Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Digital Portfolio

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Since Digital Storytelling ended two weeks ago, I’ve been building my online portfolio. It’s still a work in progress. I plan to incorporate my resume, along with a few other clips and project snippets, and want to tweak the theme a little using Firebug to help me understand how to manipulate CSS.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

I have two text widgets on each page-an about box and internship experience sidebar. I may change these once I figure out how I want to incorporate my resume, but for now this will work. I created a blog post that links to each section of my portfolio with a brief description.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

Each page links to my work around the web.

Portfolio Megan Eichenberg

The special projects section includes links to Aisle 2 Bin 36 and Apropos Literary Journal.

I’m still looking into other themes and might change to one with a featured post slider. I also want to incorporate some of the work I completed in Digital Storytelling and a few other classes somehow.

Site Link

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

My digital storytelling project is now live. I’ll have a more in-depth blog about it and my process soon.

“Write” On Track

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Over Thanksgiving break, I continued with the writing process of my project. With so much material to work with, I went through my typed notes and began highlighting portions from our interviews I knew I wanted to pull direct quotes from or focus on in my article. Red text areas are places I want to summarize an anecdote. Some of the areas where I left text black are points where I’ve asked Andy’s husband, Jon, a related question and want to wait to begin incorporating the details into the article until I’ve heard back from him by e-mail later this week.

Yesterday, I wrote about 1,021 words of the article, words that didn’t come easy. I am thrilled by this project: I love to write,  I love to work with WordPress and other digital storytelling tools and I take very seriously the fact that there’s a family that  is allowing me and trusts me to share their story. I want this project to be successful, not just in terms of being executed well, but also in terms of reflecting the larger theme of how a deployment affects a family.

I used to have one of those daily calendars where you rip a sheet off each day. It featured quotes, some humorous, some sad and some just stupid. Recently, I discovered one of the ten or so sheets I saved from the 365 page calendar:

I don’t mean to contradict myself. I really do love to write. I wouldn’t want to be pursuing any other career. But sometimes, with that comes an immense pressure I place on myself to constantly improve at the craft. I don’t have this feeling with anything else. When I’m not writing, I miss it.

Writing doesn’t always create happiness, but the tricky emotion that is sparked is exhilarating to me. I don’t always produce the type of piece I envisioned. Sometimes I struggle to find the right words, the right lead, the right conclusion. In a weird way, I thrive on this conflict as I work on certain types of stories and attempt to succeed in doing the subject justice. Sometimes, after a story has been published, I feel like I’ve failed in that-and then try to do better with my next article. I know I still have a lot to learn, and I’m excited by that. I don’t fear I’ll fail in my presentation of this story. I’ve invested a lot of time in it, will continue doing that this week until it’s finished, and am confident I’ll present the digital story well. Getting to that place, being able to write that, to say that-has been a process I’ve enjoyed and look forward to doing more of throughout my career.

Immersing myself in this project over the past eight weeks has been a great learning experience for me and an opportunity to consider what directions I’m capable of taking in the realm of digital storytelling. Like the quote pictured above implies, the route I chose to go with this project in terms of my writing hasn’t always been “happy,” but I enjoy the struggle. At times these past few weeks, I’ve struggled to be content with the words I make appear on the screen. I write, I delete, I rewrite, I revise. But, as I near completion on my project, that process has resulted in exactly the type of irresistible, conflicted feeling that pushes me to keep doing what I love.

Route 1 Reflections

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Four days a week I have a 20-30 minute commute to school, and lately my drive on the traffic plagued Route 1 has been dominated by thoughts of my digital story. In Sunday’s post, “Digital Storytelling Tools Breakdown” I had the below quote to say about my writing process, and I want to expand on it a bit more:

“Unless it’s a very foreign topic to me, I’m not the type of writer who outlines an article or paper. Typically, when I sit down with my computer, I find the detail or part of an anecdote in my notes that interests me the most and start from that point, adding the remaining facts above and below it until the story feels complete. I’ll probably stick with this technique for this project, as everything usually “falls into place” with this method for me.”

While I normally don’t outline an article in the sense of creating a document or marking up a piece of paper that summarizes the points I want to include, I do spend a lot of time thinking about the story.

Over the past year, my boss has given me several pieces of great advice that urge me to improve as a writer. One of the tips she recently shared that aligns with what I mentioned about my process and seems to work best with feature stories is immediately after an interview, write down the point(s) you remember the most, without looking at your notes. Often, you may find this is the most interesting or engaging aspect of the story, and it can potentially give you a starting point.

I didn’t return home after my two interviews with Andy and write down the points that stuck out most to me, but as I’ve thought about the anecdotes she’s shared so far, there are a few things she mentioned I keep returning to that seem to speak the most loudly about her family’s military life experiences.

I’ve been repeatedly running her responses to my questions through my head, mentally arranging them into an order and considering how to transition from one point to the next. So, while I’m not planning on paper, I do have a general idea of how I want to present her family’s story in article form. My writing process doesn’t just entail finding that one detail and taking off from there when I sit down to write; rather, with the benefit of time and a flexible deadline, I begin putting the pieces of the story together in my head and take off from there when I’m ready to write.

Early Mechanics of a Digital Story

Monday, October 18th, 2010

After Jim Groom briefly mentioned our multi-week digital storytelling assignment during the first night of class, I spent my 20 minute drive home brainstorming a very rough plan for my project. We’d each just shared 30 second stories about how we spent our summer, and although I can’t remember the exact quote, a comment Groom made in response to my brief story inspired my large idea. I told the class I spent my summer as an intern with a nonprofit that provides support and entertainment services to U.S. military personnel. Groom made a remark regarding the stories people choose to share and withhold concerning their experiences with war, and his observation got me thinking about the angles from which I saw the media covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon arriving at my house, I grabbed the first sheets of paper I could find and sat at my table to transfer my thoughts from my head to a notepad-who would I talk with? What was my goal? How would we (the reporter and the source) tell these stories? These points became much more coherent when I wrote my project proposal. I also sketched a quick outline, at right, of how I envisioned the appearance of the story on the web: a magazine theme, with subject headings at the top of the page and a featured posts slideshow linking to different content: a text story, an audio slideshow, perhaps a video.

In the weeks leading up to our proposal due date, I began amassing all off my resources in one corner of my desk, at left. My background research about the wars-news articles, maps, images-went into a binder. I posted my original project notes, penned on the obnoxious celebratory stationary, on a bulletin board with other related memos. The lime post it note, “Subdomain” includes five points I’ve been considering for the website: Name, Theme, Stories, Audio and Images. While I’m still brainstorming names and browsing through magazine style themes (I’ll be blogging separately about these topics), I have been thinking about the story’s presentation.

Text, audio and images are three methods of storytelling I am certain I want to use, tools I think will have a significant impact in different ways on the audience of readers, listeners and viewers. My source, (I know that term is rather impersonal; I’ll be doing an introductory post about her soon) is not only willing to share anecdotes about her experiences with a family member deployed to Afghanistan, she’s also a very engaging, open, storyteller.

I’m a fan of “slice of life” feature articles, stories that depict exactly that: “slices,” or moments, of a person’s life, often in relation to a larger trend or idea. I’ll also be writing reconstruction pieces, documenting her family’s previous experiences with military life and deployments through writing. These are moments I didn’t observe, but can learn about by asking questions and looking at pictures, among other methods.

After being introduced to Audacity this semester, I’d like to incorporate audio into this project, most likely as one or two audio slideshows. The New York Times has some of my favorite examples of audio slideshows in their “One in 8 Million-New York Characters in Sound and Images” collection. As I mentioned before, I’m discovering how a story has the potential to become much more powerful and interesting when the element of the subject’s voice is part of the presentation. It creates a relationship between the subject and the audience that reading words on a page might not necessarily do to the same extent.

As I mentioned above, I’ll be blogging about the initial stages of my subdomain (name and theme) and introducing my source in a post later this week and into early next week.