Monday, February 25, 2008

T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais.

1. Congratulations! You wrote your first play. Reflect on your experiences here in paragraph form. Be sure to including explanation for your ideas. Write at least 75 words.

Whenever I have a writing assignment, everything from essays to poetry to this play, I always talk to my friends about every step of the process. I was talking to a friend about historical events to adapt into a play, and she came up with the idea to write about the Defenestration of Prague. I did some research, and began to craft the play. Something that my friends and I have been doing for a couple years now, as strange as it may seem, is to copy and paste troublesome sentences into a Google Chat window to have them help with phrasing and such. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to work out the issues. I actually had a lot of fun writing the play, and it was also a lot of fun to read what other people wrote. The topics of the different plays were all so different, and said a lot about each of the authors.

2. If you could give advice to a kid who was 5 years old or 10 years old (pick one), what advice would you give him or her on growing up in today's world? Would you give advice based upon your own experiences? Would you give advice based upon what you see in others? Would your advice be based on their thoughts, their choices, peer issues, school? Explain your advice and why you give it. Write at least 100 words.

If I could give advice to a kid who was 10 years old, in about fourth or fifth grade, I would probably be cliché and tell them not to worry about what other people think about them. Kids around that age start to become extremely self-conscious, and the media sends them all sorts of messages about the type of person they are "supposed" to be, how they are supposed to look, act, think, etc, and in reality it doesn't matter. I remember being that age, and how people that were my friends had suddenly changed, and were now into shopping instead of the craft projects we used to do together. Looking back, if no one cared about what others thought, everyone would just be themselves.

3. Great works of literature can last a long time. Jane Austen's novels (including Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility) are still popular almost 200 years after they were first published. Anne Bradstreet's poems have survived about 400 years. The works of Greek playwright Euripides (who wrote Medea) have survived for over 2000 years. What do you think causes great literary works to live forever? Could you ever foresee yourself writing something that lasts that long? (Write at least 75 words.)

I think that part of what makes great literature great is the universal themes that they discuss. As much as it pains me to say this, I think that part of the reason they live forever is because people can continually relate to the characters and ideas presented in the books, even if they are set in different time periods. However, I also think that there are some works of literature that live on just because people refuse to let them die, continually beating out new meaning. Conoisseurs of literature have invented countless ways of analyzing writing, everything from applying different lenses to pretending to find "implied" meaning in places that don't make sense, and as long as people keep finding ways to squeeze messages out of works of literature, they will never die.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I didn't get much sleep last night, so if this is incomprehensible, please forgive me...

1. How important is theme in what you write? Does a great piece of literature need to express an idea? Explain your thoughts on the matter using examples from things you've read. In your response, address the opposing viewpoint. (Write at least 100 words.)

I think that it is important for writing to express an idea or message, otherwise there was no point in the writing in the first place. However, I don't exactly agree that theme is as important as most English teachers seem to think. It reminds me of the Billy Collins poem about analyzing poetry, how it need not be beaten with a pipe in order to get meaning to fall out. I feel like most of the time finding a theme is a major task when it shouldn't have to be. One of the cool things I think about themes is that everyone can get something different out of the same novel/play/whatever. I can see why teachers believe that finding a universal theme in everything that we read is the most important thing we will ever do (besides learn how to write a 5-paragraph essay, get into college, and read every book in existence), but I honestly cannot figure out why they think we have to analyze every word to suck out as much meaning as possible.

2. What might be a theme that you'd consider communicating through your play. It could be a theme about something that concerns you (think back to what you wrote in your first blog), a theme about something you see socially or politically. It could be a theme about anything else. Write about that theme and why it is important to you? (Write at least 100 words).

I know that it seems cliché, that every girl that debates for Edina becomes very very feminist, but the direction the women's rights movement is taking in the US is bothering me. I know that guys wouldn't be so defensive about it if they knew it wasn't true. I am very interested in the math and science fields, and the lack of girls in the field can be very intimidating to some girls. I think that the school system does a terrible job of exposing everyone equally to every subject. Traditionally, girls are supposed to be interested in "proper" things like literature, fashion, cooking and sewing, etc., while the men are interested in less "proper" things (which I think are the most fun), like sports, video games, science experiments that explode, and trig proofs that take eight sheets of paper. Everyone is required to take electives in middle school, but most people by high school don't have any room for electives anymore. I bet that if students were required to take more technology and science related electives, instead of just a discouraging science course that includes more note-taking and theory than the amazing labs and demos, more women would pursue the field. In a play, I think the theme of a woman looking for rights/a place in the world has much potential.

3. What is one conflict you write about in your play. Generate some ideas for conflicts you could write about. This may or may not be connected to potential themes. (Write at least 75 words)

In keeping with the theme, I think one conflict I could include would be a person vs. society conflict. Having a strong woman who is looking to break free from society's traditions would fit the mold exactly. She could also be involved in a person vs. self conflict, because she has to decide to either do what she feels is right or conform to previously established standards. A feminist character lends herself easily to many types of conflicts.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Well.... here it goes.

1. Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out.

I've heard that you need to both breathe in and out in order to live, so I guess both reading and writing are crucial to keeping the art of the written word alive. A writer who only writes and never reads is going to just keep expelling, but will never take anything in. However, since breathing is a cycle, first out then in or the other way around, a writer who reads will then have more to write about. It's like playing the flute. If you don't take in enough air before you play, you may not get to the end of your run. If a writer doesn't read before attempting to write (or continue writing), then the result will not be as good as they would like.

2. Something in the world that concerns me...

Something that has been concerning me lately is the direction that women's rights movements are taking. Women's suffrage movements have been traced back to as early as the 1750s, and we weren't allowed to vote until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920. That's almost two hundred years of fighting! Women still have to fight for rights in the workplace, and on average are paid less than men in the same position. Debates about abortion seem to be taking place between men, and it's easy for them to talk about since they won't be the ones potentially going through it! So, what's been bothering me is the direction that the music industry has been going. Take for example the singer Fergie. I was totally mortified when I first heard her song "My Humps" at my dance studio. We were just innocently warming up to a mix that someone made, and I cannot believe that music like this is socially acceptable! For those of you that haven't heard it, her song basically talks about her "lady humps," her boobs and her butt, and how whenever she sees men they go crazy for it. Think about this, ladies... We have been fighting for hundreds of years to be treated fairly, and now big-shots like her as well as many other artists that I have heard make it OK to treat women as sex objects???? There is so much more to girls than how their bodies look, and I have yet to hear any hip-hop artist respect that.

3. What is one piece of art that has greatly inspired you?

Working at JoAnn fabrics, I constantly see art during my shifts, and am totally reinspired every single time someone asks me to cut fabric for them and tells me about what they are making. I know that usually people are inspired by really famous art, but the other day I asked my colleague why she quilts. This particular colleague has always kinda scared me, having worked in fabric retail for longer than I have been alive and knowing all the ins and outs of everything, but after having seen some of her quilts, in particular a huge paper-pieced masterpiece made of the brightest batiks you've ever seen, I was really inspired by her. When she was younger, her family didn't have very much money, so she had to sew her own clothes, starting at about age 7! As she grew up, she continued to sew, and quilted as a great stess relief. When her mother passed away, she made copies of her mother's quilts so that she and her siblings could all have one. I find it really inspiring that quilting helped her overcome the hardships of her past.