“Have any of you been in a spotlight before?”
That was the first thing I wrote on this website, back at the beginning of the semester. It was the first post I published to this site, and I felt crushed by the pressure of pressing PUBLISH, and allowing whatever I wrote to appear in several strangers’ inboxes. I felt as if it had to be perfect, before quickly realizing that if you seek perfection in a first attempt, then you won’t get a single word down. The fear of the spotlight has faded now, and it’s time for the curtain call.
As the semester began, I recall curiosity. I was so curious as to what my final result would be, what kinds of creations would come from the path that Professor Morgen set out for us. Due to that anticipation, it was an exciting event to put together my final Sunday Sketch and observe it all in one place.
I’ve come to realize that my writing process, for better or worse, is an admitted mess. When I sit down, I’ll have a couple of ideas, but most of the time I’ll be clueless as to what the next sentence be after the one I am writing. It’s a lot of working with what I’ve got and piecing the parts together in whatever way I can try to sense of it all.
Both by hand and through my iPad, not to mention my on computer, I’ve had sad texts, and analytical essays, and fun little sketches, and incredible rants. This class was all about experimentation and risks. We were given a faint outline to follow, but even then we could blur the lines if we felt justified to do so. It was a space to make mistakes, and most importantly, learn from them, and see what can happen when we let go of what we think we’re expected to do and see what can come of ourselves outside of these arbitrary limits that are set up for us in writing so early on.
After our restraints are effectively shattered to unrecognizable pieces, and we’ve learned to think outside the box, we can then employ our newfound strategies to different areas. Like in the assemblies drawing, we then reign in the madness, and as I said in my reflection after finishing my Literacy Narrative,
“Revision is that little responsible corner in the back of your mind that’s shaking its head as you create nonsense and have a blast… and then forces you to look back and consider how much of this exciting journey is actually going to be exciting to read instead of write.”
While breaking down the predestined barriers in writing allows us to try things we otherwise would have never risked, revising our work helps bring order to a good idea and make it something worth reading. Due to my inexperience in writing for others, revision was an undoubtedly new concept to me, and it is an ability I have gained through practice and a lot of patience. Many of the assignments on this site may have more than one version, usually a draft or revision, and several have reflections, so that we may, as Professor Morgen tells us, be conscious of what we have learned so we retain the lesson. The process is just as important as the end result, you can see my Literacy Narrative evolve from a previously forgotten memory to a cohesive comic, to a final polished narrative, each version providing accumulated support for the next. Even some sketches, such as Heart of Gold, include detailed descriptions of the bumps and missteps along the way to the finished product. False starts and failed ideas pave the way for a more wholesome view of the writer behind the images and words that pop onto the webpage.
At the end of the day, writing, as I say often in my reflections and essays, is a conversation between the reader and writer, it’s a joint effort of attributing meaning to ink and paper and glowing screens.
In fact, a lot of writing is more of a social activity than we realize. Argumentative essays such as Inside Trauma, a comparison between two graphic memoirs through the scope of a Hillary Chute essay, take bits of others’ ideas, analyze them, comprehend and interpret them, and then allow the writer to bring out their own ideas with the help and support of others’ claims. Nowhere was the social element of writing more evident than in this class, where operating on a digital platform came as a stealthy bonus, we often were so focused on the visual and trauma elements of the class that we didn’t pay too much attention to the fact that we were unwittingly learning how to create our own website, comfortably navigate Word Press, and make our sites sleeker, more effective, and closer to our initial visions.
Moreover, the abilities developed this semester; close reading, pattern recognition, visual thinking, visual writing, analysis, argumentation through scholarly inquiry, and so on; are widely applicable, and to a college student especially. This declaration is easy to state, however I’ve already had several occasions where they’ve come in handy. While there are several essays, poetry annotations, and presentations to draw from, my favorite example is that of a research paper I had to complete for my Sociology class this semester.
The writing of a research paper seems about as far from this class’s writing as possible, with its cold, strict, and emotionless nature, yet confronting the assignment while forgetting the initial rules (i.e. structure, expectations, scientific method) allowed me tackle it in an unexpected way. The assignment called for me to break a social norm and observe how society punished me for it, then document my results. Photography and filming was strictly prohibited to avoid any complications with spectators, but this instantly put a dampener in my plans to include a visual element to the paper. After experiencing the event (where I ate my dinner on the floor of the cafeteria), I was able to apply the strategy of searching for patterns by taking a far away look at the situation and was able to use this to draw my conclusions. Furthermore, it occurred to me that if I could not have a photo of my experience, I could very well draw it instead, including several of the fundamental elements that constituted the experiment as a successful analysis of society. These ideas ended up being a good move, and my grade proved it. The comments along the margins specifically pointed these out as good strategies which helped convey my message in both an entertaining and effective way.
To conclude my journey through The Secret Language of Sabrina, I thought I’d share the impact comic have had on me. I was undeniably devastated upon the realization that the
comic books we would be reading this semester were all tragic, yet the use of trauma allowed me to see the potential of comics not as a genre but as a medium, witnessing artists weaving the mood and theme of their comic into the beautiful dance of words and images ignited a passion and interest in the writer within me that could not be quenched until I gave it a try of my own. Every end is a beginning, and the conclusion of this class leads to the birth of a new option for me was a writer and artist to explore.
I was curious at the beginning of this journey, of what this ending would look like. Yet I think the journey here, having fun with each stepping stone, each mistake, was the most valuable component to take away from it all. So here lies the archive of my time here, the footsteps left behind by a stumbling stranger. I encourage you to dig through it, in no particular order, and hopefully there is something in there that you can learn from too.