A SmartWomen’s Year in Review: Writing Fail (Part III)

I caught my first episode of Netflix’s Nailed It! tonight, and this might either be the perfect metaphor for what I want to say this week, or the worst, so bear with me. In case you’re don’t know the show, the premise is pretty basic: think baking competition show with the worst amateur bakers possible. This isn’t The Great British Baking Show, where everyone’s doing these complex recipes that somehow come out at least decently, because everyone there knows what fondant is. No, this is the show with every single food-related Pinterest fail ever.

Continue reading “A SmartWomen’s Year in Review: Writing Fail (Part III)”

The (somewhat uncomfortable) Process of Digital Storytelling & Teachable Moments

This post is Part 2 of a series on the Mellon Institute of Public and Digital Humanities. A special thanks to Allison Myers, Ryan Trauman, and Marie Lovejoy at the Story Center. For part 1, please click here.

I didn’t know anything about digital storytelling  when I walked into the Story Center’s workshop as part of the Mellon Institute of Digital and Public Humanities. I thought it was maybe something like an audiobook, or a video of me, telling a story. No big deal, I thought. As a historian, I pretty much write and tell stories for a living.

But then the story specialists at the Story Center taught the other institute participants and I *how* to write a script for digital storytelling, and I began eyeing the door. Not because it was too big or difficult, but because it was so small and succinct. How was I going to tell a full story worth hearing in fewer than 250 words? I’ve probably written longer sentences than that!

The other Mellon Institute participants struggled with this concept too, which I found very  encouraging in its own way. While it’s good to provide context and delve into a subject fully, verbosity often has the effect of hiding, instead of revealing an emotional truth. No one at the institute was going to breeze through this workshop, and if they were going to be brave and bare their souls, then so could I.
Continue reading “The (somewhat uncomfortable) Process of Digital Storytelling & Teachable Moments”

To Learn the Trick*

 

I’ve spent most of my life with Ray Power of WordsBradbury’s voice in my head, as told by my dad.** Years ago, my Dad met the author, who told him “Write 500 words every day.” It’s part of that short-story-a-week idea he’s better known for – at that pace, you’ll have a short story in a week.

I hear the 500-word mantra in my head nearly every day; it’s following the rule that’s been most difficult outside of graduate school. Then, 500 words a day was easy. All I had was time to read and write. Not any more. In the past five years, I can show you every excuse in the book about why I never wrote. At first, it just wasn’t a priority. I was intellectually exhausted after six years of graduate school and the emotional challenges of the job market. Switching gears to high school teaching brought new challenges, mostly in relation to time. My days became more structured; my nights (and weekends) full of grading and lesson plans and just getting through that first year. Pregnancy and motherhood in the second year and after shifted my life in ways I had sort of imagined, but couldn’t fully prepare for. Continue reading “To Learn the Trick*”