Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Wildwood Effect

I don't have time to exapnd on this fully, but over the course of the last few weeks, I have been surprised at how much my Wildwood education has come in handy. All the skills that I learned: public speaking, presontation, writing skills, critical thinking, all of them. They have really allowed me to stay aove the curve so far this year. Granted these are just intro classes, but a good start is much better than a bad one :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Pain and Agony of Writing

I wrote this for English class. I haven’t proofed it yet, and it's really raw, but it's a nice stream of consciousness I think. I'd give it a B? B+ maybe? I'll have to read it again in the morning.

Ah writing, the age-old method of communication, education and entertainment. There are many way to write, different standards and practices for every language of the world, different types of writing (essay, analysis, editorial, novel, truth, fiction, short story, fantasy, etc) to fill any void that needs filling. Writing is also one of those things that is required of anyone wishing to pursue any sort of career in which one wishes to move up. No one is saying that in order to be successful you must be an accomplished writer, but basic communication relies on writing skills. So why is it that only a few take pleasure in writing? That is to say, why is it only a few who take pleasure in non-opinion based writing? These questions I will answer by exploring my own writing process.
Starting with the pre-write, roadblocks pop up. In writing (perhaps sans some but not all opinionated [op-ed, editorial, essay] writing) the first step is brainstorm. You can’t write something of any academic, analytical, or entertainment value without having a basic outline of what you want to talk (write) about. Personally, I take about half a day either in a Library, or in my room if it is quiet, to jot down or outline my ideas. I gather evidence for a literary analysis, or construct a skeleton of my piece on paper. In my opinionated writings I can sometime jump right in (especially if I am passionate about the subject), but even then I like to take a few minuets to construct a mental outline. Back to analytical writing though, after jotting down these ideas I move to write a thesis. I don’t set anything in stone yet, but before I organize evidence, I need to know my argument. Naturally, I organize my evidence based on the argument presented in my thesis, and from there topic sentences are generated. Finally, I end the pre-write by rethinking and reshaping the thesis and topic sentences to so they work to compliment each other, and that the topic sentences are just that, topics for the paragraph.
Once I have completed the pre-write, the intro must be written. Depending on the paper, this can take anywhere from 10 to 100 minuets to complete, although, I usually average 15. The intro of course serves two, sometimes three, purposes. The first is to hook the reader, the second is to present the argument, and the not-always-necessary-third is to present a map to the reader, conveying the general flow of the paper. But wait, what ever happened to those roadblocks? Ah yes, it seems that through pre-writing they have disappeared or, to better describe it, we took a detour (the pre-write)! So where is the pain and agony?
For some, the pain comes from this pre-write. Usually, the gathering of ideas is not an easy task. Coming up with something to argue, and then evidence to support it does not happen at the snap of a finger. However, I tend to be very opinionated. It is rare that I can’t argue a point in a piece of writing, so I find the pre-write to be a piece of cake (most of the time). I just take my opinion and perspective, and translate it to a viable thesis. My struggles relate back to the topic sentences.
With one day gone, we move on to the body paragraphs, which of course start with topic sentences. It is here the aforementioned roadblocks show their faces. Even with the pre-write, I find myself drifting from the thesis and topic of the paragraph. I let my opinions and my mind get the best of me. For example, this essay! Notice how it sort of jumps around, and is not very analytical, more of a self-exploration piece. Regardless, it’s my essay and I’ll do what I please. Back to what I was saying, I get flowery with my writing, and drift off topic, which leads to an interesting paper (never dull to read), but one which may have strayed too far from it’s point to prove it. It is for this reason that my topic sentences need to be continuations of my thesis, they need to be to the point, and they need to be blunt. This way, it is easier to notice when I stay off topic when reviewing my work.
Ah the review, arguably the most painful part of writing. I find (and I feel this holds true for others) that once I complete something, I rarely want to look at it again. I just want to turn it in and be done. However, we all know this is a bad idea. So, I review my work. I read it aloud, and I have friends and family look over it. This way, I get fresh perspectives and fresh eyes to point out grammar and spelling errors, and to get comments on the flow and strength of the paper. It’s bloody agony. Nobody likes to get criticism, especially on something they felt they spent a long time on. We all know it’s useful, and only serves to improve our writing and our paper, but we still don’t like it. And this is what can lead to procrastination. If you don’t have the time to get a paper reviewed, you won’t. Thus saving you from your peer’s critical eyes.
Not just your peer’s eyes though, your instructors or your mentors, or whoever you are writing the paper for. You spend what seems like an eternity on a paper only to have it sent back to you full of red ink. Grammar, flow, spelling, things that don’t work, sentences that don’t fit, a thesis that does not argue the perspective, an opinion lost in the evidence, evidence saturation, not enough evidence, error after error after mistake after fragment, you feel like it never ends. And really, it doesn’t.
It doesn’t end, and here is where the real agony comes in. I need to write at least 3 drafts of an academic paper. Well, shoot, who has time for that? Who has time to be nit picking at every little thing that might be a little wrong in a paper? It stinks! Draft, after draft, after draft, al repeating those nit picky steps I mentioned in the above paragraph, over and over and over, all day and all night. It is truly my hell. I don’t care how good it makes my paper, by the 4th draft I feel like I’m going insane! And I’m sure that this plays true to not just me. There are only a few situations where you would not mind writing 4 or 5 drafts: if your getting paid lots of money, if you’re a up and coming novelists who wants to be paid a lot of money, or if you truly love to write. And I doubt all writers in those situations don’t mind drafting in other situations. For example, I doubt a novelist would enjoy drafting a literary analysis, or a non-fiction book.
But we do it, we draft until we reach a point where all that’s left are the minuscule decimal points. Once I (and I assume we) am (are) here I/we feel a great sense of relief, a sense of euphoria, a sense of accomplishment. Good feeling yeah? Yeah. But we don’t think about this end result when sit down to write. No, what we feel is dread. We dread the drafting, some of us dread the evidence, others the thesis, or having to argue a point when they don’t like to. We don’t see the end result; we see the time it takes to get there. And I discovered a long time ago (through my own experiences writing) that it is this pessimism that drives us to procrastinate, and to experience all the pain and agony of academic (and sometimes opinionated) writing. And yet it is so funny, I can write certain pieces without even a hint of agony or pain, but others are written with great disdain, and hatred, and procrastination and fear, and written while experiencing the full force of the pain and agony. It’s funny how the subject can make a 5 page paper either the easiest or the hardest thing in the world.

Friday, September 22, 2006


The thing about being here on the Westchester campus is that I'm surrounded by lots of others who are from the area. Many of them drive, and my classes have lots of commuting students. And of the students who do stay many of them have cars and can go home, or are close to other friends in the area (at least, the people in my immediate vicinity, not sure about the other floors/wings).
Now, I tend to be a little shy in these situations, and I tend be to selective about friends, and am having a hard time dropping some prejudice (I had images of my peers from orientation day 1, and it's not easy dropping them. Not to mention the fact, that many I have met only support my judgments....).
What this all boils down to is my rethinking of choices. I am sometimes really happy with Pace, there are certain classes that really make me happy, and the weather this time of year where I am is beautiful. Perfect. A little brisk, clear sky, or sometimes big puffy clouds, and clean air. I can go to the city (and have) and love it even more there. Then I start to wonder, if I went to the NYC campus, perhaps I could have entered a situation where I was with a more diverse group of people. And I'm not talking black and white, I mean where people are from.
Anyway, I'm here for the rest of the year, and perhaps I will decide to go down to NYC for next year. Who knows? We need to see what happens with this community.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Missing Class

Damit all!
Friday's I have an 8am CompSci (ready easy) class that meets once a week. I went to bed at around midnight for a 7am wake up call. Plenty of time.
At around 3:30 this morning my room mate calls my cell phone begging to be let into the building. Apparently he misplaced his keycard that unlocks the doors. He was(is) drunk, and had been waiting out there for 2 hours for someone to come by. I get up, find pants, and start to head down, when he calls again letting me know that via a storke of luck someone has come by. (I thought I was having a joke played on me, but no, he found his card this morning is a shirt that was on the floor (and has been for 2 days)). Anyway, I fall back asleep only to wake up to my alarm, shut it off and then not remember anything until 10:30a. So, here I am. I must have fallen back asleep and missed the best class of my week. Man this sucks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ze Frank once again hits the nail on the head.

The best description of college life ever. Period.

the show with zefrank

Oh, and Apple has a new iTunes version out that kick lots of ass.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Prius Cabs!

Dude! I saw this comming down 7th ave and I just had to take a shot of it! The quality sucks becasue it's from my Razr, but still a great sight to behold. There is a good high quality version of a Prius Cab on Flickr if you care to search. I'm thinkng about using it for my wallpaper :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The obligatory 9/11 post...

This is a seemingly mandatory post in the blogsphere so I thought I would express my opinions through Ze Frank.

the show with zefrank
Once again, Ze has artistically put into words what I simply can not type down. One thing to work on, expressing my opinion through the written word to make a powerful 1-2 combination argument.

Classes go well, I have a 6p-8p basic math class (stupid placement tests). Anyway, I'll be in touch.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

First Day of Classes

Defiantly less class than High school, but still, it seems like a lot. Mondays happen to be the worst of my schedule. Let me back up...

I signed up for Environment 110, an introduction to environment. Unfortunately...that class was cancelled. So now, I'm stuck in Philosophy 115. Hey, I don't really have a problem with this; the professor seems like a smart guy and defiantly has opinions. Not to mention, instead of a final we are going to have a debate. However, on Monday my schedule read as follows:
8a-10a: English 110
10:10a-11:05a: Environment 110

Now, the PHI115 replaces the ENV, however it's a two hour monday block, so I have 2, two-hour classes BACK TO BACK! Then only an hour before I go to another two-hour class! Ooohhh... Next semester I really need to try to give myself a full day of no class. For now my saving grace is the 8-10a Comp Sci class on Friday. That's my only class that day, although it gets out too late to catch the free NYC shuttle (I could take it down, but would need to Metro-North (train) it back up. It's possible, but I can't go for too many day trips. Would need to make a weekend out of it.
Let's see how the rest of my first week of classes go.