Last Night

OK, I think I need to get this off my chest. As my classmates know I’ve been in kind of a funk lately when it comes to all of this. Which, if there was a time to be in a funk, I guess this isn’t the absolute worst time. Then again, it’s not the best time either. The due date is just lingering above my head.

So aside from the fact that I’ve been down and stressed, it seems like whenever I take one step forward I’m taking five backwards. It’s almost annoying. Like, I’ll give myself time to relax and/or vent if need be. Then when I feel I can be good on my feet again, I get knocked right off. But, I mean, that’s life, eh?

Aside from life punching me in the face, I had an argument last night. One that will resonate with me. I watched the Oscars last night with my mom. Although I enjoyed the show for the most part (Leo, man I can’t believe you beat out Eddie), my mom and I had what started out as a conversation. It turned into a mild screaming match. I don’t want to get into specifics on via this platform.I’ve always valued mom mom’s opinions ever since I was a little girl. However, the statements she made l.ast night really threw me through a loop of confusion frustration and anger

I literally went to bed thinking what the hell am I doing? and why the hell am I doing this? 

Today, I thought about it a little more, and I’m caught somewhere in the middle: part of me is still angered by it, while the other part of me wants to use it as fuel to the fire for writing. I obviously know what side I want to be on, and I’m working on getting there. I just feel like this whole thing came out of left field. I went to bed so aggravated. Maybe I just need some time to cool off and figure it out. Time is not on my side…


“This Hardly An Indictment” (pt 1)

While it might very well be that most if not all of today’s outspoken black sophists – all of whom I gots the utmost deference for – speak and write in almost borderline perfect English (with they prim and proper selves, soundin all dignified), and no doubt being subsumed under a classification of “respectable black people” to which me and mines and you and yours should ogle in awe-inspiration at, for they are the paragons worth our genuflection. It just be that it’s confusing, and here’s what I mean.

What I mean is that almost simultaneously they borderline belying they rhetoric through the use of a standard variant of English that speaks to a linguistic political system positing the Queen English as superior to/better than they “Mother Tongues”. Which, to be fair, not to be taken as wholesale criticism of deemed respectable parlances; being black dont necessarily make one conversant in the ways of black English, or African American English Vernacular, Ebonics the same way being white doesn’t automatically make one proper-English speaking. Far be it from me too to get on how folks roll, let alone how they roll their tongues: that be the jobs of prescriptivists, ideologues of standard English whose boldface proscriptions of any entholingual variant just another form of oppression against those for whom the standard (whiteness) is not the primary. And while commonalities vary, the constancy and primacy of “code switching”-infused readin and writin instruction is too blatant to ignore. It basically be how The Teach say to black students that they English “wrong” and in turn prompts rewriting into the “right” way.

In reality though, coppin you some language be sort of a la carte – that is, depending on exposure, to what extent, in what contexts, in light of what gains and losses, how often, entry points, among other things, turns language acquisition into Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you gonna get. Add to that our personal preferences and idiosyncrasies and proclivities as to what kinds of chocolates, how much we indulge, susceptibilities to harrowing consequences from consuming such foodstuffs, allergies, and just our human nature to not give a what about all that, and then some. The same be ringing true for language is what I’m trying to say. Like what my man Dr Vershawn Young (Dr Vay or just Vay hereafter) say in his “Should Writers Use They Own English?”: “The narrow, prescriptive lens be messing writers and readers all the way up, cuz we all been taught to respect the dominant way to write, even if we dont, cant, or wont ever write that one way ourselves.”

I also observe that it might very well be that they (the aforementioned black sophists, I mean) mommas and daddies made it so that they’d grow up knowing how to move through a room full of vernacular vultures via an understanding of what Randall Kennedy (Mr K hereafter) dropped in Harper’s as the politics of respectability (POR hereafter). The proponents of which Mr K writes, “advocate taking care in presenting oneself publicly and desire strongly to avoid saying and doing anything that will reflect badly on blacks, reinforce negative stereotypes, or needlessly alienate potential allies,” which to me and my black consciousness be some old doublespeak: Championship for the assimilation to the dominant persuasion through the starvation of your origination for the sake of your preservation, sans reparations. But peep, because Mr K make POR sound almost like capital-D Doctrine; he say it legit because of the considerable number of other “good” sisters and brothers, albeit not always, it work for. Like, he talk about how Thurgood Marshall “usta” (read: used to) vet his black clients for personhood in making up his mind about whether or not he gone rep them in the court of law; he say the only reason Rosa Parks even a name today be that she was a better black person than the other black folks the same mess she went through happened to; he say even MLK complicit in that; he (Mr K) even try to undercut Michael Eric Dyson (Mike Dyson hereafter)–like, “How dare this negro,” almost–for supposedly being hypocryphal for lambasting POR while a participating in it.

My first response to this, albeit well-meaning, sort of, is how’re folks not supposed to consider our so-called heroes discriminatory assholes, hearing that, for example, MLK was accessory to “refraining from rallying around [Louise Smith and Claudette Colvin] who had been arrested before Parks,” because what? Because he and his enforcing dress codes where dress codes dont apply. So one has to look good, sound good, smell good, in order to be good? “Good” as in “looked out for”. So someone can have a legitimate case and Marshall just gone bypass they case because they not squeaky clean? Of Marshall–aka “Mr Civil Rights”–Mr K writes:

 

…Marshall did not proceed like conventional defense attorneys, who are generally indifferent to the culpability of their potential clients. To the contrary, he often declined to commit his scarce resources to the defense of those he believed to be guilty. He did not want the standing of the NAACP belittled by association with criminals. He viewed the reputation of his clients, the organization, and himself as important resources in the struggle to advance the fortunes of black America.

 

But hollup. Because if the then-running criteria (according to POR) mandated “[presenting] the civil rights movement in a fashion that would generate sympathy” and was “predicated on a belief that blacks needed to elevate themselves to reach parity with the Euro-American peers,” which meant being “rightly attentive to [one’s] image,” and that one “speak well, dress suitably, and mind our manners,” then it’s likely a considerable # of blacks who sought the Black Fist were dismissed solely off characteristics that failed to emblematize a (white)man-made standard of respectability. I mean, where else so-called good blacks gettin that idea from, anyway? Also: In his “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” flavor-of-the-month Ta Nehisi Coates (who Mr K jumps on, too) illustrated how the utmost-respected MLK was pretty much a criminal in the eyes of J Edgar Hoover, “who harassed three generations of leaders,” saying “he attacked Martin Luther King Jr as ‘the most notorious liar in the country,’ and hounded him, bugging his hotel rooms, his office, his home, until his death.” Now, we can either work from the assumption that the racist climate during Hoover, et al’s time was harder to snap than now, and so Hoover’s actions and behavior while deplorable are understandable from a lopsided cultural/historical/contextual standpoint; or we can acknowledge how not even MLK was impervious to ethno-impartiality.

Question: How this not discrimination, borderline intra-racism? Intra-racism mixed with public relations. Conflating superficial features with content. Mr K also dont make it seem like he and them acknowledging what the implications would be for future generations, saying in the penultimate sentence “At no point has there been more reason for young black men and women to be hopeful that investing in themselves will pay dividends,” making it sound mad cookie cutter-like: be made in the image of Rosa Parks, as an example, and be blessed. I get it though, because white folks pull the same when unruly blacks bust up shops in the wake of some mess, saying: WWMLKD? Enough.

My second response is that if “No one with any sense claims that ‘acting better’ ensures immunity against racist violence or any other lurking catastrophe,” and “The argument is that prudent conduct and sensitivity to how we appear to others improves our chances for success in environments peppered with dangerous prejudice,” then well, has Mr K considered that maybe some folks just dont wanna roll like that? What I mean is while it might be well and good to cop you some high saddity sensibilities to put you on par with constituents within some exclusive (read: white) circles – that is, get you some cred – that’s hardly a respectable pretext for respectability, or even acceptability. What Mr K promoting, I feel like, is self hatred and a bias toward a “reality” even Mr K know funked up. Instead of de-funking it for the folks, though, Mr K feel it best we blacks and other historically marginalized folks highbeam our way through life, like that dont waste battery.

What’s more: since when being one’s self a bad thing? R E S P E C T something earned not something coaxed outta someone by acting phony. That be how some jokers get got, you understand? Think Rachel Dolazel. Think Shaun King. If anything, Mr K sound like he about that DuBoisian doubleconsciousness as if it a good thing, which contrarian to DuBois’ point in the first place.

In “Nah, We Straight’: An Argument Against Code Switching,” my man Vay talk about this exact thing. In it, he locate the POR in code switching, referring to the literal switching from one speech act to another depending on the rhetorical situation. Like Kennedy & Co’s respect politics, codeswitching just linguistic ones propagatin self-hate, or that one stave off the nutrients of they immediate culture. Like Mr Kennedy say of his orders: “The fulfillment of our racial obligations required that we speak well, dress suitably, and mind our manners” (italics mines).Vay, however, say code switching just Jim Crow all over again in that it pumping that “separate but equal” logic into folks heads, in effect bifurcating folks identities a la doubleconscious.

What Vay make salient is how not even teachers, plus those for whom fluency/mastery expected – aka middle class white folks – get it right, saying: “[dominant language ideology] persuades us to imagine they do. It demands that we participate in a fantasy that white middle class folks are entitled speakers of public English.” This presumably the fallacy from whence Mr Kennedy et al coming from, an assumption itself, the basis for his argument as to respectability politics from whence historically marginalized folks should engage “reality with clear eyes in order to fashion responses with any hope of success,” success coming from a “Know Your Role” model whereby blacks demonstrate obedience, and an obedience rooted in an inferiority complex, and an inferiority complex born out a fucked up history.

Taking note of the slippery slope, though (Moms and Pops probably readin), let me not front like I always been me, rockin this voice, because I very much so subscribed to a “politics of respectability” before seeing the light. See, here’s we me and Mr K almost kindred: “My parents inculcated in me and my two siblings a particular sense of racial kinship: in our dealings with the white world we were to be racial ambassadors. Our achievements would advance race, our failures would hinder it.” This here tell me more so how hard upbringing to break – and tradition – forefronting for yours truly the pathos of “But momma said.” Which I for one can relate to, being literally beaten – had that ass whooped – to talk “like I got some sense,” having “too been brainwashed about the ‘inherent and Absolute rightness’ of white middle-class dialect and [did] not realize that language can be/has been for Black people in America a tool of oppression” (129), to quote Geneva Smitherman one time. And even now I’m aware of the operable privilege my high school diploma, BA, and to-be-completed MA (here’s hopin) done afforded me in just being able to say I give a. Nor can I testify to the voice I henceforth choose to express myself in havin done me any favors heretofore, or even at present. It dont. Truthbetold, I’m shook it wont never. But I point to James Baldwin in my “self destruction,” in my saying no to respectability politics inasmuch as it DIY censorship, pretty much. Lo Baldwin, who asked: “If Black English (BE hereafter) Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” And to Jay-Z (Hov hereafter), who in Decoded says: “But I can’t say I’ve ever given much of a fuck about people who hear a curse word and start foaming at the mouth.”

So Kennedy’s treaty basically talkin about how the revolutionary tradition of blacks is located in decency at the cost of dignity, and what that mean fo disgruntled black folk in the 21st Century. Kennedy say the point people for blacks are “good blacks” who are and were “attentive to how [they were] perceived.” That its “association with esteemed [blacks] and episodes in African American history suggest that the politics of respectability warrants a more respectful hearing than it has recently received,” he say. So in Kennedy head, it the J O B of historically subjugated people to be bigger people in order to “counteract racist dogma…in a fashion that would generate sympathy and admiration…in the struggle to advance the fortunes of blacks in America,” even if it not gonna work? And even if it it do, said subjugated folks are just expected to uphold these virtues at the expense of who they are, want to be, should be, could be, to make Whitey feel better about their proximity?

Problematics abound, obviously, which explain why so many folks from Flavorwire to Boston Review to The Atlantic, including commenters in comments sections, got on Mr K for his on High, mountaintop-influenced chide. Mind you it’s unsurprising he and his ilk would deploy such a clarion call, “a prudential plea for reasonable action”–damage control–in light of some mess of late. And I know exactly what folks gone do wit Kennedy’s suit: the exact same thing he do in it: project onto blacks images, names, symbols, demonstrations, including Kennedy hisself, of what works, and don’t, and not never gonna; or at least not if he and his have something to say about it.

Language-wise, there enough cultural relevancy not only to substantiate why blacks among other nonnative/standard English speakers should be able to express they-selves how they wanna, but also to give a name to it. It’s code meshing: “Code meshing the new code switching,” as Vay say, observing how code switching a misnomer and actually mean “[blendin] dialects, [int’l] languages, local idioms, chatroom lingo, and the rhetorical styles of various ethnic and cultural groups in both formal and informal speech acts.” Note too how I said code switching a misnomer: in sociolinguistic terms, right, code switching actually dont mean what widely and popularly understood as code switching. On the contrary, “Code switching may be defined as the use of more than one language or language variety concurrently. Spanglish, the simultaneous linguistic production of Spanish and English in the same discourse, is an example of this kind of code switching.” But see, this what happen when the Herrenvolk start touchin stuff that aint theirs, because now code switchin about that “contrastive analysis–a method comparing black English to standard English so that [black students] can learn to switch from one to the other in different settings.”

Code meshing, on the other hand, pretty much that organic thing we all do from off the top of the dome, when we not worryin bout–or rather not performing for–whoever listening or watching. Albeit kneejerk-y, or call it “raw,” it not exempt from revision, grammaticality, nor do it inhibit communication or any of those mad skills we value in (a white patriarchal) Western society: “A whole lot of folks could be speakin and writin real, real smart if [folks] stop using one prescriptive, foot long ruler to measure the language of peeps who use a yardstick when they communicate,” writes Vay. He say “What we need to do is enlarge our perspective about what good writin is and how good writin can look at work, at home, and at school” (“Should”).

So it kind of irksome of Mr K to say otherwise, especially Mr K who say “nigger,” or “nigga,” a protean word, can make you feel (read: understand) why a nigga might use it, or uses it, and then gone try and disabuse a nigga from using it because of some longheld Stockholm Syndrome-infused politics peculiar to old skool blacks? Like, what nigga?

Here go Mr K: “Opponents of respectability politics talk as though it has never been effective,” granted, and “Well known detractors of respectability politics dress to impress–as most adults do on a regular basis.” And: “Whenever people dress to impress they are engaging in politics of respectability,” which I do see, granted. And while: “[Mike Dyson] [dont] wear casual street clothes when he [appear] on Meet the Press to do ideological battle with Rudy Giuliani. He [dress] up [cuz] he […] rightly attentive to his image. He participates in the politics of respectability [tho] he [disparage] it,” why it cant be that Dyson enjoy gettin fly? Since when clothes make the man? Can I just say now, that the believability of POR really contingent on one’s ability to detect logical fallacies, because for Mr K, or anyone, to associate character and competence with manmade rules of engagement is straight cattle-dumb and as old as igneous rock.

But before y’all get to flexing and jumping down my throat, check out this li’l ditty. In “Pitfalls In Fighting ‘Nigger’: Perils of Deception, Censoriousness, and Excessive Anger,” (2002) Mr K sing different:

 

The black comedians and rappers who use and enjoy nigger care principally, perhaps exclusively, about what they themselves think, desire, and enjoy–which is part of their allure. Many people (including me) are drawn to these performers despite their many faults because, among other things, they exhibit a bracing independence. They eschew boring conventions, including the one that maintains, despite massive evidence to the contrary, that nigger can mean only one thing. (emphasis mines)

 

Mr K look real, real suspect right now, because how Mr K’s abovementioned not flyin in the face of the very respectability politics he and his propose? One may be wondering, as I am, if Mr K’s current assertion ain rooted in some skullduggery to thwart the efforts of well-meaning brothers and sisters who don’t necessarily identify wit him and his. Encroachment on they cynosure perhaps got them tight (read: mad) – shook – or it just that Mr K think he know what’s best for millennials who take umbrage at feeling as though it’s not safe out here for them. “But momma said,” and I get it. But hold up (before I swole up) because I need to be fair to Mr K, because from Jump I said how it kinda dubious of black sophists arguin on behalf of they constituents to talk unlike they constituents – a slippery slope, hence why I couldn’t front like this always me, either. That it wasn’t, by extension, denote the political awareness in my aboutface, which not even all that political as it is existential, or commonsensical, or sentential, or sacrificial, if not nonsensical and just me trippin – no psychological.

My argument to the negative of respectability politics locates me in an argument for the use of code meshing readin and writing instruction as it, as Vay say, “allow black people to play both the black and white keys on the piano at the very same time, creating beautiful linguistic performances that will hopefully help relieve double conscious and facilitate the merging DuBois hoped for” (“Nah”). Which hardly me sayin do as I say, though; or say how I do. Recognizing how doubleminded people be, this hardly an indictment, too. Rather it’s a shoefitting. So if the shoe fit, then yo, that’s all you.

As a coda I wanna accentuate my mikedrop with a sort of verso-recto look at Obama and Jay-Z (Hov hereafter)–Obama and Hov being the kind of culturally relevant loci wherein the politics of language and respectability get all kind of jacked up.

Check it: A YouTube video titled “Obama’s Ghettoest Moments” classifies as “ghetto” for Obama as the time he danced on Ellen to Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love,” the time he swatted a fly midinterview wit sum white man, and the time, in a doctored up (and very funny) video, he frontkicked open a door, exiting stage left; “Obama’s My Nigga Handshake,” shows him shakin hands with a white man to soft music and immediately thereafter givin dap to Kevin Durant to rapper YG’s “My Nigga”; 2010, the press all agog at Obama’s black English: “Nah, we straight,” he said in response to a cashier offering him change up in Ben’s Chili Bowl.

That any of these could be, or are, considered “ghetto” for POTUS is proof positive of how some folks can identify “ghetto,” still respect one’s “gangster,” and accept such identifiably “ghetto” and “gangster” markers in someone like POTUS. It also highlight how the whole argument just plain dumb. It’s like my man Vay say of Obama’s changing of the game towards the end of his eponymous nod:

 

As we think about Obama’s language practice during his campaign and accept for the sake of argument that he played the code switching game (I say for sake of argument, because some folks believe that he is heard differently by whites and blacks) then what if, just what if, he played the game to end the game? Not so only he could have the luxury to use AAE (African American English) more freely after the election, both in informal settings like Ben’s Chili Bowl…and in formal settings, as he did in one interview with Diane Saywer where he says he “hipped” his personal aide Reggie Love to Aretha Franklin and John Coltrane, but so nobody else, no other AAE speakers would have to put on a show to prove their worth. What if he played the game not to endorse the game but to show that the stigma against AAE in formal settings and academic writing is stupid?

 

A section of Hov’s Decoded titled “Negative Space,” underscore Vay’s point, actually. Same way Obama paying the game to end the game, Hov, understanding the game and how being a rapper/black/insert your ethnic, gender, sexual minority automatically puts one at odds with the dominant consensus, says “brush your shoulders off”:

Growing up as a black kid from the projects, you can spend your whole life being misunderstood, followed around department stores, looked at funny, accused of crimes you didn’t commit, accused of motivation you don’t have, dehumanized–until you realize, one day, it’s not about you. It’s about perceptions people had long before you even walked onto the scene. The joke’s on them because they’re really just fighting phantoms of their own creation. Once you realize that, things get interesting. It’s like when we were kids. You’d start bopping hard and throw on the ice grill when you step into Macy’s and laugh to yourself when the security guards got nervous and started shadowing you. You might have a knot of cash in your pocket, but you boost something anyway, just for the sport of it. Fuck ‘em. Sometimes the mask is to hide and sometimes it’s to play at being something you’re not so you can watch the reactions of people who believe the mask is real. Because that’s when they reveal themselves. (55, italics mines)

 

Now see Obama brushin off his shoulders. Gettin that dirt of his shoulders. The haters gone hate, anyway, so: let them. As Hov said, “Pardon my back.”


Feb 24

With Chapters 5 and 6, I feel like I finally got vindication for all my yelling about this book, as well as a glimpse into why it might actually be worthwhile after all. Below, a quote from Chapter 5.

None of the is rocket science. Indeed, Wales told me that most people learned on the playground most of what they need to know to be good Wikipedians.

This is what I’ve been frustratedly growling into the pages of this book for weeks, that I believe that so much of what we’ve been reading about should have been skills learned through life experience, and being a person and interacting with other people both for fun and profit. I also think that something crystalized for me while I was reading these chapters that has been bothering me this whole time. This book, and especially chapter five, is full of tips for how to use the internet, how to game twitter, how to develop your brand and expand your network- presumably for personal benefit but conceivably for profit- but it never suggests why. Why is the author advocating for people to learn these skills? To what end? The obvious answer is that it’s 2016 (it wasn’t when the book was written, mind) and that everything is online so it is to everyone’s individual good that they be competent and literate in using the internet. But that isn’t necessarily a good reason for everyone to learn about the politics of forums, the etiquette of sharing research on twitter, and the value of linking different groups of people together. Yes, it’s a benefit to everyone to be aware of what Facebook does with our information, and to be able to vet a website, but what about the other stuff? It looks like learning to network for networking’s sake. Why are we telling people to do this stuff? I’m not talking about practically, or what good it will do them. It might well help almost anyone in some way. But ethically, what is the point of this? What philosophy is backing up this enterprise? I think that’s why I’ve felt like a lot of what we’ve been talking about has been so empty. Because I haven’t detected anything behind it, underneath it, that makes it worthwhile. I’ve read a lot of this stuff as a pretty straight correlation to “how to be popular,” “how to get people to like you,” “how to ingratiate yourself to people in advance of the zombie apocalypse.”

It was only in Chapter 6 that I felt like the author came through with what I thought was a much-needed dose of humanity. The need for people to mind their Facebook privacy settings. The acknowledgment that his positions are (apparently widely) viewed as rosy and optimistic, that paywalls are dividing the free and open web, and the nefarious forces at work on the internet- from trolls to corporate entities to shady government initiatives- are formidable and many. These are things I needed to hear, because these are things I believe are integral to the fabric of the kind of digital networked life that Rheingold is advocating for. I do feel that the book stopped short of really digging into the issues of the internet’s corporate gatekeepers, like the the cable companies that have been working for a while to privilege internet access by speeding up or slowing down various connections. But I did see the author take a stand, and let the reader know that although all of these negatives are realities, that doesn’t seal our fate. That to keep a thing free people have to organize, to cooperate, to believe that it can stay free, and then we have a chance, and with that we have a point, a reason why anything in this books matters- because the internet is kind of a goddamn miracle, and if any of us have the slightest hope of preserving what’s good about it, we have to know how to use it. It’s a good message. I wish he’d lead with it.

Matt


Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-02-21 19:02:00

Trying to Narrow Down
#1
I spent about an hour exploring Rainbow School's website Friday. I figured it was a good place to start as I wanted to see if this "ignore the Core" curriculum that I have looming in my head already exists. If it does then, the idea is moot. I watched videos from their winter concert, saw clips of the kids gardening, got excited when the director talked about the fifteen minutes of centering they do in the morning through yoga or meditation to settle everyone in for the day of learning, and watched parents discuss the connection they felt they and their children had with the the teachers. Then, I clicked on the curriculum link, and further clicked on the writing link!!! And all my thoughts about this wonderfully hippie crunchy school became an"Oh no!" They teach isolated grammar instruction, the parts of speech, there is no evidence that their lessons tie into any out of the classroom experiences, in 6th grade  language arts instruction was 45 mins long while recess was 50 mins, October was designated to the paragraph, and they still taught book reports, the curriculum mapping from year to year was inconsistent at best. There was no real continuum. I was, let down. There was no pot of gold at the end of my rainbow :( 

The curriculum at my school is really good. I actually enjoy most of it. It is just that I do feel strangled by CC.  I wish there was more freedom. That is why when I see a school like Rainbow that has the freedom to do anything, and see that they revert back to old school methods, it drives me crazy. 

I envision multimedia usage and field trips that inspire the creation happening in my "Ignore the Core" curriculum. For example a poetry unit might include not only immersing the students through reading a variety of poems, but hearing poems being read( as I feel they are meant to be) through audio sites and videos, as well as a trip to a poetry slam, maybe in Harlem so they can see Langston Hughes' stomping grounds. We could also visit Rutger's Botanical Gardens in the springtime to appreciate nature as the English Romantics might have. They would bring their journals everywhere and write ideas, poems, free write.  The students' experiences and their ideas would come back to the classroom for formal poetry lessons and creation. To end the unit, we would hold a poetry slam or a night of readings for our community. 

It sounds great right?  

#2

I love NPR's StoryCorps. It's been a long time since I listened. The first two I selected had me in tears. I like how simple, yet not so simple the stories are. Weighing in around three minutes, one must figure, "How much can I learn about a person in three minutes?" Well, the answer is A Lot! Subjects are interviewed by someone in their life. This allows for a personal and emotional feel. There is unabashed honesty that takes place. These podcasts are uplifting and addictive. With over 60,000 archived since 2003, a person could chose to sit and listen to the fascinating stories of average people all day long.

On their website there was a list of purposes to Story Corps. To paraphrase:

  • To show that everyone's story matters
  • Build connections between people and build a more just and compassionate world
  • Preserve and share humanity's stories
  • Teach the value of listening
  • Showcase the diversity of the participants
Do these podcast fall into the genre of memoir? 

The definition of memoir is: a collection of memories that an individual writes about both public or private that took place in the subject's life

A memoir must be told in the first person point of view

It is a subclass of autobiography, but where a memoir is an autobiographical writing an autobiography can never be a memoir

An autobiography captures a person's full life, a memoir captures a phase/ period/moment of a person's life



There seems to be many ways authors are creating memoir these days. Rosalie Lightning by Tom Hart is about the loss of his young daughter. Hart creates his memoir in graphic form.  Michael Ian Black creates his memoir Navel Gazing through the use of vignettes. An example of another memoir with a twist in structure is David Seders' Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is filled with hilarious stories that don't necessarily "go together" to create a book of one long cohesive story. It is refreshing to see so many new takes on how author's are telling their stories. The lines of structure are open. However, there are still very strict rules in that the story must be the storyteller's own voice.

**Sidenote-I was thinking back to my creative non fiction class and dug up the names of those we studied during that class and are in the field. These individuals would probably be a guide towards the start of lit review work: Phillip Lopate, Lee Gutkind, and Brett Lott. 

The genre of memoir, has been one of my favorites to read for a very long time.  My bookcases are filled with them. Knowing that a story is true always makes it better for me. It's like when a movie starts and I see the words, Based on True Events, I'm pulled instantly in. 

I feel so excited to think about working with my dad and telling his stories. I love the idea of using podcasts to capture his voice. I have so many ideas/questions that are spinning around this type of project. Which stories do I pull from him? How will it be organized? How can I bring in not only voice but possibly visual? What will my writing look like/feel like? What will my interpretation of his stories look like through my own writing? What is my creative take on his stories? What is my creative voice going to sound like through my dad's? Am I capturing his stories through my writing or something else? Our relationship? My own memories of growing up with him?

How do he and I come together to create a new type of memoir?

Is it still memoir if an outside voice is being woven into the first person narration?

There is a lot to think about. Plus, I still haven't asked him if he is willing to do it. Lol! Although, I'm quite sure he will.










Writing a Sex Scene

First off I don’t want my book to be like fifty shades of grey in any way possible. Second i didn’t plan on my book having this type of scene. But in every book I have ever read where there is a romance narrative there has been a sex scene. I guess this follows the saying that “sex sells” because women seem to read harlequin novels faster than any other genre. I am not one of those women but as I am writing a scene which highlights Amanda and Nate’s relationship I realize that I do enjoy the sex scenes. Only in the sense this it is an easy way to show a couple’s bond and the strength of their relationship. Hence how I started to write a sex scene.

Right away I realized how under qualified I am to write a good sex scene. As I read it over I realized that it felt weird and staged. Then I started to think about movies I’ve seen and yes, I even dabbled in some memories I have from my own romantic life. Soon I was able to come up with a believable scenario. Once I was done rewriting it I reread it and realized how awkward it was. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I had incorporated everything I figured would make it feel realistic but it didn’t work. I wasn’t sure how to make it more believable and still appeal to women readers. I considered scrapping the whole page but then I thought that it had became an important part to the chapter. I didn’t want it to be cheesy or childish but I also didn’t want it to boarder on porn.

So I emailed the scene to my boyfriend. He might have to get an editorial note in my book for the amount of help he has given me. He read the scene and right away said it was sappy and boring. He also said he felt very awkward reading it. That I knew would happen, considering that it is a normal reaction. He wanted to help so he sent me some feedback on how I can jazz up the scene to seem more appealing. I took his pointers in to account and changed the scene so it made more sense. It now flows and doesn’t feel as awkward.

I wouldn’t say I am an expert writer. I also wouldn’t say I am extremely qualified to write a novel but I wanted this project to be a learning process. I realize now that it is. I am constantly learning during this process. Taking creative non fiction was like running a 5K. Writing a novel is like running a marathon. I now have to get used to pacing myself and pushing my writing to make it last for 200+ pages. But writing this sex scene taught me that I am always going to run in to obstacles during my writing journey. It is how I handle these obstacles that matters most.


Not Enough Hours in the Day

This is what my day consists of when I have class.

I wake up and feed myself and my dog. I get dressed for the gym. I spend about an hour at the gym and then I go back home. I shower and get dressed. I eat lunch. I drink a cup of coffee and I’m out the door. My goal is to get to Kean between 1 and 2. I reach the KUWP office and I sit down and open my laptop. I begin by answering emails and finishing up any tasks I may have for my GA position. Then I finally open up the document that is my working novel. If the office is empty I write like a mad woman. If there is someone here it is almost guaranteed that I will not get any writing done.

It is a vicious cycle. At home I am most relaxed. I don’t have a desk so I usually sit in bed with my laptop on my desk and my dog lying beside me. I get most of my work done in this spot. The problem is I only have a small window of opportunity. My dad leaves for work at 7 and my brother leaves for work at 9. Once I have the house to myself I can concentrate. Lately I have been finding too many tasks around the house to deal with that I haven’t had a long writing session since Valentines Day. As a Valentines present my boyfriend gave me 3 hours in the morning of total silence at his house. He went out to run errands and I wrote about 10 pages. It was great. But it is hard for me to get quiet time like that at home. When I am in the KUWP office a switch turns on and I am in writing mode. I feel creative and motivated because I am sitting at a desk, but if I am not alone I can’t focus. The office is a shared space and I have problems with it not being completely quiet.

For the first time since starting my thesis I feel motivated to write. I am at a part in my story where I feel like I am gaining momentum and I really want to get Amanda’s story moving. But I just haven’t had the time to get in to it. It takes me a while to start writing. I usually reread the last few paragraphs I wrote to get a sense of where I want to go and by the time I’m swiftly typing I look at the clock and it is time for class. I think I need to start going to starbucks or my town library on my days off from work so I can only focus on this.

I don’t want it to sound like I am complaining but I have just been finding it hard to manage my time. Writing isn’t easy when I need to have a job and finish assignments for classes. I have been getting about 8 hours of sleep each night but I’m starting to think that I need to stay up later to write. Its not my best idea but I am running out of options. We all have a life and things happen or get in the way of our productivity but I really need to work on how I am going to complete my tasks. I have 30 pages written and my goal is 100. I have to write 70 pages in 2 months. Right now I see this as possible. But we will see what life throws at me in the upcoming weeks.


9. Wherein the writer’s world is rent in two

I recently played through a game called Far Cry 4 on the PS3 with my brother. He and I would take turns completing missions and generally visiting carnage on the fictional kind of India-like nation of Kyrat. From early on, we’d run through enemy camps firing exploding arrows from the back of an elephant, lobbing grenades at armed convoys, and releasing caged tigers to exact vengeance on their captors. Our avatar became synonymous with Old Testament-style destruction. Flames and chaos followed his every mountain climb, ATV ride, and wing suit glide. He instantaneously learned how to operate a flame thrower, aim a throwing knife, and fly a hang glider. We would add our own elements of challenge to the game (which would we worried was becoming too easy) by eliminating conventional machine guns and shotguns from our inventory and instead relying on a simple bow, a cowboy six shooter, a sniper rifle and explosives.  Our reign of terror was largely unmitigated. It was a lot of fun. At a few points our rampage would overlap with the game’s scripted story, and we would experience these cut scenes in which one of the other characters (two leaders of a violent revolution to free their homeland from an insane despot) would tell us about the cause, and send us out to accomplish something.Their army was usually standing around, or getting into skirmishes in the woods. When something important was happening, they called us up and said we needed to do it. Our avatar, who until the game’s first scene was an unassuming civilian, had become the blunt instrument of the revolution. As there was no other option, and because fighting bad guys for the cause was just as good as fighting bad guys for the hell of it, we went along and completed the missions, saving the day for the rebels or striking down some dangerous enemy or taking a vital strategic point. As the game went on, our interactions with our comrades became more divisive, and soon each of the two characters were advocating against the agenda of the other. They told us we must choose between them. We didn’t always love the choices, but to go with the flow we decided to select the course of action we felt was closest to what we thought we would do. Then they told us we had to choose between blowing up an ancient temple and destroying a culture, or defending the temple and giving a teenage girl over to a life of forced religious service as the symbol of a goddess (whatever that means, and it sounds kind of sexual and creepy). We looked at each other and said, “Excuse me, rebels, but fuck you. I am become death, the destroyer of worlds. I’ve just blown up half this country. What if I don’t like either of those options? Why would I ever take orders from the likes of you, a bossy peasant?” I paraphrased a bit, but the point remains. These narrative directions beg the question- why would anyone with this talent for sheer destruction, who is so nigh-unkillable, ever go along with some half baked plan if he doesn’t want to? Why doesn’t the unhinged killing machine that is my avatar EVER seem to be calling the shots? This doesn’t make sense, especially in the context of how I’ve been playing this game. It’s disorienting, and it pushes against the player’s immersion in the otherwise beautiful and arresting reality of the game world. It wrecks the illusion, and calls the validity of the whole experience into question. It make you feel like, maybe this game is junk, because it hasn’t accounted for this vast chasm of what it’s asking me to do and what seems reasonable for me to expect in this moment.

Far Cry 4 is by no stretch of the imagination the first and only game to suffer from this misalignment. When we were younger, we didn’t notice it. There are some things we can do, and some things we can’t. Mario gets shorter when he gets hurt. OK. Samus can turn into a tiny ball and fit into unnaturally small places. Sure. But as we grew up, and the more we learned both from games and real life how to think critically, the more certain things started to stand out. In every iteration of the Legend of Zelda series that I’m familiar with, Link (the franchise’s hero) collects a menagerie of weapons and tools to help him through the menacing landscape and rescue the titular princess. Way back in the late 80’s, if you found the right bush, you could torch it to reveal a secret. Or if you bombed the right section of wall, or pushed the right boulder, the same. It was so exciting when I was a tiny child to find these secrets and explore them that I never thought twice about it, and if anybody else did they weren’t saying anything. By the third or so game though, with my age now in double digits, some things seemed a little… wrong. Why can I explode this section of wall but not the one right next to it? Could it be made of something different? Why would that happen? I’m not saying there has to be a secret passage behind every section of wall, but if I can blow up one part I should be able to blow up the rest, even if it’s just destruction that I’m causing. I would be lying if I truly attributed this stream of conscious to myself as a child. I still really didn’t question why one thing happened or didn’t, but there was a sense that something was just, off somehow. The pattern continued as video games and I aged alongside one another. Games got more complex, and more focused on delivering Hollywood-style narrative. In fact, since at least the advent of the Nintendo Entertainment System many games have done their best to faithfully reproduce actual Hollywood narratives reimagined as games. A great example of this type of game, in that it was an amazing game, is the N64 title Goldeneye, which always finds a place on everybody’s all-time favorites list. A terrible example is, as far as I know, any and every Harry Potter and the Fill-in-the-Magic-Blank game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a ravenous Harry Potter fan. In fact that’s probably why I hate the games so much- in addition to objectively being garbage, they also violently misuse a property and a world that has so much to offer.

Actually, while the HP games are awful games, they make a really great example of what I’m trying to talk about here, which is the attempt and failure by developers to marry narrative with gameplay. The term I’v recently seen coined for this phenomenon is ludonarrative dissonance. Somebody cooked up the name to signify the discord between the experience of playing and the story being told by the game. To ground the term in real life, let’s turn, with a hilarious sense of irony, to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. These games were based on J.K. Rowling’s children’s books, and released (to my memory) to coincide with the release of the films based on the same. So, before the games are made, we’re already working with two layers of narrative. The initial text, and the filmmakers’ interpretation of that text. Then the game makers come along, and they are trying to make a game that more or less follows the events of these earlier narratives with the player in some degree of control of whether or not Harry and his friends and the world survive. In this case, narrative is inescapable. The player is funneled down the narrative path long ago carve out by the author of the novels. New ground is not going to be broken. However, the game makers must somehow suggest to the player that her participation here matters, otherwise why would she bother playing and not just watch the movie instead? So obstacles happen, and things have to be learned and overcome. The issue with this occurs when one of those obstacles runs counter to what the fan knows to be true about the rich narrative tapestry of which this game is a direct derivative product. It’s been a long time since I’ve played one, so this isn’t going to be a perfect example, but if a game late in the series tells the player that Harry must complete some task by using some silly spell he just learned, but the player (who has already been a reader AND a watcher) remembers the Harry knows a much stronger and better spell to solve the problem in front of him, then we’re running into ludonarrative dissonance. Why would he ever do X, which is ridiculous, why I’ve seen him do Y, which not only makes more sense but is what I would do, what I want to do? This is the question at the heart of this discussion. It boils down to, why would I ever do what you’re saying I must, when I’d rather do something else that I know is in my power? This isn’t your boss asking you to come in on Saturday. This is a game, and its supposed to be fun. There aren’t supposed to be obligations. Which I guess brings me back to Far Cry. When this game has shown me the many ways in which my character is not to be trifled with, why would I ever accept that he can be brow-beaten by either of a couple of morally bankrupt revolutionaries? I’ve seen him, directed him to take decisive action in the past, so where is his judgement and critical decision-making now? It’s possible, possible, that in this case, the character’s lack of critical thought is the point. It’s possible that Far Cry 4 is the pinnacle of subtlety and satire and self-awareness in gaming. It is possible that the character’s total lack of hesitation to join a revolution he has no knowledge of, to wield myriad weapons and take countless lives, are meant to be mirrored in the rigidity of the game’s later binary choices. Perhaps Far Cry 4 is an indictment, that calls out the player for accepting the earlier premise that a civilian can become a killing machine overnight while objecting to the later conceit that he would allow himself to be instructed so gruffly by his handlers. Maybe Far Cry is telling us thats somebody who could pick up and do that kind of things we’ve done throughout the course of the game would be incapable or uninterested in thinking out ethical issues on his own, and would be content to choose one side or another. That it doesn’t matter that we wouldn’t make either of these choices, because we shouldn’t be able to identify with this character at all, and if we do we have a larger problem. Perhaps Far Cry 4 is telling us that we in the larger world are too willing to consume without skepticism, without analysis, without a second thought for too many things, and maybe we need to take a long, hard look at what we’re willing to accept just because it’s offered to us as the right way, or the only way, or the truth.

But I doubt it. Although Far Cry 4 is made by Ubisoft, one of the big name game studios right now, it is asking a lot for a game marketed to sell millions of copies to pack in a philosophical treatise that most of its customers probably won’t even notice. Because of the all explosions. More likely, Far Cry 4 finds itself in the same mire that most games today experience; it’s trying to tell a complex and detailed story and give the player freedom at the same time. It’s just like the early 90s X-Men game that was so much fun, except the X-Men could only use their powers for a couple second before they ran out. The X-Men are mutants! Their powers are (in most cases) literally woven into the fabrics of their genes. They don’t run out, their powers are who they are. But for the sake of making a challenging game, or something, the developers put a little bar on the corner of the screen and when it ran out, you were out of powers until it filled up again. Anybody passingly familiar with the narrative backdrop knows that Cyclops would be pumped if he could drain his power gauge for a while and take off those silly sunglasses and look at Jean Grey with his own eyes, but that it could never happen because the dude can’t turn his powers off. So when in the game that gauge runs down to zero, the player who knows thinks, now what the hell is this? But at seven years old, you’re so psyched to be able to be Nightcrawler and teleport through stuff that you don’t even care you can only do it like 3 times- that was so cool!

So we’ve been experiencing ludonarrative dissonance in gaming for a long time, maybe since the beginning. And the thing is, as games get more and more complex, so does the issue, and the chasm grows wider. I could go on for a really long time about all the ways this appears in games. (When you’re playing Uncharted and you’ve JUST opened the door to an ancient secret place, and somehow the bad guys are already inside. Or when the place you’re in is collapsing or sinking or on fire, and the henchmen in addition to NEVER BEING AFRAID OF ANYTHING are still trying to kill you with their last breaths instead of running for their lives. What are they paying these henchmen? Can they really feel so strongly about their boss getting ahold of that jewel or scepter or whatever that they’re going to lay down their lives for it? Are their families compensated? Who would sign up for this job, and be so dedicated to it? Is it a religious thing? Are they on drugs?) Sorry for the long parenthetical. In these examples, unflappable, fervent henchmen are something of a gameplay requirement, to prevent the hero from just making a bee-line out of an exploding temple. The developers don’t want it to be too easy. But I’ve got to say, it can’t be that easy to run a straight line out of a crumbling city. If it is, couldn’t we just make it harder? Add more jumps and turns, instead of suicidally dedicated foot soldiers? But this perceived necessity clashes with the narrative course of the game, and the accepted reality and suspended disbelief of this world. Faced the choice between certain death while impeding me and running to safety, why on earth would an entry-level henchman take the first choice? Doesn’t it make more sense to get out of the sinking ship now, and try and drown me or shoot me or something later, when we’re both safely somewhere else?

Obviously, to explore examples further would be super digressive and I have plenty of material, so I hope what I’ve laid out so far has been sufficiently illuminating. I guess what we have to think about is why games are being made this way, and how to overcome this discord between two cornerstone elements of gaming. The first answer I think is easy. Games came after film, which came after literature, which came after epic poetry recitation, which came after primitive sculpture, which came after cave paintings. Games are made narrative-heavy because that’s how we as humans know how to communicate with each other. We tell stories; we’ve always told stories. We tell stories about heroes and trials and battles and good and evil. They excite us, and they inspire us. They make us strive to be better, and make us wish for opportunity, for adventure. Games have taken hold of those feelings, tapped into them, and offered a way to directly transpose the reader/viewer/listen of the epic tale onto the role of the hero in the story. It seems like a simple switch, but when a person with agency and consciousness is dropped into a scripted narrative, there must be an inherent clash. We are too prone to curiosity, to independence, to not at least try to do something other than what we’re told. The answer to the second question is not as easy. How do we tell someone they’re free in a world that must have boundaries as a consequence of the fact it was made by human hands? And how can we tell them a story without at least encouraging them to participate in a series of events? The answer might lie in fiction. For as long as video games have captured the popular imagination there has been fiction that has imagined what it would be like to be fully immersed in a game world. As far back as 1989, Captain N imagined a (cartoon) kid pulled into a world made of all of the popular games of the time. He joined the heroes of a handful of Nintendo games and defeated their villains, all while existing fully in this digital world. To my recollection, Nickelodeon had a game show with a similar premise, although I can’t remember what it was called at the moment. In 2016 we have shows (this time anime) like Sword Art Online that take the idea of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, like World of Warcraft), which are immersive environments on their own with economies and social circles, and imagines a near-future wherein technology has allowed for a device that connects the player’s whole consciousness to the game world. That is, the player would close his or her eyes, and open them standing in a field in a fictional world, feeling the wind and smelling the grass and tasting the food. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a 2011 novel along the same lines, where the world has gone digital and a device has been invented to immerse the user in a digital landscape that is free and to use and can be edited by anyone. In these worlds, especially in Sword Art Online, the possibility of “what the hell? I don’t want to do that, that’s not what I would do” is eliminated, because the totally sensory immersion, the freedom of choice and movement make it so that the player can do whatever he or she happens to feel like doing at the moment. This admittedly sci-fi conceit, interrupting brain signals to input digital sensory information and that sort of thing, may be a bit far off. Nonetheless, the principle of total player freedom is one that gaming has been making steps toward for some time. Ironically, we may never reach the full player freedom that we had in tabletop games before video games were invented. Back before I was born, nerds gathered as they still do to play Dungeons and Dragons. Although the mission might be under the dungeon master’s control, the players (I think, I’ve never actually played) are free to make any choice they like. They might not be all powerful, and their abilities depend on their characters skills and attributes, but they can attempt anything. Even if they fail, there can be no “that’s not what I would do,” because you choose what you would do. Just like in life, after you make your choice, there is nothing left but to see if it works or not. That to me seems pretty fundamentally fair. In sum, I think removing the technical limitations to players’ in game actions is going to be key to bridging the ludonarrative dissonance gap, although for as much as I’d love to be a game designer I’m admittedly no coder . When games were younger and simpler, we didn’t have to worry as much about the story and the world clashing with the player’s experience, because we hardly knew anything about either of those things. Super Mario Bros. has zero backstory, and it kicked off the most monetarily successful and international popular game franchise, period. The Legend of Zelda opens on one scrolling screen (like Star Wars) and after that the player seldom sees another typed word. And those games made people happy. Presumably, they inspired some of today’s designers to go into the field and to make games played  by millions today. So perhaps what needs to be done in the field is to look to move into the future by remembering the past. We had games that were good, fun and engaging, that didn’t have complex back stories or Hollywood plot lines. Maybe designers need to strive to make games— new, beautifully-rendered 21st century games— that can be fun and satisfying without leaning on the narrative as a necessity. Maybe for games to grow and change, some games need to stop pushing the player down a path, and just open the door on a world for her to explore and discover and delight in on her own. Maybe this way we can rediscover something that kindled a light and love in us such a long time ago, fired our spirits for an adventure, and started us on a lifetime of keeping our eyes open for secrets and treasure.


Feb 17

I regret that my last blog was so negative. I was going to talk about it. I’m not. This week’s Mozilla stuff was cool. I may have been defeating the purpose of the exercise, but I skimmed over all the stuff that involved instructions for educators and got right to messing with whatever the exercise was supposed to be. I don’t feel like I have any use for the other stuff at the moment, so I left it behind to interact with and assess the materials that Mozilla set up or linked to. Or I tried to. Actually, I was kind of frustrated that it wasn’t easier to skip the “for teachers” instructions, which was meta material in my view, and interact with whatever the product was, in some cases. But I guess that speaks to the target audience for this program. They’re trying to teach teachers how to teach the Internet, so the focus will be on teaching and not simply, “look at this,” which is what I was looking for. One thing that stood out was a game that “taught” kids to code by having them use HTML to help their cat avatar jump around the screen. That was a neat idea, although as I played through the demo I didn’t notice a lot of very specific instruction or like any context or anything for the children to be using one or two HTML tags. Maybe because it’s the demo. Maybe the full version is more complete.

I was also drawn to some of the activities addressing cyber security and personal privacy online. A lot of the stuff I saw regarded how to talk to students about these things, and the meanings of terms, and the importance of keeping things private sometimes and how being online doesn’t change that. I think that’s all really valuable stuff and I see why it exists and I think it’s important. Whether it should be a teacher’s job to teach these lessons I think is a separate issue, but I don’t believe it is in the heart of any real educator to leave a student or anyone adrift if they can help it, just because it’s not their job to help them. So good on you teachers, for trying to do what you can in a world that is doing it’s best to not help you out. That said, I skipped all the teacherly stuff to try and find the real information and experience. At one point I realized that while all of the activities we were using we optimized for use in Firefox, at least one required its use specifically. This was an activity that required using an extension. An extension that I would have gladly downloaded and used, but I was then and am now as I almost only am on Safari, and I’m not going to switch for one extension. The extension in question shows the user what websites are using cookies to track them and where they (the cookies) come from. And that’s probably really good to know, especially if you’re trying to keep track of that type of thing, which you probably should be. Whenever we talk (like we as humans in the 21st century) about information security and personal identifiers, revealing true information about ourselves, I think of this fantasy novel I read when I was like 14. It had to do with people and dragons, and this one lady for whatever reason could speak dragon, I think, and as such she was able to learn their names. Not like FireWing or whatever people were calling them, but their true names. And that gave her an incredible amount of power over them. I think when we get too loose about our information (and it’s hard not to be when [as I just found out when I changed my Cookies setting after reading about them] so many websites REQUIRE you to enable cookies) we leave the door open to all kinds of trouble that could give one sneaky, shitty person a tremendous amount of power over us. The more that is known about you, the easier you are to pin down. The easier you are to predict, anticipate, outsmart, and deceive. This is as true in the world as it is on the internet, and we would all do well to remain mindful of it.

 

Matt


Breakthrough

I’m not sure what caused it but I recently had a breakthrough. I was struggling with the connection that my book has to my personal life. I was struggling to answer all of these questions I had about my book. How far do I take the flashbacks in to my past? How do i shape Amanda’s family, do I include my brother? How will the father’s characteristics match my own father’s personality? How do I handle the relationship between Amanda and her mother when I don’t have a relationship with my own mother? I expressed a lot of these concerns to my colleagues and they were very helpful in telling me that I am the writer. No one is expecting me to write this a certain way. They told me to write it the way that I want to and be true to myself. So i have decided to follow their advice. I also found that with long periods of writing I get sucked in to Amanda’s world and I start thinking like her. I’m no longer Melissa and thinking in my cynical ways. Amanda has a different outlook on life. She tries to make the best of everything and although she settles for what life hands her she also knows that she still has a choice with what happens in her life.

I have been writing for a collective 4 hours in the past 2 days and I plan on writing all the way up until class time. I was just trying to take a break from a tough scene to get this blog post done. I find that when I continue to write for an hour straight that Amanda’s world writes itself. I finally introduced her dad and I have written him with some of my dad’s characteristics but his personality is very different from my dad and I am ok with that because I would like to distance my family from this as much as I can. This is a work of fiction not a memoir. I want to keep my options open for how I write the scenes with her mom but I will get to that when the time comes. The good news is that in the past two days I have written 9 pages. I am working towards a goal of 15 pages by Sunday. I have 9 more to go. Hopefully I can work on this more this weekend but we will see how tired I am from work. I am just happy to find that I am having less trouble than I thought I would with some of the stories details.


More conferencing….

Unknown-1For tonight, I want to remember that there are a few “announcements” to share regarding pragmatic issues and planning, so I want to spend the first part of our gathering covering those updates and squaring away some concerns.

I look forward to continuing with the conferencing as we have been conducting for the past several weeks.  There seems to be more momentum now to your writing.  You are in a key phase in your timeline and the trick now is to keep things moving steadily and consistently while attending to the overall process as it unfolds.  We are in now in mid February…this is the time to be cranking it. 🙂

See you soon,

MZ