Thursday, April 2, 2015

Week Twelve: "The Invisible Illnesses" Analysis

When writing about mental illness, I wanted to be sure to utilize logos through facts and statistics. I wanted the reader to see the facts about mental illness in order to believe them and see my point. The facts I found were from the NAMI website, which had all kinds of statistics, but I only used one prevalent fact. I didn't want the bulk of my argument to be just facts.

With that being said, I utilized a lot of ethos and pathos. I tied in stories from my life that the reader could either understand or empathize with. Talking about my ninth grade experience and then my own mental illness both created credibility for the subject, but also evoked the pathos of the reader. I let these take lead with my argument because it is first hand experience that really makes me close to the issue of mental illness awareness.

I wanted to use all three persuasive strategies because I think they work together nicely to help solidify my stance and create a thought provoking idea that could lead to reader action. I think that with a topic like mental illness, it is important to engage the reader with all three strategies because they all create a balance of fact, credibility, and emotional stimulation-- with the emotional stimulation the most important because it allows readers to connect on a higher level.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Week Eleven: The Science of Persuasion

The video "The Science of Persuasion" covers six essential elements to persuade readers. Among the six, I found that three-- authority, liking, and consensus-- are very relevant to persuasive blogging.

Authority plays upon the author having credible knowledge of their subject in order to write about it successfully. This is essential to blogging because the basic fundamentals of persuading an audience successfully is knowing the subject and having the authority to gain the trust of the readers. In blogging, this goes hand-in-hand with building a persona.

Liking involves the reader more. They have to develop a liking to the writer and to the subject. Liking is successful when the readers can connect to someone similar to them, when someone compliments them, and when there is cooperation between subject, reader, and author. In blogging, the readers must be attracted to the subject and to the argument in order to be persuaded at all.

Consensus involves someone looking to the actions of others in order to decide what their own action will be be. In blogging, a reader can look at the comments of other and the interaction of the author to see how other interpreted the argument. If they agree with the majority, they can most likely be persuaded easily.

I think that the most important of the three is authority because it is a building block that the others can build off of, but without it, the argument can crumble. All of the elements, though, are contributing factors that build a strong plan to persuade.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week Ten: This One's Personal

The Introduction of the The Art of Influence brings up many thought provoking ideas about persuasive writing. It reveals that the personal essay "should certainly be celebrated, because it is one of the most approachable and diverting types of literature we possess." The essays are intimate and personable, with self-revealing style, humor, and grace. Personal essays allow the writer to explore topics in a close, desirable, and freeing way. The introductions says, "the personal essay has an open form and a drive toward candor and self-disclosure."

The Art of Influence discusses "the conversational element" of personal essays as having a close relationship to dialogue, which brings a duality, or conversation, to the writing. This conversational element is very important, in my opinion because it not only brings readability to the piece, but it allows it to be casual, engaging, and relate-able to readers. In my own writing, I always try to be conversational rather than formal. I think formal writing can tip the balance of being too scholarly, which leads to distractions and complications within the writing that takes away from the point of the piece. A conversation can engage a reader more than a speech can. If one wants to persuade, a dialogue that is both engaging and casual, will bring dynamics to the writing and open the reader to influence and persuasion.

With personal writing comes "the problem of egotism" or the question of whether or not to use "I" in an essay. Some argue that it is acceptable to remind the readers that what they are reading is in the first person. Others say that the use of "I" is bad for the ego and that a certain sort of guilt creeps into the writer for it's usage. In personal writing, I think that the use of "I" is inevitable. I think it helps to deliver certain ideas to the readers, especially if one is telling something from their own point of view. It shouldn't be overused or tired out in a piece, but I think it adds more than it takes away. It's as if I were to argue my perspective in an essay, it would be I who would remind you of my opinion in order to try to influence your perspective.

"Questions of form and style" go back to the casual feel that a persuasive essay should carry. The Art of Influence says that form and style are flexible, that "it possesses the freedom to move anywhere, in all directions." Free form and style gives the writer the choice of how to set up their essay and how to link ideas in order to influence the reader. In my own writing, having that freedom allows me to explore an array of things with out feeling pressured to conform to anything formal. This way, I can write what feels right.

The Art of Influence says that, "At the core of the personal essay is the supposition that there is a certain unity to the human experience." I think this is quite true, especially when looking at essays and the different, yet similar, ways we approach them.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Week Six: Objectives & Goals

Sometimes you can never understand people's pain and why they do what they do. And other times, even years later, you understand completely. It's terrifying. Sometimes the barriers we put up block others out and other times they block ourselves out.

I've been debating all week about which memoir idea I want to explore the most. I'm choosing to write about my recent experience with depression that allowed me to understand it in a way that my fourteen-year-old self didn't. I want to talk about my realization and how it affected my way of  thinking, especially in consideration to the way I handled my close friend's revelation of depression and suicide back in ninth grade. I picked this particular topic because I think that I have the ability to explore a range of emotions and a shift in perspective in life.

From writing about this, I hope to come to terms with my realization. I want to further explore what it means to see a situation differently and to understand it, even years later. I want to capture the uplifting and freeing feeling of finally being able to see past something that affected my life and friendships to much-- back in ninth grade and now in the present. Since the two parts of my life intertwine so much, I want them to be told so that parallels and understandings can be drawn between them.

I want readers to be able to look at mental illness in a more open-minded way. Specifically, from my story, I want them to be able to look at people in their lives and their struggles with a different perspective. I'm hoping that people will see change and hope.

When writing this memoir, details I don't want to include are specifics about my friends and her struggles in ninth grade. Although she is important to the story, it's not her story. And it's not my place to tell her story. I also don't need to include what my life was like in ninth grade outside of that particular incident or my life between then and my realization. It's not important to the ultimate goal of my story.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Week Five: It's Not Really About Me

When thinking of memoir ideas, I was put at a complete standstill. I had a hard time trying to decide what something in my life was that was worth telling and that would be a learning experience. I had to really look at my life and set apart some important, yet unique, parts of me.

Idea One: The Cat Story. I've already written a shot post about "The Cat Story," but there is so much more to it. In a little over one year, my family fostered and took care of twenty-two cats-- thirteen of which started off as kittens. Training and raising cats is a world of its own and the experience changed our dynamic as a family.
Cathartic Statement: Raising a fleet of homeless kittens is difficult, but when your family has your back, it's just a little bit easier, if not more chaotic. And when you have to rely on those family members, it brings you just a little bit closer together.

Idea Two: A Friend. In ninth grade, I learned that one of my best friend tried to kill herself. At fourteen, I couldn't understand what any of it meant. I could never fathom what depression was like for her. Now, years later as my life is further affected by depression, I'm starting to realize what she went through. I'm starting to look at our friendship and how her admittance of a suicide attempt changed it.
Cathartic Statement: Sometimes you can never understand people's pain and why they do what they do. And other times, even years later, you understand the pain completely. It's terrifying. Sometimes the barriers we put up block other out and other times they block ourselves out.

Idea Three: Baldwin Kids. I teach creative writing at a community center in Pontiac, called the Baldwin Center. Teaching there has been such a learning experience for myself. I work with little girls that are loving and intelligent, who just need mentors in their lives. Yet, they are the ones that tech me to be hopeful, creative, and carefree-- just I used to be when I was their age.
Cathartic Statement: Sometimes, just being a constant, reliable part of someone's life is enough to make a difference in their lives. Being in someone's life make it easier for that person to open up to you and to show their true selves. And when you see someone's true self, it can inspire you in many different ways-- especially when it means getting to feel like a kid again.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week Three: The Best Part

The word best friend is interesting.

If you look at it in a literal way, it implies that there is one friend that is better than the other friends-- the best of them all. If you think about it too much, it could almost have a negative connotation-- you have friends, but there's an underlying hierarchy. If you think of best friend in a more personal way, it can be a friend that you know the best. The friend that knows you the best. It implies closeness, confidentiality, trust, love.

But, I don't have a best friend.

I have a sister.

Sister is also an interesting word. It's complex. Everyone knows what a sister is, even if they don't have one. Some people hear the word and it resonates negatively within-- sisters and families can be a hard subject. For others, sister springs happy thoughts-- joy and love.

To me, my sister is my best friend-- but she's not.

To me, sister is a stronger word. It packs a bigger punch than best friend. Yes, she's my friend. But, no, she's not a friend-- she's my sister. She's someone closer to me than any friend could be. She's my only sister, and I her's. There's a bond deeper than just friend.

My sister and I have the ability to finish each other's sentences-- we're on the same wave-length. I can tell what she's thinking just by sharing a look. Our brothers tell us that we look like we hold entire conversations without even moving our lips. And its probably true. I can bare my soul to her, then be laughing about something stupid the next.

She hasn't only been there for every moment of my life, but she's experienced them with me. She's there through the storm and there to dance in the puddles.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Week Three: Enchanted

If there's one thing I could talk about forever, it would be books. I could spend hours, days, and months talking about my favorites, my disappointments, and the one that made me cry long after the final page was turned. For as long as I can remember, reading has always been a big part of my life, so it's only fitting that books are held in such high esteem in my eyes. I even work at a library, surrounded all day by novels, which pile onto my never ending reading list.

There are a lot of books that I love. My favorite series is Harry Potter; my favorite classic is The Count of Monte Cristo; my favorite mysteries are Nancy Drew. I love mythology and comics. But, there is one book that beats out the rest, hands down. It is my absolute favorite-- one that I could read a thousand times and never tire of. It's called Ella Enchanted.

I was introduced to Ella by my sister. We listened to the audio book together and it just stuck. I was utterly enchanted by the re-telling of fairy tales and the timeless story of a heroic and admirable girl. It's a book that teaches the power of good and of love. It's inspiring and heartfelt.

Ella isn't just my favorite book because of the story or how it's written, though. I love the way it makes me feel. It makes me feel timeless, it makes me fall in love. It takes me back to those many years ago when I first heard the story-- it reminds me of my old house and the old purple walls of my room, it reminds me of cassette tapes that you had to fast forward or rewind. It reminds me that even though a lot has changed in my life, my love for that story has never wavered. And that makes me feel safe. And happy.

Long ago, I memorized the first couple pages of my favorite book. And whenever I had a particularly bad day, I would close my eyes and recite, "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift..."