|October 14, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300, Writing|
Okay. Writing. 300 words every single day. Publicly. Writer shaming! It works for other things, yes?
I tried this idea, then abandoned it, and I’m trying to pick it up again because A) I need the discipline and B) I need to learn to be less afraid of sharing my thoughts honestly. My favorite people, the people who I look up to the most, do so with beauty and integrity. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull off anything other than “potentially interesting rambling,” but I will do what I can. I’ve abandoned any structure for this self-imposed assignment save that I must record a thought each day using at least 300 words. Here’s one:
Last Thursday I went to a bar with one of my best friends. I was DD, so I had diet Coke and paid for his beer; he’d had the kind of week that warranted a friend buying you a beer (recently a line from Robin Sloan’s first novel made me think of us: “so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula”). We showed up late, the restaurant around the bar deserted, leaving only a sparsely populated aisle framed in dark, heavy wood and the requisite wall of bottles. We talked about his crappy week, my quest to learn how eye makeup is properly applied, the Nats (“How’re we doing?” I asked, and he was gleeful over that “we” coming from someone who’d sworn that she couldn’t possibly care about baseball), the attractive bartenders. It took me a long time to talk about God.
That’s a major theme of my life recently: taking a long time to get to God. Even sitting in a warm, comfortable bar with a man who I know shares all my opinions on faith and spirituality, in practice and politics, it was hard. Lately I’ve felt my faith slipping, I told him. I’ve been drifting away from God, and it sucks, and I hate it. I’m trying to figure out whether my reluctance to go back to my home church is laziness or being uncomfortable with the way churches treat queer people. I mean, my church is accepting. Sort of. Just not openly affirming.
He didn’t have answers for me. I wasn’t really expecting any. Part of the reason I haven’t been back is guilt–Presbyterian guilt is a thing. It’s more mundane and suburban than Catholic guilt, I think; less “your soul’s on the line,” more really awkward conversations in Fellowship Hall and disappointed looks from the ladies on the Flower Committee. My friend said his faith is certain even outside of a faith community. I don’t know if it’s community I need, or reassurance, or just more structure. Maybe what I need more than anything is to find my faith outside of church. Maybe then I can come back with something concrete to offer a faith community, and the ability to accept whatever it can offer me.
|September 4, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work|
I initially wrote this post for the Games and Culture class blog taught by Dr. Zach Whalen at the University of Mary Washington. I wanted to archive it on my own blog as well, partially because this topic is so dear to my heart and partially because I want to revisit this piece soon, perhaps with some new conclusions.
A fellow classmate already tackled this topic, albeit in regards to race. I highly encourage you to read that post, and, depending on how angry you want to be today, the discussion that followed.
At the end of the day, there’s no arguing that the bulk of the gaming industry, just like any other industry, must be profitable in order to survive. That truism has been used for years to justify the narrow demographics represented within video games: video games have traditionally had excellent sales among straight white young cisgender men, so the majority of characters represented in games should, accordingly, be straight white young cisgender men. As anybody who isn’t actively living under a rock can tell you, the audience for video games as a medium is rapidly expanding (and was never all that narrow in the first place), but the demographics and kinds of stories represented within video games themselves are still lagging way behind.
While it would make some sense to assume that gaming companies might not want to produce a game with, say, a female protagonist out of fear that doing so might damage their earnings, it stands to reason that making more games appealing to a wider audience brings in more profits. I’m not suggesting that game companies should start marking to every categorical niche in existence, but when every conversation about diversity in games seems to conclude with “everybody’s playing something,” investing in more diverse video game casts seems like a rock-solid business decision. At this year’s Game Developers Conference, Microsoft narrative designer Tom Abernathy structured an entire talk around that point:
Abernathy also pointed to a study which said 56 percent of the US urban population plays games, compared to 47 percent of the rural population. Abernathy said with more rural areas of the country tending to be less diverse, the numbers would seem to shift the gamer audience even further away from the idea of an average gamer being a straight white male.
“Our industry, our art, and our business stand to gain in every sense simply by holding a mirror up to our audience and reflecting their diversity in what we produce,” Abernathy said.
|August 23, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings|
This has more or less been my life to date, both literally and digitally (yes, even the crazy bit where you freefall out of your house and into the sky. Some days have felt like that, anyway).
I’m coming up on the end of my internship at NANO Fiction (though not the end of my relationship with the journal; more on that front in September!) and despite nearly defenestrating my laptop several times thanks to the absurdity that is Adobe InDesign, I completed all four of the ebooks I was assigned with time to spare. It’s kind of crazy to know that a digital product I created (or packaged, at any rate) will be sold for actual money to actual people. Soon there will be sentient beings electing to dump their very own hard-earned cash on a thing that wouldn’t exist without me! Wild. Considering I’d never worked with InDeisgn before starting this project I think I can consider my “Summer of Awesome” goal thoroughly met.
The awesomeness in that arena came at the cost of maintaining my blog and participating in the DS106 Zone, true, but in the months to come I’m going to work with this space more. I’m starting my job search in earnest now, which should give me oodles to write about, and my research paper WILL end up on this site. Soon. Soon.
Writing in general is a thing that needs to happen more. I tried to motivate myself with the Daily 300 idea, but realized that much of my creative writing is on subjects that I’d mostly rather keep to myself (one of the pitfalls of throwing yourself into creative nonfiction). I’m learning to navigate the weirdnesses of community, privacy, and ownership as they relate to writing, both online and in meatspace, which is a tangle worth writing about all on its own. I’m glad, though, that I’m being pushed to write in genres that are easier to share publicly because of those intersections; that kind of growth is always a good thing. I may even start writing commentaries on stuff over here (currently dominating my brain: Welcome to Night Vale, Attack on Titan and Bioshock Infinite. HOLY CRAP YOU GUYS THAT GAME IS DENSE).
So. I’ve got a paying job to find, a literary journal to grow into and a research paper to edit. I need to dedicate myself to writing every day. “Develop a studio practice,” as Asa Gable said. Cool beans. Let’s get started.
|May 14, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings|
Image courtesy of puuikibeach
That’s more or less what my room looks like right now (sans awesome pirate flag). I’m trying to get all of the crap I’ve collected over the past decade or so sorted out, donated, tossed if it’s past the point of usefulness to anyone in any way, and setting up my room such that I might actually be able to think in here.
Oh, and I guess it’s pertinent to mention that I graduated a couple days ago.
I don’t really know what to say or think about that last point. It’s not hyperbole to say that I’ve been reaching toward this moment for most of my life—I remember playing make-believe games when I was maybe six or seven about going off to college. I knew that I wanted to apply to UVA and the University of Michigan by the time I was seven or eight (I didn’t end up applying to either school for undergrad, but who knows?). There were more than a few moments between high school and here when I thought I’d never get to graduation, which makes this whole thing seem all the more surreal, but I made it, thanks in large part to a group of the best professors and family and friends the world has ever known. Beyond that, I came out of my final year with a completed independent research project (I’ll write a wrap-up post on that soon!), three creative writing portfolios, and a lit journal that I’m awfully proud of. I think I can call that a success. : )
So what’s next? My long-long-long term goal is grad school, where I’ll hopefully end up hybridizing my love of creative writing and my fascination with all things digital. Right now I’ve got to do research for that, as well as find a job so I’m not thoroughly broke within within the next month or two, though I already scored an incredible internship at NANO Fiction! This summer I’ll also be dabbling in The DS106 Zone when I have time—from where I’m sitting it looks like it’s going to be one of the best summer sessions yet, and I’m stoked for what the crazy masterminds behind the class will roll out for us.
As far as this blog is concerned, I’ll continue to update when I can and post about what’s lined up for this summer (hopefully: writing, sending writing off for publication, continuing to reorganize my room, a little travel, getting in shape). Sooner than later I’d like to post a wrap-up reflection about the research project I completed on ds106 and digital education, and once I get the paper revised I’ll probably end up hosting it here for all to see.
I’m also going to be ditching the Daily 300 challenge I set for myself, at least in a public way. I’ll still try to write that much, but I’ve learned that to write something meaningful every day often means writing on subjects I’m not ready to share right away, and that’s okay. I do want to focus on creative writing this summer, both because it’s the art I’ve finally settled on as mine and because I need to get a portfolio together for grad school applications. As the summer progresses I’ll see if I can find another way to keep myself publicly accountable for my creative output—maybe even through ds106.
So. Lots of cool things. Stay tuned!
|April 24, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300|
Today I attended the last class of my undergraduate career.
People cried. It was great. I brought snickerdoodles. Our professor sent us out the door with hugs and a list of books and a poem hand-picked for each student.
“What do we do now?” This from one of my classmates as we walk down the hall, voicing the big question, the thing we all hope we have an answer for after our professor’s heartfelt sendoff.
“I have a life!” I answer her, shouting into the stairwell, and it’s almost what I mean. The last four years have been life, of course, and what I mean is that now I start to live after this finish line. Or maybe what I mean is in the possessive I have, that now I know how to claim myself wholly, instead of in pieces.
Last semester a different professor told me that “bonfire” comes from “bone fire,” and I feel like that today. Out in the hallway I am laughing, helpless, in the same way that several other students cried. I want to cry; it would be cathartic and poignant, but I have cried so much in the last four years. Instead I have this dry laugh, instead my marrow feels like kindling or coals, and I want so much. I want the poetry MFA that I’ve decided I’ll work toward, I want the internship I landed at a lit journal this summer, I want my words to mean something to other people, I want to write stories only for myself. One of my classmates pointed out that contradiction during our last class; I had talked about how freeing it is to sometimes write solely for your own enjoyment, and later said that what we write is bigger than we are, lasts longer than we can.
Another student quoted Whitman in my defense, but I don’t feel like I contain multitudes. I contain only the scope of my self and, I suppose like Whitman after all, I have always been made of contradictions. I cherish the etymology of bonfires and last week I had a green vine tattooed down the dip of my back, an image vulnerable to flames. The philodendron that inspired the tattoo is real, a plant stubborn enough to live after years in my clumsy care. It’s the focus of a piece I wrote for this final class, the first creative nonfiction essay I ever completed with pride. The essay begins the work of resolving trauma I lived through at the beginning of this, in freshman year.
What do I do now? I keep going. I find the work that calls to me and I do that work. I live as the strange, singular, and contradictory person that I am. I write it down.
|April 15, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Before I get into the bulk of this post, a minor update: I’m going to be presenting this project at UMW’s Kemp Symposium, which is in actuality kind of a big deal. I’m not sure how I’m going to present the project yet or what kind of resources I’ll have at my disposal (i.e. a screen, or just a podium) but it’ll come out to a 15 minute overview of my research. I am both super excited and quite nervous, but what else is new?
Back to the actual project, I’ve recently realized that the idea of “liberal arts education” is a far more complex concept than I had assumed. I’d always taken it at face value: “liberal arts” refers primarily to the humanities, and therefore a “liberal arts education” has a similar focus. Turns out I was working under a painfully narrow assumption of what the liberal arts really are. Since the phrase crops up quite frequently in discussions of open online education, though, I finally asked Dr. Whalen what exactly all of these researchers and teachers and scholars mean by “liberal arts.” He informed me that there is (surprise surprise) an entire mindset and tradition informing the concept behind it. This week on “Haley’s Mind Is Blown,” I’m going explore those definitions, and look into how that informs my research overall.
This post probably won’t mean a great deal to anyone who’s immersed in teaching or administration at a liberal arts college (or anyone who didn’t utterly miss the memo about this) but it strikes me that I might not be the only student who isn’t 100% clear on this definition. I’m mostly attacking this for my own benefit, though.
|April 9, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under College Work, Emerging Pedagogies in Edtech|
Martin Weller’s The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice has finally come up on my to-read list, and I’ve realized that I probably should have started with this book in the first place. Because Weller and Jim Groom share a lot of the same ideas on how digital and open education should operate, Digital Scholar does a great job of illustrating the ethos behind ds106, which Jim Groom was instrumental in founding (Weller actually mentions Groom in his Acknowledgements). While his work relates specifically to how teachers and scholars are interacting with digital tools and how they might approach digital pedagogy, his work is highly accessible and relevant to anyone interested in how digital media applies to education, including your very own intrepid student. Digital Scholar is more or less an overview of the ethos behind ds106, so I’m excited to explore how it’ll inform my final paper.
|April 3, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Daily 300|
And metaphorically the heart is where all the best words come from.
If you don’t exercise your muscles, they’ll atrophy. This is a truism of writing as well: to write, you must write. Bam, simple. Except apparently if you’re me, and you’re one of those kinds of perfectionists, and the idea of writing something with even a hint of substance on a daily basis feels a bit like being asked to run a marathon on zero training.
There are reasons I’m afraid of making a commitment to Writing, and that about sums them up.
But I have this whole vast website that I get to cultivate, to curate, and if it’s going to survive after graduation (maybe if I’m going to survive after graduation) there needs to be more of me here. I need a reason to keep myself writing even when, as Emma Rathbone said, I’m not inspired.
In the spirit of doing things I don’t want to do that are ultimately good for me, I’m going to write at least 300 words every weekday, and if I feel comfortable doing so I’ll post them here. I might fail spectacularly at this, but then every morning I run the risk of failing spectacularly to get out of bed and put my pants on (it’s happened before. More than once). What I write won’t be polished, it might be fiction or nonfiction, but I’ll strive to make it interesting. I want to hone my skills at crafting narrative, because everything is a story and stories are what I have always, always wanted to make thrive.
I’ve started running too, every now and then. So either I’m off-the-rails crazy, or I’m finally approaching something like health. I’m not sure if it’s hilarious or kind of weird that I can’t tell.
300 words isn’t much, but it’s enough to tell a story. This one should be the first of many.
|April 1, 2013||Posted by aetherbunny under Personal Ramblings, Writing|
In an effort to make this blog an actual thing that actual humans (and the occasional small rodent) might enjoy reading, I’m going to stick a few personal posts here. Hopefully that will also make it easier to transition it back to ds106 work and whatever else I want to do with this space post-graduation.
Last week I attended the annual Sweet Briar Creative Writing Conference, a four-day event for undergraduate creative writers who’ve been nominated by the faculty of their respective schools. My poetry workshop was headed by Leah Naomi Green, the conference was organized by John Casteen, and I was introduced to the poetry, prose, and nonfiction of some amazing contemporary authors (if you aren’t reading Dave Lucas’ poetry, by the way, you are missing out on some astounding work). The good: after being immersed in brilliant creative writing and keeping the company of amazing writers for four days, I felt like the writing thing, maybe even the teaching-of-writing thing, was a real possibility for my life. The bad: where does that leave all of my work with new media?