Introduction of Work
“Writers and Authors…A Rose by any other Name?” has gone through many changes. In the beginning, it was originally supposed to be a research paper, then midway, it became an essay that I was supposed to post on my blog and, in the end, it turned out to be a compilation of my works printed in a chapbook.
In my previous blog post, I introduced my project in this manner:
““Writers and Authors…A Rose by any other Name?” is a collection of my written works, which is composed of an original story written in my own style that is then rewritten in the styles of three other authors. It is an attempt to compare and contrast the writing styles of classical or literary authors vis-à-vis the modern or popular writers. The chapbook is also a project of self-improvement and a means of finding my own voice.”
I was working around the project with the following problem statement: “Finding Forrester” – Are we gaining writers but losing authors? I initially came up with this idea because I believed that the popularity of the internet has given rise to a new breed of writers. Through the help of the internet, these writers were turning out a vast amount of work at an incredibly fast pace and some of those who have attracted a significant following have even been published. I wondered if being published in such a matter qualified them to be called “authors” in the same league as the more renowned ones.
I was originally going to attempt to define and differentiate between the traditional concept of what an author is and the growing breed of popular internet writers. When the project was still going to be a research paper, I was going to juxtapose acclaimed authors and their works against published internet writers. I was aiming to find out what made these people different and if one was necessarily better than the other. I wanted to know if we were gaining writers but losing authors or if we were gaining a new breed of authors.
In the process of gathering resource materials, I realized that a purely academic approach in a research paper may not be interesting to a wide range of audience. In order to keep my project fun and interesting, I did away with the research paper and planned that my project would be an essay instead. The topic of the essay would have been about myself and I was going to write it in my voice (writing style) and then rewrite it in the writing styles of other authors. My project was going to be a collection of essays that would be compiled to make a chapbook. Instead of directly answering the questions that I had for my research paper, the essays would have been my means of comparing and contrasting the writing styles of classical or literary authors vis-à-vis the more modern or popular writers.
After considering some suggestions from my classmates, I scrapped the idea of writing an essay and instead made the decision to use an excerpt from an original short story of mine which I would then “translate” into the different writing styles of different writers and authors. If the excerpts were read side by side, the different versions would (hopefully) be an effective way of showing the difference between “high literature” (works that are often constructed as serious or boring, which most people avoid) and popular literature (works that are normally written to appease and appeal to the masses).
Although the finished product is no longer what it was originally intended to be, I am glad that it had undergone a metamorphosis because it became so much more than what I had planned. I am happy that I was able to explore my writing style and experience working on writing like other authors. The project became much more fun that way. I encountered challenges that I would not have encountered if I had written a research paper (and might I say, these challenges were easier to overcome than any challenge I would have encountered in a serious paper). If I had to work on a research paper or an essay for an entire month, I would have surely gone crazy and would have lost the energy and passion to continue giving the project my best.
The original plan for my project was for it to be a research paper. This [the picture above] is the Mind Map that I created to, for lack of a better term, map out my ideas for the paper (duh). In the map, I wrote how I wanted to define what a writer was. This meant that I was going to look into the works of acclaimed authors and writers who do not follow the literary path set for “academic” writers. I was then going to compare and contrast “high” literature and “popular” literature as well as consider why there is a divide and if this [the divide] should be broken.
The reason why I was interested in researching on this topic was because of my course and my passion. As a Creative Writing Major, I wanted to know why these internet writers were being published and read. I wanted to look into what kind of literature is considered worthy to be published and the reasons why they are well-received by the public. If the kinds of books on the market nowadays are actually “good” or are just published because their plot lines are popular. I also wanted to figure out if being discovered on the internet was a bad thing or a legitimate means of becoming an author, i.e. if the writers found on websites like Wattpad were actually decent in their story telling.
As seen in the map, I was originally going to publish my research on my blog because it meant that people could easily access it and look into what I have found out. When I changed my project’s medium to a compilation of stories, I decided to record my ideas and drafts in a notebook.
Unfortunately, the notebook was of no use to me during my writing process. I had originally planned to bring this notebook with me wherever I went so that I could productively work on my project but, sadly, I could not effectively write my drafts down.
There were problems with writing my thoughts down on paper. One is that, when my creative mood is flowing, my hand cannot keep up with my thought process, and a lot of my ideas would be forgotten before I could coherently write them down. On the other hand, there were also times when it was incredibly difficult for me to jot down my ideas for the project because, in my head, my ideas weren’t even formed in coherent sentences. I would be thinking of a setting, a chunk of dialogue, and a plot, all at the same time but when I tried to write them all down, it turned out to be a mess.
The notes I took were, admittedly, forced. I took a lot of time trying to properly articulate my thoughts in the notebook and make it look like I was drafting something. The last page (third photo) is actually how I normally write my ideas down. They are just bits and pieces of ideas which may be connected (figuratively or literally with arrows) to the project or just disjointed notes for later consideration.
In the end, I opted to give up on the notebook and just type my works directly on my laptop. This was more in keeping with my writing style and turned out to be more efficient and easier to track and organize. Below, you could see my drafts for each version of the excerpt “Silver” (my original story). Instead of deleting my failed attempts, I just kept their files so that I could look back on them and maybe recycle ideas. I kept all my writings in one folder and distinguished them by their titles, i.e. 1st draft, 2nd draft, and so on.
One of my main struggles with my project was writing in the style of Jane Austen (I used her most popular work, Pride and Prejudice, as a guide). It was difficult to write in her “voice” because of the distance of time. When Jane Austen was still alive, there were no such things as air conditioners or laptops so when I wrote in her style (formal, sort of posh/polite dialogue), those words looked awkward and out of place.
The screenshots below is an example of a work that was in progress at that time. The red font indicates an attempt at a different writing style from the black font seen at the top of the document.
Another way that I handled my drafts was creating an entirely new document for my new writing. The photo below is my first attempt at writing “Silver.” The scene depicted is very different from what “Silver” ended up being (see second photo, “Final Draft”, or check out the entire chapbook posted in my previous blog).
When I finished my work, the next problem I encountered was creating the cover page for the chapbook. I am not adept in editing photographs or photoshopping so my first attempt in printing the chapbook failed. The cover page was made in Microsoft Word and I simply placed word art on top of the photo of my choosing. It was the best I could do at that time.
Unfortunately, when the lady in the printing office opened the word file, the format of the cover page changed. The word art stayed on the front page and the photo moved to the second page. Luckily (or so I thought), I exported the file as a PDF. What I didn’t know was that, for some reason, the page documents shrank. There is no other way that I could describe what happened in my first printing (see photos below.)
Fortunately, my friend offered to make me a new cover page (seen below) and when I exported my file as a PDF on her computer, the format was fine. I guess my Microsoft Word was just outdated or I am just really bad at technology.
I am happy to say that, despite the mishaps, I was able to finish my project and have it printed ahead of schedule. By the end of the month, I had 5 chapbooks, all ready to be read.
Evaluation of Process
This whole semester was, for the most part, interesting. I never expected to take an entire month off of class just to finish one project. In hindsight, I feel like if I really only had to work on this project, I would have been able to finish it in just a few weeks. Alas, life got in the way many times – life and other subjects.
The creation of my chapbook was very eye opening. For the longest time, I just wrote for the sake of writing. If I had an idea for a story, I would simply write it down. If I got tired of the idea, I would leave it alone to collect dust in my hard drive. This project forced me to stick to a story (albeit just an excerpt) and work on it until it was finished. It did not matter if I got sick and tired of describing the same scene or writing the same dialogue. I could not give up on my work.
My experience with working on my chapbook and being in FA 102 taught me that art took time, dedication, and patience, but sometimes, I did not have enough time and I had to work on my dedication and patience as well. It was difficult to get into the “zone” of writing and staying in that “zone” but you just have to suck it up and will yourself to get into the “zone.”
Although the purpose of my art was to bring light to “good” literature and writing, I ended up exploring and examining myself as well. I found out my strengths and weakness in writing. For example, one of my biggest weaknesses was visualizing the chapbook. In theory, I knew what I wanted to do but the execution was difficult for me. The process of thinking of what to write and how to go about writing it left me unproductive for days. It was only when I stopped worrying about what I was doing and started doing some work that I was able to get some things done.
Art reveals a lot about the person who created it. At least, mine did. My chapbook revealed the kind of literature I enjoyed reading and how I tended to write my stories. Because I spent so much time on the project, I became aware of what it was and if it succeeded in answering the problem that started the whole project.
My chapbook was my “baby” and like a mother, I wanted to protect it and believe that it was good. But as an artist, I knew that, although I was able to do what I had intended, i.e. discover my own writing style and imitate the writing styles of others, I do not think I was able to explicitly answer the problem I had raised in the beginning.
My project was able to show the differences between “high” and “popular” literature but it failed to directly answer if one was better than the other and if both kinds of literature can coexist with one another. I believe that the answers to those questions lie in my readers but, I do not think they would find the right answer either. I do not believe that there is a right answer at all.
Maybe this is because there is a difference between understanding art as a body of information and discovering it via practice and exhibition. In the course of studying it, we may analyze and understand it in an academic sense but we undergo an entirely different experience in the process of writing or creating the art. Furthermore, when you exhibit your creation, the reception of the audience may not always be the same as you intended in creating your art.
Now that my project is over and done with, I guess the next thing I should work on is figuring out what I should do next. I know that I want to continue writing stories so I believe that my next step is to keep on writing and actually stick to what I start.
This project forced me to work on one story and I think I should keep that mindset. I should continue keeping my drafts and work on making them better. I should visualize how my stories would look like when they are done because I never felt such accomplishment than when I saw my chapbook being printed.
Where do I want to go? Well, I do not think I should aim for anything else than up! I have always wanted to be an author and I should strive to keep that dream alive. I should not settle for less because I believe that my stories should be out for the public to read just as much as any best selling author.