(This was an extra credit piece that I found great pleasure in writing about)
On Wednesday May 14, 2014, Dr. Edlund told of a vey curious lecture that to be given to the students of the English Department. The lecturer Was Dr. Sarah Mesle, a faculty member at the UCLA English Department, a senior humanities editor and co-Editor of Avidly.org. She is also a contributor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her lecture topic was titled, “Why We Write, and Where: Academic and Online Writing in the 21st century.” This lecture was perfect for my class, because Dr. Edlund was focusing on online writing, as part of our curriculum. From previous knowledge, online writing is the new form of writing. It is fast, detailed, and very much needed in this age. Writing is a big form of communication on the internet, and most information can be found there. Writing on the internet is a form of expression, observation, scientific inquiry, in a sense.
That was what Dr. Mesle’s lecture, to me was all about. I very much enjoyed it, because not only was it insightful, but very useful to have in my personal arsenal of writing. She covered many topics, while engaging the students. Such included; Writing Styles and The Internet Today, Stylistic Analysis, What you Can Do With The Internet, The Different/Similarities between Traditional and Computerized Writing, and Skills and Suggestions. Many of her professional discoveries about online writing were very much accurate. You have to be very accurate with your information, on time, even earlier is better, inviting and concise, as well as clear, while also holding a sense of a pristine perception and perception on your social media tools, particularly personal ones, such as blogs.
At the end of her lecture, she asked us a couple questions. Why write in this current age? Where does our writing go? Where do we want it to go? Where can it go? The same questions she introduced for her presentation. Many of the students’ answers were informative, as well as the professors’ insights. After the lecture, when class ended, Dr. Edlund offered us a chance to write about the lecture, just like I’m doing now. But I decided to take it further. You see, Dr. Mesle’s presentation and questions to the class gave an idea that I found very useful the rest of the quarter. I turned her lecture and her questions into a mini-experiment for myself. The purpose was to observe and apply some techniques a s writer and student.
So, like Dr. Mesle asked us, Why write in this current age? Where does our writing go? Where do we want it to go? Where can it go?
For some time, I kept entries along with my commonplace entries. To sum up my experiment, I found it very insightful. I recorded my observations and reflection in a notebook. I focused not only answering these questions, but also some key aspects from her lecture as well, particularly time management and submission deadlines, while trying to alter and experiment with the appearances of my social media, particularly, my blog for class. I manipulated variables such as trying to further analyze my personal writing style and use what I was learning in my class. How long it took me to write. How I wrote. Why I wrote. What were my strengths and weaknesses. Other things I found out from my experiment is that appearance and presentation does play a big role to get a reader’s attention, and at the same time, content is truly important. I played with length of my papers, content, (which also challenged me as a writer and college student), as well as “artistic” ability.
Upon discovery, I found that it truly does help gain readers, and that you have to put in the work for it to be of great quality. I did have a sense of this, but I also found something else that was interesting. Writing for just the sake of writing, even if the content is interesting, or well-done, isn’t good enough. You have to have the passion and drive to be honest with your writing. This results in a sense of originality and courage. I could write a paper about a subject that is easy, with well-researched data, and correct format. But that is cold, has the potential to be boring, and impersonal. When I began to change some tactics, and to be honest with myself, to push myself out of my comfort zone, to use my blog more and study how writers online do it, I gained new abilities and opinions on online writing. I am now in love with the idea, and I feel powerful, creative, a true writer.
From this experiment, I was able to answer Dr. Mesle’s questions for myself. Why write in this current age? Because now, writing has become even more of a critical component to sharing information, while also finding the need to become an individual. Writing is such a powerful form of communication, and put that along with the speed and availability of the internet, the possibility seems very endless and powerful. After all, nothing is official until it’s in print! Where does our writing go? There was a logical answer—onto blogs, social media sites, along side our Instagram pictures and Twitter updates, our Facebook Statuses, and even on personal sights, like fan fiction sights, or discussion boards, such as Reddit or Buzzfeed. But what I found out for myself was that our writing goes to a place, but not what we might think. Our writing, the good, on time, and persuasive kind of writing, goes immediately to the screens of our viewers and readers, and later, becomes recycled though onto their sites and forms of communication. It goes to other media sites, where people can collaborate and discuss these writings. Where do we want it to go? I could have answered that questioned, but, like all things in life, sometimes we don’t get what we want. I would love it if my writing went to a popular site, or landed in the hands of a well-accomplished publishing house. Better yet, if it stayed on my site, untouched, but read and commented on. Sadly, the truth is, writing hardly stays in one place, whether it is moved by the original author, or by an interested reader. Writing is so real, yet it can simply be moved by the movement of one’s fingers and thoughts. Finally, where can it go? As an optimist, it can go anywhere. Anywhere you decide to put it and share it, or who ever has the ability to move it (without your consent–which can be bad thing sometimes). Though writing is published and put out there, it’s the internet. There is an unlimited amount of space, and it can land on any screen, any blog, any mind. Quiet beautiful don’t you think?
So what did I learn? I did learn some new skills and moral lessons from this experiment and my time in Dr. Edlund’s class. But more importantly, I learned about myself as a writer, how I improved so much from the beginning, and what it takes to really show if you’re passionate and dedicated to write. There is no right answer or sure way to gain success or popularity. But it does help to take advice from a professional. Trust me, it really does work, but you can tweak it a bit to fit your need and abilities. I did, and the results—so worth it.