Last week I wrote about some of my ideas for projects going forward and my thoughts about storytelling and the final project in general.
In this post, I’ll be considering themes and ideas that others have discussed and expanding on my ideas from the previous post. It’s going to be a long post, so buckle in.
Part 1: Themes, Concepts, & Ideas
One of the most common themes I’ve seen throughout others’ posts has been the exploration of what’s important to us. There is so much depth to that one topic; so many facets are available to dive into and analyze. These are some of the quotes and posts that I thought engaged with that particularly well.
Professor Bond wrote this in our weekly assignment post for Week 10:
“As I mentioned during the ds106radio broadcasts, I like the idea of taking the my story concept beyond autobiography – where I’ve been and where I am – to larger ideas like where I want to go, what I care about and what is important to me.”
He added this quote from one of Jonah’s posts:
“I know this might be a little short but what I said back when this class first started really stuck with me. I want to talk about success and what it means to each of us. I want to talk about life and not getting caught up in the small problems. I want to talk about letting fears go and taking the first step, the first leap! There’s so much to life and there’s so much of this world that is left undiscovered because we are too afraid of what others will say or react and we let our fear put us in a cage and trap us from ever truly living and experiencing life. So that’s what I want to talk about. What we’re doing to be different, to inspire change, to motivate others and ourselves to get out there and live.”Story Time! ….Again
He also mentioned and quoted one of Cailyn’s posts. (This is a longer quote that includes the quote from the assignment post.)
“Throughout this semester, I’ve said how I like to tell my story through how those around me impact my life. When reflecting on how I could make my story something more…I think I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, everyone who I have wrote about are still a major part in my story. They still have had a huge impact on my life. I just think that now, I like to tell it by showing how my life–my 1 in a million–can not only cross with someone else’s, but relate, and become something beautiful. In reality, you owe no one nothing. We just choose to care for each other and make these amazing bonds with people, and I think thats what I like to showcase through my work. Those people are not who I tell my story through. They are the story, and I tell it.Something More
I like to make people feel comfortable and heard. Because of it, I’m pretty much an open book. My best friend, Tyler Michael, has taught me it’s easier to form a connection with someone when it feels like you’re already best friends. A mix of confidence and vulnerability is what sells this feeling.”
Another post that I feel is related is from Ari:
“As a story concept for the video, I would make it about where I think my future will take me. Something I touched on in my Radio Show Listen post is that Professor Bond wants us to remember that (Y)our Story includes our futures. Since I already did a project on my childhood to college life, I think it would only be right to focus on where I am going in my final project.”Magnum P(roject) I(deas)
I see all of these as connected. First, there is the overarching topic of ideas that go beyond the simple autobiography. This covers all of the subtopics of our perspectives and personal work, the connections we have with others, and what we look forward to in our future.
Part 2: What do I think about these topics?
Since I am someone who loves discussing meaning and who feels things very deeply, all of these topics appeal to me in different ways. When I first read what our theme for this semester would be, I was ecstatic. I was already excited about the class, and knowing that we would talk about ours and others’ stories was intriguing to me. So far this semester, we’ve covered a lot of ground in mixing our stories with the digital work we’ve made.
I think my personal expression of our theme has come out most clearly in my post “Deep Thinking on Design”:
“I am someone who loves finding the meaning in things, so when I began reading “The Vignelli Canon”, this topic immediately drew me in. As I read, I felt more and more of a connection with the text. When Vignelli talked about the search going in many directions, semantics becoming an essential part of the creator, and how semantics connects the sender and receiver, it made me feel ecstatic, like yes! Someone understands this whole depth thing, someone else gets the need for this too! And it’s important, it’s not something we’re looking for in order to achieve capitalist gain—it’s something that we find joy in, it’s something that has a meaning behind just the simple fact of what it is, and it connects people.
I love creating things and connecting them with others, and I love finding meaning in them. I am a creator, I am someone who wants to be deeply in touch with my feelings and others’, I am a meaning-finder. I think it’s beautiful how we all approach these elements of design in different ways and prioritize them according to each of our values and thoughts: some people (like me) will embrace the semantic aspect most, some people will find the syntactic element more enjoyable, and some people will really like the pragmatic side of things.”
There is a piece of me in every project I craft, but I think that these words pinpoint and cover my feelings about creation. If you were to ask me why I got so excited over reading about our theme at the beginning of the semester, I would you show you this. Stories provide depth, meaning, connection, beauty, and so much more. They are intangible, but they play out in tangible ways every day. And we get to choose how to portray them; every single one of us on earth will tell the same story slightly differently.
There’s a reason that Hold Your Fire is my favorite Rush album. This may feel like a bit of a sidetrack, but it struck me that this is a good way to explain how I see stories, and what they provide. Many of the songs on the album hold personal meaning, yet regardless of their specific significance to me, they represent life, creation, connection, and beauty. And meaning is encapsulated in all that. I invite you to listen to the album; you might find the same things I did, and more. Even if you don’t, it’s good music.
Continuing on, there are certain aspects of each subtopic that I am drawn to and others that I am less drawn to (I was originally going to say “repelled by”, but that is far too strong a word for what I mean).
Let me start this by saying that I absolutely love Jonah and Cailyn’s thoughts. What I am saying right here isn’t really a reflection of what they said; this is a reflection on the thoughts that their posts sparked. I agree with the words they wrote, and I thought they did an excellent job articulating their perspectives.
I want to get deeply emotional; I want to discuss the things I fear and the things I love and who I care for. But I don’t necessarily think that the internet is the best place for that, at least for me, in this moment. Maybe someday I’ll look back and go, “Audra, what were you thinking?”, but I am more inclined to err on the side of caution. If you read my post, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof”, you’ll hopefully understand this a little more.
“This is the kind of post that I’ve come to realize I really enjoy writing, but it also makes me feel more vulnerable than I’d like to admit. As I talked about in my YouTube video in Week One, it’s weird posting things publicly. It makes me feel conflicted, because I both do and don’t want to discuss things online that matter to me. On the one hand, I love analyzing music, but on the other hand, it means so much to me that I feel like I’m giving the other person a view into my soul if I explore certain songs. I love talking about music, I love talking about my favorite songs, I love suggesting new ones and taking recommendations from my friends or just about anyone. However, there are some songs that touch me so deeply and understand the things I keep in my heart. It’s usually the lyrics that find their way under my skin the most, but it can also be the musical sounds that seem to be expressing my exact emotion or thought.
Those are songs that I can’t share with just anyone. Even if I didn’t say anything about myself when I shared one of them, I’d feel like I was exposing myself because those lyrics and music mean so much to me. Writing about them feels like I’m spilling my heart onto the page.”
There are just some experiences, feelings, and thoughts that I’m not going to share with anyone but those who are closest to me. Certain things have been scored on my heart, and that is part of being human. Part of me does desire to share them with everyone, to yell them out to the world, but I think I’d regret doing so later.
Additionally, I think there are layers to our feelings about the things that mean the most to us. For example, there are book series and TV shows and movies that have affected me deeply. When I’m in conversation with someone and one of those works of art comes up, I’m not likely to immediately delve into analysis of certain scenes. Depending on the person, I might do a bit of quietly excited shrieking about how we both love the thing in question. However, with a friend or family member who I know also loves the thing, I’ll probably get into a more thorough discussion, because we are aware of each others’ familiarity with the thing. And if the person is particularly close and the conversation leads in a certain direction, I’ll talk about what the thing means to me and why. Each situation will be different, but that’s generally my ‘order’ of who gets to hear what from the vault of my mind.
I’d prefer to not give a voice to my pain and negative experiences here; I’d much rather focus on the joys of life, and what makes me want to feel alive. I fully believe there is a time for mourning and grief and things in life that keep us up at night. I also believe there is a time for joy and happiness and gratitude. And like I said, there are levels of depth with our emotions and experiences.
I am not adverse to sharing things about my life or things that drive me; after all, that’s a vital part of this class. However, what I am more hesitant to do is completely bare my deepest loves, deepest fears, and the experiences that have had a huge role in shaping the person who I am today. “Deep Thinking on Design” revealed a lot about who I am as a person, and that might be the deepest I reach here. I’m not sure. It’s a tricky balance to strike, and I’m continuing to think about that as I produce work for this class. After all, like I said before, there is a piece of me in every project I craft. If you know me and you’re looking for it, you’ll find it.
Now that I’ve that talked about what Jonah and Cailyn wrote that made me hesitate for my own reasons, I want to talk about what they wrote that made me think “yes, this!”.
Something Jonah said that I really loved was that we let ourselves get caught up in the small things or be trapped by fear of what others think or how they will react, and that fear will limit us from “truly living and experiencing life.” And Cailyn discussed how at this point, she enjoys telling her story by showing the ways in which her life can connect to others’ and that she wants to show how we choose to bond with each other, not out of obligation, but because we desire those relationships.
Both of those points resonate with me. In general, I’ve been learning to set fear of others’ reactions aside and take more risks. One of my goals for 2021 that I mention in my self-interview video is “Relearn how to let myself be free and creative.” That’s been a slowly growing goal for quite some time now, and I have found that I want that freedom and creativity. In that video, I talked about how I lost touch with my creative side for a while, and beginning my game Currency & Captivity fired up that engine again. Creating feels great—it feels absolutely amazing, and I want to do that. I want to let myself make cool stuff that I have fun making. I want to be authentic, and I can’t do that if I let fear of others or things that aren’t really that important to me get in the way. Fear of others can hinder relationships, too. I love connecting with other people, and I think that sharing our stories with others deepen our bonds. I think that even if we’re only okay with sharing parts of ourselves, that still gives us the opportunity to relate to others. We get to choose how much we share and the depth of that information. (Also, I want to make it clear: my hesitancy to share stuff on the internet isn’t caused by fear of what others will think; it’s about the level of comfort—or discomfort—I have in sharing very personal parts of my life with literally anyone who comes across my little corner of the internet. *quick interlude to say how much I love the phrase “little corner of the internet”, and how happy it makes me that I get to use that* And I wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t say what I was thinking about this.)
The last topic I wanted to discuss was the topic Ari engaged with in her post: the future. Our stories include our futures, and it’s easy to forget that. We experience life in the present, and we can look back on the past. The only life we haven’t lived is that of the future. Jonah’s post also touched on this—”So that’s what I want to talk about. What we’re doing to be different, to inspire change, to motivate others and ourselves to get out there and live.” This places us in the realm of the future: although we take actions in the present, those actions will affect the future and the person we will become. Whether or not those actions are intentional, they do have consequences, and it’s one of those things that just is. It’s life. We get to choose what we do in the present, and like Jonah said, we can work on our personal growth. And that growth can impact others, both unintentionally and intentionally. That growth can be referring to who we are as people, but I think it can also apply to our skills and how we hone them.
Part 3: So what does this have to do with my project?
This week and last week, I’ve been mulling over what I’d like to do as my final project. The concepts I’ve thoroughly discussed above mesh with my thoughts from last week, so I’ll revisit some of those thoughts here.
The main points that are applicable to this post are my interactive fiction story Currency & Captivity, my love for writing and stories, my rediscovery of my creative side through C&C, and my idea for a personal canon project.
This is a rundown of the most important things I said about interactive fiction and C&C:
“Another thing I’d love to do sometime in the coming weeks is a project with interactive fiction. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t end up spending a week on web storytelling; I was really hoping to do either the “Create and host an interactive story using Twine” assignment or the Inklewriter Storytelling assignment in the Web Storytelling assignments bank. This is because last semester, in Digital Studies 101, I created an online interactive story using ink (which is very similar to inkle, but it is considered a narrative scripting language instead of a simple online tool). [….] Currently, it’s in a very basic, mostly complete outline form with little story content written. My next steps are to create the mechanics of the game using ink and start really digging into the writing of the story.
I have so much love for my story, and although at this point it’s not really feasible, it was something I was considering asking about creating the next “stage” of/expanding on as an assignment for our Web Storytelling week. (If anyone wants to check it out in its original “rough draft” form, welcome to the first published form of Currency & Captivity. I also wrote a blog post on it for my class.)
Because of this project I started last semester, I found that I have a real passion for interactive fiction. It made my creative gears turn in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time, and that’s fueled my dedication to my story game. At this point, I would say that Currency & Captivity is a part of my personal story.”
It makes me laugh a little now to think I said “at this point it’s not really feasible,” but I’ll get there in a minute.
One other thing I said that I think is important to note in the context of this post is “Storywriting and creation is in my blood, it is woven into my life, and although that feels very dramatic to say, it’s truly important to me.” It still feels dramatic, but it’s true.
As I already mentioned, interactive fiction has a special spot in the fabric of my storytelling and of my life in general. It generated a brand new story and breathed the dormant creative power inside me back to life. Currency & Captivity is an essential part of my story, especially my creative story.
The main intangible takeaway from that post is my love of stories (and within that, interactive fiction) and their significance in my life.
Personal growth, connection to others, consideration of the future, and personal significance of stories are all things I’d like to include in my final project. These are all intangible concepts, and I think they’re a pretty solid set. There is a lot I can do with them; the four concepts are a good foundation for me to have as I begin the process of nailing down exactly what I want my project to include.
Part 4: Now that I’ve got the intangible ideas, what about the actual project as a creation?
This is what I wrote in my post last week about specific project ideas:
“When trying to imagine what I could do as a final project, the personal canon idea I wrote about in one of my first posts came to mind. And as I said already, I’d love to do something with interactive fiction. I could do something with Twine. I’m wondering if there’s a way to tie those together with a video; my experiences using iMovie and Premiere Pro have sparked my interest in video production, and I’m excited for the weeks ahead where we’ll be exploring that.”
A day or two after I published the post, Professor Bond commented on it:
“You can absolutely do web storytelling assignments. You could easily work any of them into a final project or into remix/mashup work. With a little creativity I’m sure you could tie some to video work. There is no one right way to do pretty much anything in ds106, so feel free to bend any assignment to fit whatever creative direction you want to take, or to create new assignments if that makes it easier.”
This encouragement to pursue creative liberty boosted my confidence. As I said in my response to his comment, I think I sometimes hesitate to venture past the threshold of assignments’ instructions (likely due to my experiences in science classes like chemistry where there isn’t usually more than one ‘right answer’). However, I feel much less stressed when I feel less constrained by requirements for creativity. Sometimes guidelines are nice, and there are definitely times I want more specific instructions. But being given free rein on art is awesome.
I began brainstorming ideas for elements and “mini-projects” to incorporate into the final project, and I revisited my idea for a personal canon assignment. I considered how I might add interactive fiction, or even Currency & Captivity itself, into the project. My excitement started rising as my mind worked on all the various possibilities.
Part 5: The Current Official Plan
My current official plan for my final project is to create a video (or series of videos) of my personal creative canon—that is, what has taught, is teaching, and will teach me about creativity in the future.
This is a fairly broad plan, but it is flexible, and that’s what I like about it. I’ve thought of a bunch of things I could incorporate. When I wrote about the personal canon project in my post at the beginning of the semester, I noted that “it made me consider books I read when I was younger that were formative to my idea of what stories were and the various perspectives they presented. If we applied this to our theme this semester, we could expand this to be all media, not just literature. […] and it could also be a good examination of our personal stories.”
This is a list of possibilities I could explore:
- Media (primarily books, movies, and TV shows) that impacted and shaped my storywriting and inspired me to get creative
- Learning experiences that affected how I engaged with creative material
- People who have been instrumental in my learning and understanding of art and creation overall
- Projects that have been the result or outcome of the inspiration I’ve gained
- How my interest in creation has positively affected my relationships with others
- What I’m learning right now that is meaningful to me and my creative life
- Resources I’m looking forward to exploring and using to improve my skills in digital media (and beyond)
Of these ideas, the only one I’d hesitate to discuss is the people who have played a significant role in my creative learning. There are a few pretty personal things I can think of that I’d want to say, and if I didn’t include those things, I wouldn’t be authentic. And one of my goals in this project is to be myself as much as possible. So even though actually talking about the people may not be something I want to do, a possible alternative would be to write them notes about how they’ve impacted me, so I’ll keep that in mind as I continue to hone my picture of what my final project will look like.
Professor Bond mentioned in one of the ds106 weekly assignment posts that “the final project will have to relate to our theme [What’s (Y)our Story?] in some way, and it will have to incorporate multiple forms of media.”
The relation to the theme is easy; I’ve got that down. The multiple forms of media, or shall I say multimedia, aspect of this is a little tricker. Video is definitely the main form I want to use going forward. And I know I’ll be using interactive fiction as well, which means I’ll be using Inky to write the game structure and mechanics. For her video project, Ari made a promo poster (and it looks really cool! It’s very well put together), so that’s something I’m considering doing as well. I’d also love to work with Audacity again, which slightly surprises me for some reason, but I did really like the work I did with it earlier in the semester. Maybe I could do a podcast-type thing for one of my discussion topics in my list above? I could also do a short essay-type writeup on the personal media canon, which was the format for the original assignment in my literature class. There’s lots of possibilities.
At this point, I think it makes sense for me to create a video (or audio “podcast”) for each of the discussion topics. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my (as of yet still-unfinished) self-interview video, it’s that putting together a bunch of short, closely related clips takes time. Creating each video one at a time and having the same intro and outro will provide a feeling of fresh content along with continuity.
My hope is to finish the next stage of Currency & Captivity in time to include it in one of the videos. I know that I need to be diligent and on top of my planning if I want that to happen.
I’m really excited about this project. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’ve truly put thought into it, and I think that it could turn out really well!
I’ll continue to post updates on my project process as I develop it over the coming weeks. However, I’ll end this post here, because it’s 5:04 am and I’ve been writing for at least four hours at this point, so I desperately need sleep. Sleep to fuel the creativity.