Stephen King is Boring

For my upcoming English paper I would like to write about Stephen King, and I pretty much narrowed that down the moment it was suggested to do one author in class. It’s obviously best for most people to write a paper about something exciting to them, so it was an easy choice when I felt myself quite literally perk up at the idea. As far as the writing process, as the prompt asks, I am definitely most interested in how an author comes to an ending. I have always struggled, in both fiction and academic writing, with closure. It’s difficult to me to even comprehend how someone may come upon a solid ending naturally, and I would love to know how a favorite author of mine does it. I am fascinated by the whole process in and of itself as well, and I could almost definitely see myself doing an overall generally analysis of Stephen King’s process. The point here being, personally, I am most frustrated by conclusion.

Switching gears entirely, I certainly have a personal connection to Stephen King. This is the part where I know I could go on for hours if I don’t control myself, as I am such an avid fan of his work, not just in reading it, but in critically breaking it down and comparing them to his other works and also the works of other authors. No one asked, but Misery is absolutely my favorite, followed closely by Carrie (and then perhaps The ShiningGerald’s Game, although that is a rough one, wow. Secret Window, Secret Garden is also one of my favorites of the stories I’ve read in his anthologies). That being said, King’s work, in my opinion, is highly…not controversial, perse, but debatable in its acclaim. King has a natural ability to make a boring story into something that holds a reader’s attention, it’s beautiful and interesting and I would love to know how he does it. If I were to retell The Shining to someone, in my own words, it could never hold someone’s attention the way the book does. I think the best example I could give to someone to explain this phenomenon is my experience with Carrie. I am a horror fan outside of just King, and watched the movie as a preteen, excited for a film so iconic and well known. It bored me, that isn’t to say it bored everyone or will bore everyone, but it bored me. I read the short story version of Carrie as a senior in high school in one sitting during a class period. I didn’t hear a single word the teacher said, and to this day, I find it to be one of his most profoundly disturbing works. I’m not easily scared by fiction, and Carrie certainly unnerved me. It’s that juxtaposition which draws me to talk about him, and excites me when the topic of his writing becomes a possible essay choice. His writing is all about voice, as opposed to story, which in conjunction with his genre of choice, horror, fascinates me, because it’s strange and different.

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Interview with a Nihilist

Kouta is an incredibly composed person, sarcastic at his best, and intensely cynical at his worst. As a whole, I feel like he perfectly encapsulates a standard user in the online community we frequent. Nihilism is worn like a badge of honor for all of us. Therefore, I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to interview him and get what I would imagine to be a standard answer from a nihilistic teenage member of the community. I was immediately shocked with the first question, though, when I asked him how long he had been present in the community. I had expected his answer to be 2016 or later, like myself, but rather he said 2012, which completely took me by surprise. This is interesting and important to me and for my observations because it says a lot about how the community effected him as a person, as well as the other way around. Another thing that I found shocking was when I asked him about direct messaging. I expected him to use direct messaging fairly often to communicate, as I do, but I was shocked to learn that he rarely, if ever, messages someone who hasn’t messaged him first. I also asked several questions where I specifically asked how he thought that other members of the community would, and the answers I got for those were extremely telling. I believe the answers for those will fit well into my paper as I compare and contrast with my own observations that either support or argue against what he believes. One of the most fascinating quotes I gathered was his view on callout culture, which I didn’t even think to ask about, and he brought up entirely on his own. In response to a question about how he would react to a friend liking something offensive, he said, “If you’re involved with someone who has taboo views or likes things that are considered unhealthy, people will write callouts. They’ll write callouts for people who do it, but they’ll also write them for people engaging. Like hey this person knows OP, unfollow them. It’s like, you constantly have to be engaging in healthy behaviors in order to like, maintain your internet presence and have people like you. When you like the weird shit, that’s all your surrounded by, because those are the only people that will accept you. There’s like this divide, where you have to choose. Do I want to not care and have a lot of people not like me and be with people that like me but they’re older and adults and like weird things, or do I want to be someone with a pitchfork and callout people who are doing wrong and stay on this side? It’s very black and white.” This quote shocked me, because it perfectly worded a conflict I had been feeling upset about myself, and I am excited and inspired by it.

An Analysis of a Tweet

In my discourse group, the general method of communication is Twitter. This is the place where the members of the community generally meet for the first time, speak to each other daily, and express themselves in general. Prior to selecting this genre to study my chosen community, I would say I was extensively familiar, even affluent, with this method of communication. Reading tweets, someone expects to glean information pertaining to the lives of the people they follow (in this situation: friends), as well as current events, and occasionally, or perhaps more often than not, comedic expression.

The fascinating thing about a tweet as a genre of communication is the complete universality of the medium. Generally, few, if any credentials are required to create a Twitter account. A person must be above the age of thirteen, and literate enough to read a sign up menu, and that is it, they are set. This is an appeal of the platform, as well as an intermittent problem. As far as the specific discourse community I am studying, the sub-community of Twitters massive user base. In this community, the writers are generally above the age of 13, but below the age of 35, and it is expected that a user has read the webcomic that is used as a basis for most general discussion.

In conjunction with the sub-community writer base’s general and unspoken rules concerning having read the aforementioned comic, it can be inferred that given the nature of Twitter, the same rules would apply to the audience. On the platform, a follower of a user who the user is following back is referred to as a mutual. This relationship, conveys the correlation between writer and audience, them being one and the same.

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In this artifact specifically, the purpose of the text is both comedy, but also on a deeper level, a connection between members of the audience who “understand”. There is a certain camaraderie, a feeling of inclusion, for the audience when they come across a tweet like this, with a specific joke or reference that they can be “in on”. In this particular situation, the joke being in reference to a specific comic character with very overt connections to a certain biblical figure. The relationship this creates between the writer and reader, is one of friendship and comfort, and that is extremely important with this genre of artifact. That being said, for an audience that wouldn’t “get it”, this artifact would be strange and meaningless.

Overall, the rules for this genre are unspoken at best and non-existent at worst. In the sub-community I am writing about, I have observed the rules to be mostly noticeable in the nuance of writing style, vocabulary, and general voice. The tone is incredibly impersonal, written with lax grammatical rules and disregard for censorship. It is written as if talking to a close friend, or even as if simply recording one’s own thoughts. It’s passive and thoughtless, even. Sentences are short, limited to 240 characters and rarely even reaching that.

Discourse Communities

One of my primary identities is as an LGBT individual. I spent years in the closet, hiding this part of myself from the ages of eleven, when I discovered it, to eighteen, when I finally came out. As such, shoving this major aspect of my personality down for so long, I relished in the chance to finally express myself and be with like-minded people. When I got the opportunity to join the gay straight alliance I jumped at the chance to join a community where I could finally feel like myself. This community would be excellent for our upcoming essay, as it’s a group of people with a single, specific similarity, but only that one connecting thread. Writing practices the gay straight alliances engages in are mainly texting and posts on social media.

Another community I am a part of that I could include for this assignment is the group of kids I used to do art with. Although we were never technically a “club”, we certainly behaved as such, and not all of us ended up as actual friends, so it would be an interesting community to study. It would certainly be difficult though, considering there hasn’t been very much communication between members since our high school graduation. The writing practices this community engaged in were exclusively emails.

A final discourse community I could write about, is the one that I honestly intend to do. A major part of my life is my participation in online groups and friendships. Since around the age of fourteen I have had an extremely active Twitter account that floated around through different groups during the years. Currently, I have a massive amount of friends and acquaintances on Twitter that I have made through a mutual interest in a webcomic. It’s a spider web of people from all over the globe, and I think it would be a fascinating group to study the inner workings of, especially with varying opinions through the comic being the connecting and fascinating thread. Obviously the primary communicative practice is Twitter posts, but there are also direct messages, Snapchats, texts, and group or solo calls (voice as well as face to face). Ever since the assignment was introduced I have been certain I will study this group, since I am close to them in a way I am not with the other group, and there is also a massive disparity between members. The ages range from twelve to late thirties, nationalities from American to Filipino. It’s an interesting group of people with varying levels of things in common and I look forward to observing them in a scientific light as well as interviewing. I have several hypothesis’ I intend to look for, but I also hoping to learn something new to perhaps write about.

Writer’s Block

It was two o’clock in the morning, my eyes were burning, and my computer battery threatened me with red color menacingly. I hadn’t added words to my document for at least an hour, instead resigning myself to a motionless stasis. The cluster of words I had typed earlier still sat at the top of the document, the line marking my position blinked at me, begging for a continuation. Nothing would come to mind. This was my “picnic-table crisis”. An episode of writer’s block so intense it left me nearly catatonic. Similar to McPhee in his article, an order escaped me. Any organization of the thoughts in my head had dipped from the situation completely, leaving me blank and confused. Like McPhee, the type of assignment I was struggling with was a narrative assignment, but based on my own life experiences rather than those of an other. Every year in my high school we would receive the same assignment for our first essay.

“Write a memoir, and tell me about you!” the teacher would exclaim, as if we all haven’t done the same thing, with the same dumb story every year. My classmates would roll their eyes and start opening their Google Docs with their memoirs from middle school that they would just turn in again. This year though, I had deigned to write a whole new one. An intensely personal memoir that the spark of rebellion in me had prayed would unnerve and confuse the teacher. Unfortunately, when I had finally sat to write it, I didn’t know how to put the story onto paper. Again, similarly to McPhee’s struggle with the Brower story later in the article, if I had put the events of my story in perfect chronological order not only would the meaning be lost, the story would end up far too long.

This is a common struggle for me in my writing. Not only keeping my thoughts in an order where they keep the emotion I intend, but also keeping them concise. Often, even with academic essays, I tend to ramble and lose my train of thought, so organizing with flashcards like McPhee might actually really help me to keep our upcoming paper clearer. I may need to write them out and try several organizations, throwing thoughts away or replacing others to get a paper that actually makes sense.

 

 

Sponsors of Literacy

I am deeply connected with the idea of a sponsor of literacy. English is a very important subject to me, and other members of my family. My father was a writing major in college (before deciding he wanted to work in education) and one of my older sisters is an English teacher, and both of them, especially my sister, are people I look up to and have since I was a kid, so this was a heavy influence on me. Seeing my family be passionate about something I could replicate made a massive difference in my reading and writing. My older sister that ended up as an English teacher is named Chrissy and she is about 12 years older than me, which is like the golden age difference for a childhood hero. She basically taught me to talk, and while my father and I read together, Chrissy would write stories with me and together they ignited my passion for writing and creating. When I began school, I had several bad English teachers, up until sixth grade. On the first day of the sixth grade, my English teacher terrified me. She was loud and I was shy and intimidated. Yet, as the year went on, she seemed to take a liking to me and I’m the type of person who needs to be forced into a friendship, so her aggressive approach to befriending me, while on the outside probably seemed to make me uncomfortable, was something I found very meaningful and helpful. I will honestly never forget it. During this time period I was starting to develop issues, she noticed, and tried her best to work with me, and help me. I’m so thankful for her, and her willingness to protect me made me absolutely adore her class. Shakespeare’s plays are still one of my favorite things to read when I need to comfort myself thanks to her. She retired after I graduated that year, and we spoke once out of school, where she thanked me for being concerned about her well being one day when she was upset. Even just typing out this story about her has completely inspired me and reignited my passion for English, writing, and reading. I genuinely believe that a family that values English and even just one kind teacher can change a child’s view on literacy completely.

The Value of Reading and Writing

I highly value reading and writing, it’s been one of my passions for years. Reading is an art form that I respect and thoroughly enjoy, and books have been a comfort to me since a young age. As I mentioned in my last post, my dad and mom taught me to read with the motivation to read along with a book series I enjoyed, and this was a very meaningful and enriching experience for me as a child. Reading is extremely enjoyable, albeit somewhat boring at times. Occasionally, elevated prose is too complicated to understand at first glance, however it allows me to educate myself further and become a stronger reader, which is a gratifying experience. Writing can be extremely frustrating, especially academic writing, which gets tedious for me really easily. Learning to write that way has been a struggle, and continues to be, but there is still something strangely enjoyable about it. Part of my love for reading and writing stems from the ability to explore other worlds through text, which isn’t exactly included in academic essay, so this is largely where the difference comes from for me.

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I was semi obsessed with “Harry Potter” in my middle school years, which reignited the flame of passion for reading within me. That is not the only reading I did, though. Currently, I enjoy reading both science fiction and horror, my favorite authors being Stephen King and Michael Crichton. I very much enjoy Stephen King’s Misery and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park (stereotypical choices, maybe, but nonetheless good). Comics also are some of my favorites, Watchmen is an excellent book and it being a comic doesn’t demerit it’s literacy. My favorite type of writing, as mentioned, is fictional writing. I enjoy writing stories about characters in fantastical settings, different time periods, and the like. Overall, reading and writing had a massive impact on my life and I wouldn’t be who I am without it.