Posted by Joe Harris
Getting Started/Moment of Zen
Fastwrite: Describe the space where you usually write in a way that tells us something about who you are and how you approach your work.
I’d like us to break into two groups for about 30 minutes. One group will look at two examples (by Xan McKnight and Tim Xue) of a person-based piece designed around a series of questions-and-answers; the other group will look at two examples (by Rachel Revelle and Andrew Brown) of person-based pieces structured as profiles. The task for both groups will be to design a “lesson” that offers some ideas and advice about how these pieces might be developed in revision. Specifically, I’d like you to formulate some thoughts on:
- Further research;
- Style and structure;
- Format and document design.
- Rev 3, due Tues, 11/03, 11:00 AM
- MAT Info Session, Tues, 11/03, 5:00-6:15 PM, Career Center, Smith Warehouse, Classroom, Bay 6, first floor
- R8, responses to Rev 3, due Wed, 11/04, 11:00 AM
- Dave Eggers at Duke, Wed, 11/10, want to go?
What has worked well for you in this course so far? What would you like to see me do differently?
(One More) Moment of Zen
New Course for Spring 2011
English 109CS: Digital Writing
Monday, 6:00-8:30 PM, Perkins Link, Seminar 1
I’d like you to ground your next piece for this course in what I’ve called person-based research. Identify someone you’d like to write about, make an appointment to talk with her or him, do some background research, take notes while you’re talking, record your conversation if you can.
Person-based pieces tend to be most interesting when there is an idea or question or issue driving them. That is, you want to identify someone you want to talk to and write about for a particular reason: they’ve done some work you admire, had some experiences you want to find out more about, know something you want to learn about.
Your piece may take any of several different forms: a question-and-answer interview, a survey or grid, a discussion about a particular issue, a narrative profile. If you need to talk with more than one person to write the sort of piece you want, that’s fine. You should also feel free to supplement your piece as needed with video or audio.
If at all possible, you should ask the person you interview to read the piece you end up writing, so they can confirm that you’ve represented them accurately and fairly. If you decide to develop and revise this piece, I will insist that you obtain the consent of your subject in writing.
The deadline for this piece is 11:00 AM, Tues, 10/26. Please post your work to your personal dropbox folder.
Posted by Joe Harris
Describe the person(s) you plan to interview for X5. Say why you think she or he will be an interesting subject for a profile.
Private: What is the status of this profile? Have you set up a time to meet yet?
Q&A: Deborah Solomon, NY Times
Diagram or Grid: Chronicle on Nowicki and Kiehart
Background: Zimmer on Colbert and “Truthiness”
Narrative Profile: Berger on Subcommodante Marcos (Best Essays), or Schmiddle on Anas Aremeyaw Anas (Atlantic)
In groups of three: Drawing on the examples you’ve brought in, come up with two to four good tips about document design (that we haven’t discussed previously).
Thinking towards publication
For next week
- X5 due 11:00 AM, Tues, 10/26, in personal dropbox folder
- R7: Brief comments (posted to website) on three projects you hadn’t read before
- Identify a local publication (Duke, Durham, your hometown) that you might be interested in placing your work in. Bring a copy with you to class.
Moment of Zen
Posted by Grace Kohut
I started writing this piece for the X4 assignment (writing a text). I was very excited when we were assigned this because words have always been important to me and this was my opportunity to write about my quote book. I got some great feedback and encouragement from the class and so I decided to put my other revision on hold and continue with this work.
My first draft was essentially all about e.e. cummings so professor Harris suggested I should use the actual quote book as my text while using cummings as a sort of guide. I loved that idea… but, let me tell you, it was hard. My second draft, to borrow from the words of Professor Harris, was more of a 1+1=2 rather than a 1×1=1. I knew exactly what he meant (see the piece to understand). So then I set forth to create my world of multiplication. This is what I’ve come up with. I hope you like it!
Posted by Andrew Brown
This piece began as my X2, when we were instructed to write about an object. I then developed it further for both my Rev 1 and my Rev 2. Although this piece started off focusing only on the Harkness table, I knew immediately that it would be bigger than that. My writing group loved the part of my X2 where I railed against desks. For my Rev 1 I focused on adding more history about the origins of the Harkness Table, and how it is associated with Exeter, my high school. Although some of the information I added was necessary, it was apparent from my writing group that I had veered off course a bit. For Rev 2 I cut out about half of the history on the Harkness table, and instead focused on adding information about education furniture in general. I wrote a whole section on the origin of the basic classroom desk, and tracked how that invention helped spur the creation of the Harkness table. For the final draft I focused on better integrating the various sections of my piece. There seemed to be gaps in my logic at times, so I tried to mend those. I also added images of both the original classroom desk and the Harkness table; I think these will help bring the objects to life for the reader. On the whole I think I’ve written an interesting piece about American education that is both informative and thought provoking.
Posted by Zeewan Lee
This piece started out as an X2, the one about an object of importance. Initially, the piece only included my climbing the arch-shaped ladder, with the focus on my act of climbing itself and a little bit of the terror of climbing it. When I went over the original piece with my writing group, all the members — including me, that is — realized what was hidden in the story and could be further developed was the part about my relationship with my father, and a child’s yearning to please her father. For the past thirteen years, from the day I had to climb up that ladder for the first time, I always thought my being obsessed with the ladder was due to the fact that I had not yet conquered it. After talking to my amazing writing group about it and re-reading the original piece many times, nevertheless, I have realized that it was not the ladder itself but the disappointed and sad look on my father’s face that still lingers in my memory and pains me. So I have revised the piece to tell the story of my father and me as opposed to just me. The tone of the piece has completely changed as well, from super-bubbly, childish, and hopeful to rather melancholic — and yet, hopefully, still hopeful.
Initially, I planned the piece to develop into a short biography of my father, and I might do that for Project 2. But for the moment I have decided to leave the story revolve around my climbing the ladder and my watching my father react.
This piece reveals more about me than I expected it to. I usually do not like telling people about myself, and so I have hesitated so much before developing this piece into Project 1. But oh well, here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
Posted by Rachel Revelle
When I was considering an object of interest on which to write, I looked over at the bookshelf in my room and struck on my subject. The physicality of bookshelves has increasingly enthralled me. Friends have commented on my book collection, which has made me think more on their meaning to me. This project, then, has been a gratifying way to flesh out my views. ‘
I originally just outlined the process of filling my bookshelves, using the influence and tradition of many family bookshelves. Useful commentary from my writing group then led me to add more personal anecdotes as a way to illustrate my practices and motivations. The final draft now progresses more clearly from the power of the written word, through my process of collecting and arranging bookshelves, to the conclusion that they display who I am as a person. I also added text-based documentation and, of course, formatted more carefully and creatively. I hope that I have added some variance to my style while still presenting a clear and poignant expression of my beliefs.
I don’t like talking about my gramma. Not that I don’t like to talk about her, it is just that when I do, I get upset and cry almost every time and that gets really old after awhile. Writing this paper was difficult (in a kind of funny way) because I would think about it, cry, and then have to wait for the tears to go away to keep writing. It would be those big, fat tears that just sit on your lower eye lid until they build up and fall down your face. It is extremely difficult to see through tears! That is why I would have to wait. It got really annoying because a part of me was ready to write and the other part of me wanted to curl up in a ball on my bed and sob like an emo kid. It was bizarre.
I never intended on having this as my first project. It was the first piece I brought in to the writing group and they liked it. I figured I would be done with the piece for good after that day. However, when I asked my writing group should I use X1 or X5 that they read for Project 1, all of them said they wanted me to do X2, which was the piece on my gramma. I never really said how sad it made me or how difficult it was for me to write, but I figured if they liked it so much then maybe others would too, even though I dreaded the writing process for it. It started off with just me telling the story from when I was 9 to a conclusion on what happened now that I am 20. Eventually I added in more from the perspective as a 20 year old, but added in more experiences, like when I was 10 and when I was 15, and over all I added more detail to everything.
I’m glad that I did it. I feel a little bit better now.
posted by Eriks Reks
I started off this essay thinking about the Kindle that I had recently purchased. I figured talking about that would flush out any ideas I had about technology and reading. While I did end up having many things to say, it unfortunately ended up being too much. With my second revision of my x2, I had this essay about a whole mess of stuff—science fiction, education, people sitting in front of YouTube, etc. If I had 5 months to write this essay then I probably would have tried to manage all of the things I was originally talking about. But I didn’t so I resorted to talking about books—something that I knew was at the heart of the essay to begin with. Perhaps my essay is a little simple and quirky; all I do is talk about loving books. However, in its simplicity, I hope the truth of a bookworm’s love for books resonates. It isn’t really complicated why we love particular things in life; we just do.
Posted by Erica Lin
This piece began as a combination of my X1-3’s. The similarity in my writing approaches to each allowed me to unite them in a blog-like essay. Therefore, during my first revision, I focused on preserving this characteristic writing style by re-writing portions that deviated from such. I was, however, having trouble transitioning through the three smaller pieces. Additionally, my piece concentrated solely on autobiographical sources; the group input on my initial draft provided me with examples on how to insert other sources into my writing. For the subsequent revision, I reviewed personal blogs, yoga websites, and internet searches about flying, in general. In addition to incorporating information from the latter two, I experimented with the physical design in order to better connect the smaller pieces. My final version has a similar appearance to a blog.