Week 4: In the Weeds….

I have been trying to define the physical sensation I have every time I sit down to work on this material. My heart races, my mind flits all about, and the anxiety becomes stifling. It is reminiscent of my days working in the restaurant business. When you had ten tables and more were coming in and the kitchen was behind and people wanted water and the bartender took a smoke break and you couldn't remember the specials and the chef was yelling and.......we called that being "in the weeds." I don't know why. It is part of the world of restaurant lore. I find it a fitting phrase for my thesis work.

I keep trying to remind myself I only have to have a rough draft. It helps for a second. However, I now understand that it is more about pulling on so many sources from so many directions to create a simple timeline. There is so much information coming from so many directions. I think this is just a necessary part of the process.

I worked on two articles for Dr. Nelson this week that helped me see some clarity. Both articles set down parts of the Simonson timeline. There were many generalizations and complete inaccuracies. It helped me see how much I do know and see a pathway to putting it down. I will forge onward and try to get to all of my tables.....

Hello, what’s your emergency?

Sorry, it’s the wrong number.

Here we are, with another blog post. Not a lot has changed since the last one, so this might also be a another brief one. Most of my time simply spent on looking up articles that I could use for the project, and of course writing the story. I do have a little worry, but I’ll get back to it later. Firstly, let me quickly touch on the research aspect.

During my quest of article hunting, I have found an interesting one about medical advancement —well, the ‘advancement’ part would probably be up for debate. It may not necessarily be what I needed for a literature review, but it is quite intriguing nonetheless. Apparently, a group of researchers in Japan were able to create a computer system that utilized algorithm to determine the risk of death that an emergency caller had. The first thing that probably comes to mind after reading something like that is: “Now, why heck would you develop something like that?”, and the second: “Do they utilize this thing over here as well?” I’m somewhat reluctant to do a quick research on that as I am unsure whether I need to know the answer or not. I can’t really imagine a scenario in which the person who calls in for emergency gets to be greeted by an automated message, something like: “Thank you for calling the emergency line. We hope that your emergency gets treated well. It is our duty to disclaim that this call is being recorded for research purposes. Please hold…” Thankfully, I’ve never had to make such a call to find out —and I hope I never do. The point that I should probably focus on here is the aspect of this research that shows how an outcome is determined. It’s the analysis of patterns. The mentioned algorithm apparently categorizes the callers by “the severity of their condition” and “the time of the emergency call with the actual patients’ condition upon arrival at the hospital emergency department.” They also add the arrival time of the ambulance to the scene and possible delays into the mix to determine an accurate outcome. It’s absolutely fascinating as to how a mere two or three variables are adequate to determine “the future” occurrence with apparent “over 80% sensitivity” —which is also quite scary.

This particular article made it easier for me to connect the two disciplinary points of view that I had mentioned in my previous post, which I do not believe that I was able to properly articulate. The mathematical and astrological perspectives on fate are both reliant on pattern determination. As in, they both attempt to categorize individuals and calculate their behaviors based on variables that define them. One concern that does occur to me, as I continue to do research on this topic, is the execution of this theme within my story. Perhaps not really a concern, but more of a matter of figuring out how. I am unsure as to how to make it clear to the reader that is the theme I am going with. I do not believe having characters talk about their perception of fate in middle of ongoing story would be the right idea. In fact, that would probably be considered too on the nose. Yet, if I make it too subtle, I’m afraid it would be completely fly over the head of the reader. I need time to figure out the perfect balance of implementing its presence within the story, without making it too obvious or too subtle.

Speaking of the story, and concerns, I should address that I’m beginning to get little —just a little— worried about the timetable of this project. I was sincerely confident that I could finish up Act 2 of the story by the end of this month. I guess, that was a bit premature on my part. As I transfer everything I had written down on pieces of paper to the computer, I’m beginning to realize that they are not as fleshed out as I had in my mind. I need to add more details and descriptions to make things clear, or clearer, for the reader. I might have to “sacrifice” an additional week from upcoming month for this particular section of the story. That will probably delay Act 3 “a bit” but I believe I can still manage. On the optimistic side, I’ll be having the second half of next week all to myself. If I do manage to transfer a huge chunk of the story over to the computer, with the necessary additions, during this small period, I’ll get back into my confident mood pretty quick, I’m sure. I would say “fingers-crossed” but I think I had already used that phrase in my previous two posts, so for the purpose of remaining original, I will hesitate to do so here —even though I just did.

I do not know if there is anything else to say at this point, besides mentioning that there are some other articles I have found but didn’t have time to read just yet. Such as this one: Determining One’s Fate – A Delineation of Nietzsche’s Conception of Free Will (Although I do not know if it directly relates to my theme). I keep forgetting to check to see if the books that I mentioned in previous post are available at the bookstore I’m working at. I might actually be able to order them off of Amazon but I’d prefer to use my employee discount if possible. Should I have mentioned that here? Oh, well.

Until the next blog post.

Reference:
BioMed Central. (2009). Calling It In: New Emergency Medical Service System May Predict Caller’s Fate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091020192204.htm

[three] Done is Better than Perfect

Hello. Hope you had a lovely week.

This is gonna be short. Kinda.

So I’m bad at summaries because I put everything I think is important in them… and I deem everything important. And there are so many Important Things and intertwining perspectives and story lines that it’s kind of a struggle getting the whole story down in one concise summary. But! I tried. So here we are. It looks like a mess right now but hopefully it will come together in the actual project and be… less of a mess.

(Because I’m paranoid and protective I made it so only people at KU with the link can open/comment on it.)

It’s a lot. And it’s noT EVEN DONE JKLFDS. Even when I consider it “done” I won’t have Every Single Character’s story line on there because there are … [turns the list of characters I have on google docs into a numbered list] 27 different perspectives I’m planning. I could give you 27 different story lines here (y’all know that movie 27 Dresses?), and that’s without different choices being added in. What have I gotten myself into, man…

Alright, now that that’s out of the way (mostly), after talking more about the topics for the academic portion of my thesis, I’m liking the idea of churning out the academic portion while working on the creative portion (not as much) and seeing how they affect each other. Then, after that’s done, I can work day and night on the creative part and forget what sleep is or what the sun feels like :)))))

I’m only partly joking :)))))

Anyway, the feedback on my proposed topics was also really helpful and validating. The topics that I seem to be most passionate about that would end up as the main headings for the lit review (for now, anyway) are Perspective/POV Shifts, Gender/Androgyny/Ambiguity, and Fan Fiction. A quick reflection shows me that these topics were the biggest influences on the creation of ODDN, and feel as though examining them closer, all through a digital literature lens, would make for a meaningful side-piece to the E-lit piece itself. I’ll of course have to break the topics down further and specify what about each of them is at the very least interesting in an academic sense, as well as how they tie into each other, too.

On a similar note, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to go through the articles and books I’ve found quite yet. I will make that my priority this week, now that my summary is “done” and out there.

Y’know, fun fact: an episode of the new BTS documentary series came out the other day and this clip (and many others) started circulating around Twitter. That’s a pretty rad quote. “Done is better than perfect.” As a serial procrastinating perfectionist, hearing this is kind of a relief. So this is up on a post-it in my office now, just because I like it.

Woulda been nice to have this in my head a full week ago, bUT THAT’S FINE.

Hope you enjoy my very not-perfect summary!

CM

[three] Done is Better than Perfect

Hello. Hope you had a lovely week.

This is gonna be short. Kinda.

So I’m bad at summaries because I put everything I think is important in them… and I deem everything important. And there are so many Important Things and intertwining perspectives and story lines that it’s kind of a struggle getting the whole story down in one concise summary. But! I tried. So here we are. It looks like a mess right now but hopefully it will come together in the actual project and be… less of a mess.

(Because I’m paranoid and protective I made it so only people at KU with the link can open/comment on it.)

It’s a lot. And it’s noT EVEN DONE JKLFDS. Even when I consider it “done” I won’t have Every Single Character’s story line on there because there are … [turns the list of characters I have on google docs into a numbered list] 27 different perspectives I’m planning. I could give you 27 different story lines here (y’all know that movie 27 Dresses?), and that’s without different choices being added in. What have I gotten myself into, man…

Alright, now that that’s out of the way (mostly), after talking more about the topics for the academic portion of my thesis, I’m liking the idea of churning out the academic portion while working on the creative portion (not as much) and seeing how they affect each other. Then, after that’s done, I can work day and night on the creative part and forget what sleep is or what the sun feels like :)))))

I’m only partly joking :)))))

Anyway, the feedback on my proposed topics was also really helpful and validating. The topics that I seem to be most passionate about that would end up as the main headings for the lit review (for now, anyway) are Perspective/POV Shifts, Gender/Androgyny/Ambiguity, and Fan Fiction. A quick reflection shows me that these topics were the biggest influences on the creation of ODDN, and feel as though examining them closer, all through a digital literature lens, would make for a meaningful side-piece to the E-lit piece itself. I’ll of course have to break the topics down further and specify what about each of them is at the very least interesting in an academic sense, as well as how they tie into each other, too.

On a similar note, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to go through the articles and books I’ve found quite yet. I will make that my priority this week, now that my summary is “done” and out there.

Y’know, fun fact: an episode of the new BTS documentary series came out the other day and this clip (and many others) started circulating around Twitter. That’s a pretty rad quote. “Done is better than perfect.” As a serial procrastinating perfectionist, hearing this is kind of a relief. So this is up on a post-it in my office now, just because I like it.

Woulda been nice to have this in my head a full week ago, bUT THAT’S FINE.

Hope you enjoy my very not-perfect summary!

CM

Week 2: Aaaaahhhhh!!

Ok, this week has been a crazy whirlwind as I have shifted from having a full year to complete my thesis to instead having a couple of months. Although overwhelming, I have been at this research for a while. I have spent months meandering through literature and interviews. I have spent hours in conversation with my subject and now is the time to start bringing it all together.

I love the challenge of research and the task of synthesizing the literature. I understand that work and have no trouble getting myself to do that part. I did do a tremendous amount of work this week. I did a rough annotated bibliography. I completed a chapter outline and schedule. I also modified my proposal draft.

I struggle with the free writing component and this week was no different. My head is exploding with material, ideas, and themes. I continue to avoid writing from my own ideas. I realized this week I have to make a practice of it and not just expect myself to sit down and write the perfect chapter. I understand this intellectually. I must leave more time simply to write. Uuuugh.

Chapter 1 The Legacy of Yes Begins.
For some NYC is a destination, for others it is a fate.

Sadly, that is how far I got. To be continued.

Rushing in a Blog Post

I am fully aware that I promised to write a more in-depth blog post last week, but it turns out that unexpected time limitations possess the power to ruin your plans. Go figure. Therefore, this is going to be less in-depth than anticipated —I wonder, is there an acronym for ‘in-depth’? Is ‘out-depth’ a thing? If not, I’m coining the term right here. This is going to be an out-depth blog post. Talk about a “professional” start.

Anyways, there are two particular things that I’d definitely would like to touch on. The first thing is about the amount of readings that I need to be doing for my thesis. I had expected that there would be required readings in order to conduct a proper research, but it’s beginning to appear as if I need to do more readings than I had imagined. I might have to resort to reading specific articles that are directly related to my topic(s) of interest in order to save myself some time moving forward. As I need to have my thesis completed by the end of this class, I’d like to dedicate however much time I get to save for my writings. I also need to rely on searching and finding PDF format of these articles in question because I cannot be certain that I can get my hands on their physical prints, maybe one or two of them for sure but I do not believe that would be enough. I’m confident though that I can find these digital files as I managed to find one right after last class conference. Hearing Dr. Zamora talk about the infamous writer Franz Kafka took me back to my high school years. My English instructor at the time was obsessed with him. Though, somehow, I managed to forget that Kafka was the one who wrote The Metamorphosis, the story that I was vaguely familiar with and never really had the chance to read it fully. The small segments of the story that I remembered as Dr. Zamora talked about it in class probably came from my memory of my high school years, listening to that English instructor in class. And, that is the story that I managed to find online, in PDF format. I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible because it sounded more fascinating than I actually remembered. Being a public domain story, there are various translated versions available and I had to sort through them in order to find a copy that was proper and readable. But, I digress.

The other thing that I wished to touch on is my future plans, particularly after graduation. This is something that I guess I need to be actively aware of as I need to move forward in terms of career path at this point. I guess it really helps being a planner ahead of time because I have already mapped out what I’m going to be doing after graduation… Well. sort of. For the moment, my idea is taking small steps in the field of editorial and publishing, and get to know how the process of getting books published from “the inside”. I had an interest of doing a summer internship but sadly that plan failed as I was pretty late to the application period. As for a Fall season internship opportunity, I was somewhat reluctant to take up another responsibility on top of my school and retail job obligations, especially considering that I need to work on a thesis that is due by the end of the semester. Plus, I’m quite certain that it is way too late to get accepted into one at this point as well. One particular thing that I’ve learned, however —and this may be of great interest to a lot of people, is that most internship positions, if not all, expect the applicant to be a local. As in, you need to be residing within the state that you’re applying for an internship for. That was another major reasoning as to why I was reluctant to submit applications for this season; I do not wish to move at the moment. After graduation though? I guess, it’s more likely. Only time will tell.

I guess that is it for now. This did not end up being as out-depth as I’ve thought. It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind last week, but it’s better than what I had feared. I must learn from my “mistakes”, so I make no promises for next week’s blog post. Let it be a complete surprise.

[two] Gettin’ in that research groove

So my task this week was basically to play around, sift through information, see what sticks, solidify some topics.

In a word: research.

Joyous day.

Which!!! I’m not complaining about!!! I’m not. Really.

… really.

For the record, I have 21 tabs open right now. And that’s just one pf my Google Chrome windows.

I also just came back from the library with 3 books when I went in for 1. Rad. Two on hypertext and one on androgyny in literature. (I’ll get to that last one a bit later.)

I’m a little intimidated by all the information on hypertext out there. I mean, we discussed it in E-Lit, so I’m not surprised, necessarily. It’s kinda like I don’t know where to start, particularly with all those aforementioned tabs (most of which are links courtesy of ELMCIP) just kinda staring me in the face.

So I think this week culminated in me figuring out how to go about researching this stuff. And it turns out that there’s a lot of stuff that I wanna research. Which is cool, but also kinda sucks because, again, where do I start?

(Oof. Rough. I’m looking at some of the articles/books/conference panel discussions in my tabs and some are from the 80s and 90s. Hmm.)

Topics

Alright. So after some semi-thorough reflections and a whole lot of skimming, I think I have a general starting list of some of the topics I’d like to look at.

  • Digital Literature formats, particularly Twine (at first, at least, if and until I find a different one I like) – this one’s kind of a big duh but that’s just like the broad idea, whereas it’ll probs be narrowed down to “how does this particular mode of digital storytelling allow for such and such theme or coding element in the story that I want to tell”
  • Perspective/POV Shifts – kind of under digital lit in that I’d be looking at how the format allows for different perspectives of the same exact scene, and how the reader views it is based on who they are in the scene… I guess. But also the POV will always be second person, aka “you” as the main character, so I’d like to look at that… somehow…? Unless I’ll just be doing it and there’s not that much to examine? Hm.
    • On the topic of different perspectives, I do have representation concerns: i.e., how can a white cis female portray characters of other ethnicities, genders, and sexualities? I am currently taking a Race & Ethnic Identity in Writing class, but in the end there will always be that fear of “am I ‘qualified’ to tell this character’s story if I haven’t experienced the same life as they have?”
  • Gender/Ambiguity – last semester, for my research class, my final proposal was on “Reader Response to Gender Ambiguity in Fiction.” I have a habit of writing ambiguously gendered narrators and I explored how readers would relate to those narrators in my proposal. I suppose here, in Thesis, would be where it gets put into practice. I don’t want to do a survey like I crafted for that class, but I am debating between wanting to maintain some form of ambiguity for readers to be able to ‘see themselves’ in all characters on the one hand, while also wanting to showcase a diverse cast in my piece on the other. A look through Tracy Hargreaves’ Androgyny in Modern Literature might help me decide one way or the other, or find a blend between them.
  • Fanfiction – just for my own sake, I feel like I’d like to keep the exact fanfic influences of mine somewhat vague, but I would be more than happy to talk about the topics some fics cover in depth (character studies, AUs like foster parent, urban fantasy, pirates, vampires (lots of vampires), explorations in sexuality and mental health, self discovery, etc.) as well as fanfiction itself as a tool for writers (using characters as templates, easier to start with templates and focus on the story rather than creating 100% from the ground up (depends, of course), easier to gain a readership when there are familiar characters that readership knows and loves). Then there’s the whole community aspect of it that I’ve talked about in previous classes… This is almost a whole project in and of itself.
  • Story of the Self – from my starting look at some of the articles off ELMCIP, I delightfully rediscovered that self representation is a big theme. While some pieces are very direct (blogs, direct depictions in E-Lit, etc.), others were more vague, and I feel like mine, though it is a story of many characters that are not me, will follow the latter. Each character has elements of myself in them, their likes and dislikes or anxieties and fears or jobs and majors and passions and hobbies, etc. etc. etc. So looking at ‘self’ digital narratives would also be a topic to think about.
  • Influence of Music – now this one I probably won’t even really talk about much. Maybe it’ll just be an aside or something, as I’ve started up that ODDNights Radio on this blog and I keep adding songs that remind me of a character or a scene in the story. Big shrug. Who knows?

Aaaand that’s a lot. Maybe after talking through this stuff and going through all the sources I’ve found will help with really solidifying what it is I want to talk about.

It’s weird that I feel like I have all these topics that relate to ODDN or that influenced ODDN and like… that the piece itself is at the epicenter and I’m trying to formulate some kind of academic something to be alongside it and… It feels like it’s hard to come up with an academic reason for wanting to make a creative piece. Specifically, an academic reason that others will care about. I’m not the first to do anything in regards to making connections between these topics (digital lit, gender studies, LGBT+ lit, urban fantasy, self narratives, etc.), so I’m afraid to have someone look at all this and say “what’s the point?” and I’ll look at it too and say that I don’t know or that it doesn’t have one. In the end, I’m in grad school and I suppose there really should be a point for my thesis, y’know?

</self-deprecative ramble>

Whew. Okay. That was a lot. I’m glad I got it out, though? I feel better having all these topics down and in front of me to pick apart or throw away.

Maybe I’ll do that big whiteboard thing at some point… I mean… there are hooks in my office…

I think that’s about enough for today. See y’all later.

CM

Shaping an early sense of the MA Thesis project

Shaping a sense of the project….

Some of you are just starting the process of discovery and invention for this thesis project. And some of you are well on your way, and have various elements “in the can.” At this stage, we have taken a look at the “Early MA Proposal” document shared on this site.  I will continue to speak with each of you this week about your project ideas, and that should serve as the basis for the formal articulation of your project in proposal form.  At this stage, you should be in the process of capturing some of your “project vision”. Please follow the guidelines posted in the Early MA Thesis Proposal Document in order to get the most out of this exercise.

Since you are each at various stages in the overall process, this week during class time we will touch base with all three projects and learn from each other as each project takes shape or (shapes up with more nuance and specificity) in a unique way. Each of you can learn something from considering each other’s proposal approach, no matter how nascent or evolved your proposal iteration might be.

Sincerely,

Dr. Zamora

Getting Rid of the Rust

Testing, 1… 2… Testing… Is this working?

This is my first blog post of the semester. It feels good to be writing a new entry after three months of “solitude”. Although summer vacations are generally hailed as the time of rest and peace, I tend to find them overindulgent. Unless I have something productive to work on, it usually feels as if I wasted my time. Perhaps, it’s just a feeling that comes with age. I’m having difficulty imagining a kid complaining about the summer vacation, or merely seeing it as a waste. Man, I’m getting old.

The main objective of this post is reflecting on my thesis project as a whole, and taking “a first step” so to speak —even though I had already started working on it before the summer. I guess, it would be a nice throwback to the Writer’s Retreat class to give a quick summary of what I had done and what I had planned (and somewhat failed to do) right here. Since this blog is synchronized with the home page of that class, perhaps my old classmates can see this and reminisce with me. Talk about overindulgent. Anyways, I had managed to complete a “first” draft of the opening act, which consisted of 10 individual chapters, of the story before the class ended. It was meant to introduce the fictional setting, the characters, and introduce an overall idea of what sort of story it was going to be to the audience. I believe I managed to do a decent job on it. Since then, I have been trying to write pieces of the next act, at random order, on tiny sheets of paper that I carried around as I dined or sit in a cafeteria. When it occurred to me that all of that work eventually needed to be transfered over to the computer (by typing obviously), I intentionally stopped working on it. I’m currently somewhere at the middle point but I really wish that I had done more. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to complete that act, or at least come close to completing it, by the end of this month. Is that too unrealistic? The time will tell, for sure.

That brings me up to this class, the Thesis —or, if we need to get technical, the Advance Seminar 1 (1 and 2, in my particular case). Only two sessions in but this class already feels like a proper follow-up to Writer’s Retreat; same method of conducting lessons and simply working on the project. The major thing that I need to be able to put in words right now is the reasoning behind my decision to create this certain project, as in why I chose to do a fictional novel with its specific themes. The easy answer: I had already established its foundation in an earlier class (Writing Literature for Children) and it was pretty convenient to simply go back to it. The harder, somewhat longer answer: I desired to create a story in which I could explore certain aspects and struggles of my own life, my own experience, and how it might have influenced me to become the person I am today. Does that sound pretentious? Maybe it does but I don’t care. As I attempted to make a list of themes to explore for the project, such as the concept of fate or being part of a society, I begin to realize that I myself personally struggle at times with defining what they are, and how to “deal with” them, so to speak. I am quite certain that I am not the only person that has these issues, and I figured that it might be interesting to explore them in a fictional, fun environment, not only for myself but also for anyone who would be willing to read it.

Another theme that I decided to explore within this story is the concept of derealization (the dissociative mind). It is something that interested me ever since I’ve discovered it. And by discovering, I mean reading the particular word and its definition for the first time. As I learn more and more about what it really is, I’m beginning to question myself if I suffer with it as well. It’s often described as “sickness”, but is it really? Perhaps, it’s merely an alternative way of perceiving the reality. Now, that certainly sounds pretentious. I still don’t care. People could use a little bit of pretentiousness in their lives —live a little, you know? I’m hoping that exploration of the theme, or rather the concept, within this thesis project, will allow me to come to a solid conclusion whether I need to take certain precautions to prevent this “problem” continue to grow on me or not. Who knows? It might even help the reader.

I think I’m going to end this early, and very brief, reflection right here and post it as this week’s blog post. Since the class technically supposed to start at 4:30 —regardless of when we might’ve actually conducted it— I’m hoping this will count as the due post today (fingers-crossed). I will continue to reflect on my project in next week’s blog post. I should have a much better understanding of it overall, especially after writing up the proposal for it.

For the time being, I need to go back to typing those “professionally organized” manuscripts.