Monday, June 2, 2014

Dear Blog Reader,
Over the course of the year, as you may know, part of my curriculum involving many of my classwork assignments has been for this blog. Making various blog posts, commenting on fellow classmates blogs, the works. Being completely honest, I myself haven't kept up on every post and assignment given, but I enjoyed every bit I worked on. There were a few complications involving different writing styles I wasn't really accustomed too, but it made me a better writer in the process. Of course there was always the occasional battle with writers block, but everybody has that showdown at some point in their life. You’ve just got to fight on, hog tie it into submission, and try to continue on with your work until it gets loose again. The point I'm so painfully trying to get across, is that despite some of the more tougher assignments, it's always worth it when you finally get everything posted and finished. There's nothing quite like when you finally finish something and get it posted. That great feeling of being done with something--I mean...accomplishment...Yeah.

Now normally, with an assignment like this I'd try to keep things formal, but with a lot of the nonsense and goofiness in, well, most of my posts, it wouldn't really seem to fit the theme. And come on, the last thing I want is for the most important post of this year to be the black sheep of the bunch. That'd just be unfair. In actuality, I just want this post to still be entertaining enough for people to read the whole thing. However, I am going to try and keep it all to a minimum. That being said, I'm now going to continue on with the actual purpose of this post. To regale you with tales of my findings! Translation: I'm going over my growth as a writer and my experience from this year.

Throughout the year, there have been a variety of different assignments to post on the blog. As stated above, some were more challenging than others. By working through these difficulties, and grasping a firmer understanding of the concepts of each individual post, I was able to gain a new perspective with my writing. The deal with these posts is that they all have to pertain to the subject of the blog. In other words, since my blog is about book reviews, whatever I post must be about, or relating to books, book reviews, writing, short stories, etc, etc. This can pose some issues when you don’t really have a clear idea of how to approach your subject.

As an example of something I found difficult, take the SSR assignments. SSR Stands for Self Selected Response. Basically you have to find an article or video, or something that pertains to your subject, and respond to it. Present your views and opinions what you have chosen to respond to. Now, it seems simple enough to just go find something on your subject and give a response, but considering my subject is basically writing itself, that just lets me run with a blank slate. I don’t know how easy that is for other people, but I don’t like to run with blank slates. There’s way too many options, and I’m a very indecisive person. At lunch I tend to stand in front of the fridges in stores, staring at all of the drinks, trying to narrow it down and pick something. This can go on for over ten minutes sometimes because I don’t know exactly what I want and start to over think, and go over every option. Now Imagine that kind of indecisiveness with the bottomless pit  known as the internet...I never even know where to start!

This may explain why if you look over my blog, there’s only one SSR. I could never really narrow it down enough to pick something, however, this specific SSR is my pattern recognition SSR. Meaning we had to respond to some sort of pattern involving our subjects. At first, I didn’t know what that meant. But then my teacher gave an example of something I could use. The sorting system on I barely had to think about it before realizing: Okay, I can do this. I’m familiar with it, I get what I’m supposed to do now, and I can give a detailed response. And that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a lengthy SSR, and when I was done, I felt accomplished with myself for finally completing one, and once I had actually wrote one, knew better what they were supposed to be like.

Another issue I had was with actual book reviews. Yeah, I know. Way to pick a topic, right? Well, in the beginning of the year I wasn’t thinking about that, I was just trying to come up with something I could work with, that I’d enjoy doing. So book reviews came to mind because I love reading. When the time came to do an actual book review I started having flashbacks of fourth grade, the last time I actually had to write book reviews. Every month we had to pick a book from a different genre, make some sort of art piece that has to do with the novel, and write a book review. I just remember basically writing a summary and my opinion, turning it in, and getting D’s because they weren’t actual book reviews. Though I still liked that teacher, I can’t remember if I just never actually asked how to write book reviews, or if she just didn’t explain it well enough for me to understand.

Either way, when the time came to write a book review for the blog, I was stumped. I think I ended up staring at the computer screen for half the class before just winging it and doing what I could. The next week when I had to write another my teacher commented that I needed to write a complete review...with no specific examples of what I had left out. I had a few options at that point. I could ask the teacher for help, and admit that I had chosen a topic I wasn't completely sure how to do, or do something else and try to figure it out on my own again. I did something else. I turned to the internet and searched how to write a book review. Surprisingly, it wasn't an easy search, and I had to haphazardly string together a “correct” book review with several different instructions. It still wasn't that great, and I still didn't have a firm grasp of how to write them, but it was passable.

Then I lucked out. The whole class had to write book reviews and post them. My teacher went over the basic how-to’s and showed us a few examples of good, and bad ones written by students. For once I did the smart thing to do. I took notes, grabbed and read a book from the library, compared with my notes, and wrote a decent book review. It was short and sweet, had all of the important information, gave a brief summary without spoilers, and gave my opinion. At last I have a clear view on how to write a book review.

Over the year there were other assignments I enjoyed. The humor blog was fun, I just got to goof off and find humor relating to books, and a few cheesy jokes. There were guest blogs where we got to have someone else from a different blog come write about our respective subjects. The passion blogs were difficult, yet fun to work with once the ball starts rolling. We even got to write a few creative blogs, where I quite enjoyed writing a short story, and once again came face to face with the fact that I am not a poet. (Suprise, suprise.)  Couldn’t be done. I basically had to try my best with rhyming and hope it made sense. Another problem I’ve had with this blog is keeping my posts brief. I don’t know why, but I just can’t keep them short and simple.

Having this blog also opened my eyes a little wider to computer usage. Before this I wasn't very good with making links, I learned a few tricks to make sure certain websites are credible, and I didn't even know embedding was a thing. Unfortunately due to camera issues, I haven’t been able to post any vlogs, but I still retained how to embed videos none the less. Added to the additional knowledge of writing stated throughout this post, I’d say taking this Modes of Writing class was worth while.

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