Category Archives: EBlogs

A Writer’s Journey Through Time and Writing Spaces

In my prezi, I examined changes in the writing process through time as well as different spaces available to the modern writer and the rules that accompany them. I wanted to give a full view of the present, which I felt could only be done by looking at the past and future as well. By looking at the spaces and rules that exist now, I was able to make a few hypotheses about the future of writing as well.

I may have added too much information, as I couldn’t fit it all into the five minute voiceover. I’m sorry about that; please click through the full prezi to see all of the details.

The prezi with voiceover can be watched here >

The full prezi can be found here >


Right Away, Write Away

I’ve created a prezi called Right Away, Write Away  that describes what writing has come to and where it may go in the future. I have put this presentation together with knowledge gained through class and videos and article seen outside of class. I start by describing what it is to write and to be a writer, continuing through a few minutes of showing what it is like being a writer (both the ups and the downs). At the end of my presentation, I describe how Apple’s Siri may be the next step in electronic writing in terms of vocal chronicling.

Good Ol’ Paper

Writing with paper is inviting for many, if not all, writers. Even with the age of technology, most avid writers still bring a pen and small notebook around with them to jot down ideas for a piece. This feeling of using a physical utensil to write is often very attractive to writers, myself included, because it is something learned from an early age and often helps ideas flow better. With that said, paper can take up space that a writer may not have at any given time and pens and pencils can run out of ink or break. This can discourage some writers from using this form because of the redundant buying of new supplies.

Paper is historically the most familiar writing space. In all corners of the world paper is used to relay messages and meaning. Many people first learn to read and write with paper and continue to do so even with the new spaces at their disposal and while it is nice to receive an e-mail from a friend on your birthday, a handwritten letter from grandmother cannot be beat.

Paper as a writing space can give the writer as sense of tactile existence. Showing that whatever a person has written is more than merely a megabyte of data but is a physical concept that can be touched, smelled, seen, and maybe even sometimes heard (also tasted, but that’s not recommended).

Writing on paper has a few main constraints that make it a sometimes obsolete form. One way it may restrict a writer is its singularity. For example, if one would like to write on paper about how their day was, the only ones who would see this would be anyone close enough to see that single page. Another problem is that it is a slow process to spread the material that has been produced. A hand written letter will take time to reach its recipient and a novel will take a much longer time to be sent to individual book stores.

When writing on paper, it is almost always key to be at a standstill. Writing on a bus, while walking, or any movement at all can sometimes cause a writer to mess up or ruin a piece of writing. Hand writing is often not a good space to write in for a person who is on the move, at least not when composing something that needs to be presentable. For things like journalist notes, quick letters, or things of that sort, paper can be easy to jot down on in a hurry.

Many things can happen to paper after a writer has finished their work. It is often a permanent feeling space due to its tactility but can be very easily lost (in the mail, in between other papers, accidentally thrown away). Even with that in mind, the permanence of ink is something forever prominent in the mind of a writer, causing careful and slow handwriting. Planning and drafts are a helpful tool done on other paper before a final draft of something is composed.

Writing on paper is a very old and sometimes secrete art. Until very recently, it was the primary source or writing and is still a very primary source of reading. Writing on paper is something that I believe will not be going away any time soon, not in my lifetime at least.

Twitter analysis: Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself)

In case anyone reading this doesn’t know, Neil Gaiman is a short story and novel writer who focuses mostly on science fiction and fantasy stories. Two of his more well-known books are Coraline and American Gods. I love the feeling he brings to his prose; he’s able to create vastly different worlds but let the main character keep human quirks and qualities. He is among my favorite authors.

Mr. Gaiman is following a diverse group of people on Twitter. Many of them are other writers, but he also follows musicians, comedians, and a handful of newsfeeds about Doctor Who (should have known he was a fan). His follower list hints that he is interested in keeping up with a large community of writers, but he’s also a guy who likes to laugh and have a good time. He also follows some novelty accounts, like DRUNK HULK.

I’ve been following Mr. Gaiman for a while now (which sounds so creepy if taken out of context), and he is constantly interacting with his fans. Usually when someone gets to a certain level of fame they become untouchable, but Mr. Gaiman is still able to hold conversations and seems genuinely interested in what his fans have to say. I think this is an excellent example of social networking done right. He isn’t the type to only answer questions about himself or his writing; he holds real conversations about real topics. I think many other celebrities on Twitter could follow his lead (so to speak) and learn something about effective communication.

Mr. Gaiman also was the original proposer of All Hallows Read, and he is a strong advocate for the movement. If anyone is looking for something to give out this Halloween that’s healthier than candy, how about a copy of Coraline?

Cheers, and happy tweeting!

Filter Me Out (hyperlinks out of order)

Internet filtering, I am afraid to say, can without a person even noticing. In Eli Pariser’s TED Talk speech (1), he goes over how websites are now filtering out things that they think you do not want to see. On Google, it will give you results that is more your taste, on Facebook it will only bring up friends in your news feed that you often click on, and even Yahoo filters the news you see by what it thinks you will be more interested in. This scary new technology is a potential blinder to people across the world.

Instead of giving people views that conflict with theirs and that could possibly make them question what they think is true, websites are now giving people a false sense of being correct. No matter how many times you tell someone that everything they find on the internet is not true, more often than not a person got a large amount of there knowledge from Google. I do it, you do it, we all do it; but now more than ever the internet is not always going to have the answers. Yes, the internet is an amazing source of information if a person looks in the right places, but people are lazy and Google is easy.

So remember, next time your trolling the search links of Google for something simple like whether the Holocaust actually happened or not (2), remember that these search engines may not be as reliable as you were hoping.



My Right Eye (work in progress)

As a writer, I often find myself writing stories about my own life. Especially about events that have changed me in big ways. The only problem with that is, it’s hard for me to know what to change and what to leave in. This is a story I’ve rewritten many times and am just recently rewriting for my Creative Writing course. I am just now realizing that i have a huge group of writers that I can utilize to help my writing get better. So if anyone is interested, I’d like some input and editing tips.

My Right Eye

Covering my right eye, most of my room is invisible to me. I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it many more times in the future. It’s not the same eye Billy can’t use, but it is my dominant one which is the feature I prefer to mimic. Simply looking at the ceiling, all I can see is the blue wall next to me, leading into darkness in my single-eyed periphery. Everything else is hidden, were my right eye should be. Like I do most nights I simply lay, half covered in my blanket, remembering. This time is different though. I don’t just remember the day it happened, I recall every day it effected afterwards. Which it turns out, is every single one.

*“I don’t want to keep doing this. I can’t keep doing this.” Again, you’re leaving. Leaving her because she doesn’t make me happy. “It’s not you, really, it’s me.” Cliché. And not just any cliché, the mother of them all. You can do better than that. “I just don’t know how to be happy. There’s something inside of me.” That’s it. Lie to her; tell her why it’s not her fault. Then again, why doesn’t she make you happy?

She loves you, treats you right, she’s smart, so what is it? What are you so afraid of? She’s not going to hurt you.

“I promise if you let me try, I can make you happy.” She’s desperate; it hurts to hear her like this. But can she? Can anyone really? Maybe it really is you, letting your life tick away second by second every day. Subconscious maybe? What’s wrong up in that brain of ours? Are you afraid of her not making you happy, or are you just afraid you’ll end up hurting her?

*Oh god. What’s wrong in here? Everything feels so fuzzy and confusing. What happened? There was the football practice, alright, but that couldn’t be what’s wrong. The ringing in your ears blocks out the question on this woman’s lips. But aren’t they a strange pair of lips? So big for such a small girl. And she’s only just a girl isn’t she? They make her look like a fish that was drawn by a toddler, gasping for oxygen under all that water.

“The first president?” huh. You know this. Let’s think. Man, there sure are a lot of people her. When did that happen? And why are we on the game field? It is day time so we’re definitely practicing, but we only practice here the day before games. How weird is this?

“December fifteenth.” Finally. I knew we’d get that one. What’s she looking at me like that for?

“Come with me. We’re going to have to call your parents.”

Ahhh. It feels good to be home, but why does Dad keep asking so many questions?

“I guess a lot it all foggy, but I remember a lot of stuff. One thing I’m happy not to remember is the accident. I can’t remember it at all.”

That look on his face, it looks like hurt, but the way he’s talking is angry. “Don’t lie about things like that Eric, it’s just a fucking concussion.” And there he goes. I wonder what you said to upset him so bad. He looked pretty hurt. Better be careful the next time you talk to him.

*Back and forth. Back and forth. You’re like a pendulum aren’t you. But it is nice. Not thinking, not caring, just riding this small piece of wood with wheels across your driveway. Oh no, here comes your cousin.

“What’sup bud?” Oh god, not now. I don’t need a pity party right now.

“Nothing. I was about to go down to the skate park.” Good hint. Hopefully he’ll take it and go back inside.

“Well… that’s cool. You know, everyone’s inside if you want to come in. we’re probably going to do dinner.”

“Alright, I’ll be home later.” Clean get away. You’re not dealing with family right now. You just want to be alone with your thoughts. The breeze kisses your skin as you ride, leaving a chill that runs deeper and deeper the further you go, until it’s no longer the breeze that cools you, it’s your own frigid skin.

*The driveway feels even longer as you hear the playful screams of your brother and his friends. You’re never one to miss out on some fun, hurry up and find out what’s going on. Coming around the long bend, chaos is the first thing you face. Screaming eighth graders firing on two high school seniors with a wide range of bee-bee guns. Is that a sniper rifle one kid has? This is insanity!

The two high schoolers (one being your older brother) go into the house as protection. What side should you choose? Well, you have always loved an underdog story. But to find a gun, you’ll need to use some guile.

“Billy I’m on your team, gimme a gun!” Yes, fool your little brother into believing you’re with them. His friends come closer and you see some wear goggles, or masks, or nothing covering their face at all. A sniper rifle? Not bad at all. “I’m gonna go in and act like I’m with them, then I’ll unlock the door.” Running up, you scream for Nick to let you in. as he opens the door, you turn and fire on Billy’s team, effectively scattering them. Taking the opportunity, you lead Nick and his friend up into the attic of the garage.

Things move quickly as you begin firing blindly down at the kids beneath you. Billy, your baby brother, runs forward to hit the gun with a bat and just as he is going to swing, you pull the trigger.

The scream is something you’ve never heard before. And at first, you’re mad. Of course Billy had to be the little baby to ruin our time. Of course he had to wait until you shot him to over react.

“It’s in his eye! It’s in his eye!” What? No. No way. You see Nick jump down from the attic, completely disregarding the ladder and run for Billy. You do the same and fall when you hit the ground. Lifting your head from the garage floor, something strange is there in front of you. Crimson droplets leading away towards the door to the house. Full speed, shoving everyone from your way, you find Nick asking Billy to open his eye so he can see. But he can’t. It’s already begun to swell as you walk over and grab his face.

“Billy I’ve sorry. I’m so sorry.” The sound of Nick calling 911 and begging for an ambulance is all you can hear besides your own crying as you cradle his head and hope to god you didn’t ruin Billy’s life. It’s all your fault.

*I lay, covering my eye in my college dorm. Thinking about this thing, this blindness that would have crushed me, I start to think of how it didn’t crush Billy. He’s so strong; it actually made him more personable. More resilient. He can handle anything now. And I would have given up.

And I always thought of how I needed to protect him after that, to keep him looking up. But maybe I’m not the one that kept him looking up.

*The musical is only one act, but Billy and his friend wrote and acted in it. As the last song plays, “Don’t Stop Believing” and he’s center stage, you cry. And you have never been more proud in your entire life.

A week without Facebook draws to a close.

When I was perusing the class website last Thursday night and read that we were going to have to give up Facebook for a week, I felt strange. I’ve already explained my interesting relationship with social networking in a previous post, and if you read that you know that I spend time on Facebook but I don’t consider my use of the site to be productive in any way.

Not being on Facebook has been liberating, but still annoying at times. Instead of checking Facebook in the morning when I woke up, I read articles or looked at news sites. Instead of constantly opening the Facebook app on my phone to see friends complaining about silly things, I checked my Twitter and saw useful links that I might have missed later in the day (I follow a bunch of writers and writing tip tweeps). I don’t understand how I spent so much time on Facebook, seeing as I was able to stay off of it so easily. I realised I mostly keep an eye on my family and close friends to see what they’re up to. Without using Facebook I have to call/text them, and my school and work schedule lead to me doing so at odd hours. I also realised that I find a lot of things online that I would like to share with my friends, and without being able to post on their wall or tag them I had to find more creative ways to share the information that I found. The most annoying thing was when I was with my tech-savvy friends and they’d start a conversation with, “Hey, did you see so-and-so on Facebook?” and proceed to talk about it. I felt excluded, but got over it quickly.

This experiment allowed me to spend more time with Twitter and get to know the site a little more intimately. I’m shocked at the amount of information I get from my feed every day. I know it depends on who you follow, but it’s still overwhelming. I’ve been trying to use that site strictly as a writing student to build my persona as someone who shares articles that I believe could be helpful to others. I still goof around a bit on there, but that also says something about my personality.

I’ve also been playing around with my own personal WordPress blog, which I hope to launch before November. Stay tuned for more info on that, and I’d truly appreciate feedback when I get it up and running.

As an off-topic side note, is anyone planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I’d like to, and it’s always easier when you know other people who are doing it, too.

Cheers and happy Facebooking!

Time to talk about video games (and much more)

(I wanted to practice creating a saturated blog post full of outside media, and this is a topic I am passionate about. Enjoy!)

Michael Highland’s video “As Real As Your Life” struck a chord with me. In the video, he discusses his gaming addiction and the appeal of video games to the younger generations. I consider myself a gamer, though I’m not an addict. I appreciate video games as both an escape for me and a creative platform for the creators, and believe they are much more than a sum of their parts. I have friends who’ve studied game creation, my friend Brad is currently a level designer working for Gearbox Software, and through them I have seen bits and pieces of the sheer amount of work that goes into creating a game. Game design goes far beyond writing and programming.

In the video, Michael says, “Unlike any pop culture phenomenon before it, video games actually allow us to become part of the machine… we are interacting with our entertainment.” This is the quintessence of the appeal video games have. You no longer have to watch your entertainment as an outsider; instead, you become a pivotal part of the storyline. Without you, there is no story. Personally, my favorite games are open world games, like the Elder Scrolls series, and survival horror games, namely the Silent Hill series, which have solid storylines surrounding the main character and his/her actions.

If I may go off on a tangent for a moment, Michael was a bit mistaken by saying no pop-culture phenomenon has allowed us to become a part of it. Remember those choose-your-own-adventure storybooks? I was addicted to my Give Yourself Goosebumps set when I was younger. While this isn’t total immersion, you were still able to have a say in what happened during the story. There are also choose-your-own-adventure videos popping up now and again on the web. An excellent survival horror video on YouTube is Survive the House. (WARNING: this is addictive, please don’t use it to procrastinate.) I’m assuming this interactive video concept was modeled on the idea of video games, but I still wanted to include it as an example of other media that you interact with.

But, I digress, let’s get back to video games. Continue reading

Social networks! Social networks everywhere!

I had to read a few articles on social networking this week for my special topics class, Professions in Writing Arts (everyone who wants to pursue a career in writing should take this class if you can, it’s incredibly informative). I thought they added nicely to our discussion of social networks. While we’re mostly focusing on Twitter and blogging for this class, there are so many other options out there that you can use to build a bigger, better online persona.

The first article, Social Networking for Writers – How to Network like a Pro, and Why Every Writer Should, is fairly self-explanatory. Robin Parrish discusses using the sites to create your brand and get the notice that you deserve.

The second site isn’t an article, but a list of the Best Social Networking Sites and Message Boards for Writers. This list is extensive and I only knew of two of these sites before reading it. There are many message boards and communities out there where writers can post their work to get feedback and constructive criticism, which can be hard to find outside of a workshop-centered course or a writing club.

I hope this is helpful! I sincerely think everyone who is thinking of a career as a writer or considering going to graduate school for writing should take the Professions class. It’s a special topic 1 credit class that runs for only 5 weeks, and so far I feel like I’ve learned more than I have in some of my full 15 week classes. Our class website is here if you’d like to see what we’ve been covering.

Cheers and happy networking!

Social networks for creative people

While exploring the Twittersphere for my Writing, Research and Tech class, I came across a link to article called The Top 10 Social Networks for Creative People by Mark McGuinness. Writing is considered creative, so I thought I’d read it over. The article started out with a section outlining why you need to be involved with social networking to survive in a creative profession. The author’s points are strong and encouraging. It was a strong start.

Then, I encountered something that I don’t usually see: in each section of the article the author focused on a certain social network, and each section includes snippets from creative people in different fields talking about their experience with the social network in question. Real people! There aren’t any full interviews, but there are short bursts from people who seem comfortable in the networks they choose to use. I thought it was really neat to see people in different fields discussing what social networking has actually done for them. It’s easy to think of popular Twitter handles or LinkedIn profiles as an entity on their own, but it’s important to remember that each profile is run by a real person, and through their social media we are getting to know a small part of that person.

Since this article is aimed at all forms of creativity, not only writing, so some sections and snippets aren’t explicitly related to us as writers. I still think we can learn from this article and see a small sample of information from the people who use the sites effectively, no matter their specific creative field. Definitely worth a read.

You can follow the author of the article on Twitter @markmcguinness. His other contact information is scattered throughout the article.

The link that I saw was tweeted by Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) who runs a blog about writing, self-publishing and marketing. Check out her blog out if you haven’t. She also offers a great information package on self-publishing called The Author 2.0 Blueprint. It’s free!