English 112

Reading, writing, gaming (with analysis!)

Portfolio

Okay, so here is how the portfolio is going to work. You’re going to create a new page on your blog called “Portfolio,” and then you are going to put all your other materials on other pages, either by copying and pasting, or by linking through Google Docs. I will show you how to do both.

Since this Portfolio page is meant to be the main/hub page of your portfolio, you should put your main reflective essay here. It should have a title, and be presented cleanly. Keep in mind that since this is the Internet, you should be able to link directly to your other works when you reference them, so I suggest you do that. (If you can’t figure it out, it will be okay, but it is one of those things that will add to the polished impression/professionalism of your portfolio.)

Here is an example of an excerpt of reflection I wrote about a piece of creative writing. Keep in mind that this is only an excerpt, and thus does not reflect the whole range of requirements of your own reflective essays. However, I do exhibit some of the main elements of reflection, which are describing attitudes, problem solving, and using evidence from the text.

Short Stories Need Revision Too: How I Came to Terms With and Embraced Imperfection

When I started out to write “Ohana,” I merely had the assignment goal in mind. Certainly, I knew I would enjoy the writing of it (when have I ever hated short story writing?), and I even understood that the concept of storytelling through a Hawaiian ghost story had the potential to produce writing that would be quieter and more literary than earlier stories. But for the most part, I simply wanted to write to deadline and create a draft that might not be perfect, but was at least good enough that I could present it to my classmates in workshop without dying of embarrassment. As a means to these ends, my draft was admittedly successful. However, what I didn’t realize was that the true learning experience from writing this story wouldn’t occur until the class was long over and I finally came to terms with the idea of revision. It was this later revision that would allow me to develop concrete strategies for better narrative pacing, even as it revealed the need to grapple further with an acknowledged weakness of mine: the tendency to seek neat, tied-up, and boxed-in endings for my stories.

I’ve done too much writing to pretend that I thought my initial draft of this story was perfect, but I was extremely resistant to revision nonetheless. In workshop, my peers expressed admiration for the story, but were concerned about plot points. What had happened to drive my main character into poverty, they asked, if she had such a valuable piece of land to sell? Why, in the end, if the money was so important, did she decide not to sell? They acknowledged that it was a nice idea, the ending where she realized her Hawaiian heritage was more important than money, but my classmates and professor didn’t quite believe she’d ignore all the practical problems just for that sentiment. In addition, my pacing and narrative placing was a bit off. “It’s a little predictable,” my professor said. “You have her overhearing the ghost story about the night marchers, and then she falls asleep on the porch, and when she wakes up and something odd is going on, the reader immediately knows it’s going to be night marchers.” I recognized this and agreed immediately, also asking about (and confirming my suspicion regarding) whether the supernatural element was too sudden, if it needed to be worked through better.

I knew there were problems with my story, but I wasn’t ready to tackle them yet. At the time, I didn’t know why I felt so resistant. I thought I had a solid story, and I knew it was better than ones I had written before. It was good enough, I told myself. I would polish it later and send it out on submission. Worrying about how to change it when I thought it was fine as-is was just a waste of time. This was clearly a counterproductive attitude, but in a way I think it was a symptom that the story was still cooking in my mind. I didn’t want to make revisions to it because I simply couldn’t yet. It needed time to settle.

After graduation, however, I was ready to really tackle some revisions. I’d gotten some encouraging rejections from professional magazines, and I decided I was going to try for publication. Immediately, I started learning from and about my writing process.

First, I dealt with the narrative pacing problem. Clearly the ghostly action was centered too much near the climax, and this was creating a boring story for my reader. Enjoyment of fiction comes out of surprise and unexpectedness as well as a maintained milieu, so I needed to fix this problem. In this story, the supernatural is bound up with Kailani’s guilt about selling her family’s property, complete with the temple ruins on it. I had hinted at this guilt in the opening scene by belying Kailani’s denial of any concern about Hawaiian heritage with the closing line of the scene: “Nonetheless, she watched Manuku grow small in the rearview mirror until they rounded a curve and the banana grove blocked her view” (“‘Ohana’ Draft One” 4). This worked to establish guilt, and it maintains its spot at the end of the scene in the revision. But in my complete overhaul of the opening scene, I knew I needed to include more of the supernatural. To do this, and to bind it with guilt, I included this section of the scene: “At the head of the path, the feeling of being watched suddenly overwhelming, Kailani looked back. She didn’t know why, and as soon as she did, she wished she hadn’t. A vague face, old and wrinkled and full of shadows, loomed out of the fog and rain on the other side of the heiau” (“Ohana” 3). This added an element of eeriness that melded with a hint at her guilt over selling her family’s property.

Etc.

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