I am still summarily submerged in the excitingly frigid waters of J-Term, not yet able to truly see the time in perspective, but I’ll attempt to remove myself; float above the surface and see what reflects back, despite the chopping surf and howling winds of chaotic opinionthoughts. I began the semester with high expectations. I hadn’t really conceived just how short 1 month really is, and had grand visions of putting my entire study abroad experience to paper (or screen). I struggled to create the first piece, using the ham-fisted premade online tools, but they were good in forcing me to put concept before execution, and in the end I managed to scrape something together that was pretty interesting.
My growth as a writer has had a fairly standard refrain, which basically has me, daunted by my own nay-saying, yet eventually able to just force myself to write and, well, look at that… it came out pretty well… hot damn. _rinse and repeat…_
The most rewarding part of the semester, and one of the strongest motivators for my choosing to spend my writing time under BG is the plethora of writing games designed to shake up our (writing) realities a bit. These are just what I need to get away from my traditional writing mindset, which is rather locked-down, not to mention intimidating. As I spent a few minutes looking over my EL170 blog (which I’ve just imported, see the archives) I noticed that the results of the exercises, especially the 100 words pieces, have been much more complete and well-rounded. My ability to write to the constraints without being as splayed out in intimidated perfectionist frustration has been rather refreshing.
As I mentioned above, I set out on this J-Term journey with a very specific goal in mind: to write about my semester in Mongolia. While I never wrote the mega-piece, or series of essays I had envisioned (especially after spending a month writing an academic paper, and wanting to process that material into creative work), I did manage to relate a number of pieces to my time abroad, including in-class exercises (like the box thing) a multimedia piece, and a 100-word entry.
My final piece went through an interesting evolution. For the first, super rough draft, I began by writing out the few threads I could think of, basically as separate pieces, then trying to mash them together. In workshop, it was clear I had a swiss-cheese-like essay, bunched together to look like the whole it was not. But I’d already written all I could think of, right? So back to work, writing… and writing… in short inspired bursts (and doing loads of research, my all-time favorite method of procrastination. Other than writing posts about racism in metal. I also did some fieldwork, sending out questions to the metal community in an attempt to gain some perspective, though none of that material made it into the paper as such.). I ended up with bunch more threads; which then got smashed in with the rest. As I spent my last several days revising, and revising, then revising some more… (I cut it up and taped it back together from scratch) I started to realize that something was missing; there was a connection that I was searching for, but had been to scared to really investigate (so cliché; but true! I swear!) So, despite all the revising I’d done, and the decent draft I’d produced, at 2am on the night before it was due, I sat and wrote out the final thread by hand. (Then my blog went fubar. twice. but that’s another story).
So as I wrote in my private self-eval, I have diverse opinions about the semester, depending on the perspective I take. Disciplinarily, I guess it was so-so; I wrote a lot, and more than I usually do, but I never developed a strong writing practice (same time, no matter what, etc…) — which is discouraging (if I can’t get it together during J-Term, then how will I do it during the regular semester?). I was also less than diligent with some of the in-class exercises; though I was spending my time experimenting with ideas for my final essay. Which brings me to the final point; if judged on what I produced, I’m quite satisfied. I’ve got a blog full of snippets and shorts, a few medium-sized pieces, and one super-mega-braided essay that is pretty funky and cool, if I may say so (and METAL \m/)