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Reflection Letter

This website is an archive of the work that I have completed as part of ENG101 at Emory University during the spring semester of 2022

Through taking this class I have learned a lot about my writing process because I had to work with platforms and utilize modes that I haven’t before. Our sketch assignments especially have demonstrated to me time and time again the specific way in which I have learned to organize my thoughts. With our very first assignment, the creation of our avatar, my initial struggle was with the use of technology. Previous to this class, I never really used technology outside of the straightforward internet searches, and the use of applications like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. I began the project the same way I did any other: a sketch. On the back of an Arabic assignment, I sketched out several ideas for what I thought represented me as a person. The assignment was daunting initially. I didn’t consider myself a good enough artist to draw my logo but my experience with technology was minimal and I didn’t know if I could pull off an assignment that I could be happy about. I also discovered a trait that became very common in my creative process: being excessively detail-oriented. In my first reflection post, I said, “figuring out the correct font and color for my name was very difficult for me and I probably spent an excessive amount of time on that one detail.” This particularness with details came up a lot this year, especially when completing the combophoto, triptych, and quadriptych. 

My first brainstorm of the year, trying to figure out how to visually represent who I am

My completion of the combophoto assignment brought up similar problems as the avatar creation, most of which were due to my discomfort surrounding technology. But other than my initial technological struggle the main issues that were presented to me during the completion of this sketch was my inability to find images that would line up in a way that satisfied me visually. During the creation of the combophoto,  I once again found sketching out my thoughts to be the most helpful form of planning. I had a couple of ideas and decided to draw what I envisioned and then search for images to make that idea become a reality. I went through a couple of different ideas before I landed on my final product. This assignment more than any other demonstrated to me the importance of being able to start from scratch. During the sketch assignment, I was so focused on achieving the first idea that I came up with that I ended up working in circles. It wasn’t until I took a break and sketched my other ideas that I was able to finally make progress. 

My first sketch of the literacy Narrative Comic

Though I didn’t find the triptych and quadriptych assignments as difficult, they were the most helpful of the sketch assignments we completed this semester. Both mini-comics acted as a great exercise in condensing a story. I am a very wordy person, and will also often go off on long tangents and add excessive detail when given the chance. Only being allowed to use three to four panels forced me to think about the most important aspects of a story. The quadriptych was my first time really experimenting with frame and stretching time. Completing the triptych comic before completing the quadriptych demonstrated to me the importance of a single panel. With the addition of a single panel, I felt I was able to make a more impactful storyline, and play around with slowing time. 

The combination of our own creations at the same time that we were analyzing other authors’ works allowed me a great opportunity to practice new methods for storytelling as I learned about them. When creating the second part of my literary narrative, I worked with the stretching of time once again. Inspired by the beginning of “Stitches” by David Small, I introduced my narrative by creating three panels that slowly zoomed in on my house. I noticed that Small’s book more than any other utilized wordless panels to set the mood and scene. I was really inspired by this in my introduction and after introducing the setting, I used three wordless panels to give my reader a sense of my life in the Aptos house. My newfound interest in frame sizes and placements brought about a new form of attention to detail for me when writing. In future papers and essays, I hope to be able to continue to experiment with using minor details to slow down the passing of time in a story.  Though I don’t think I will continue to make comics, I can apply what I’ve learned throughout this process to my writing. 

The scene-setting panels of my Literacy Narrative Comic

The Literacy Narrative Project had the largest impact on my writing this semester. By turning my initial essay into a comic I was able to see what was missing from the story. While I was initially able to come up with ideas for the illustrations, as I moved towards the middle and ending of my narrative I began to struggle to allow the illustrations and words to work together to form one cohesive story and instead began relying more heavily on my words. The ending seemed more rushed than it did in the first draft of the essay and came across as very superficial. I considered my audience and purpose the most in my creation of the Literacy Narrative. With the comic, this meant paying attention to what was included in each panel, and in the final revision of the essay, it meant fully understanding the mood and purpose of my essay. I had to discover how I felt about my writing so I could make the reader feel the same. This can be seen when in my final revision of the essay I removed my listing of the rules of the game and instead only focused on the two important rules. More importantly, I outlined why those rules were important to my life thus demonstrating the true importance of the game in my childhood by writing, “We didn’t grow up with a lot of toys, and what we did have we were forced to share with each other, but in The Game whatever we came up with we got to keep for ourselves. These characters were our only true possessions at the time.” I did the same thing in the following paragraph, saying “The infinite nature of the game provided us with an illusion of control as our lives continued to shapeshift.” In my reflection on part three of my Literacy Narrative, I shared the discovery that led to this major change in the mood of the essay, saying, “my original narrative focused on the different portals in my life rather than why the portals were actually important in my life” and after this eureka moment I was able to erase my feelings of superficiality and make my essay deeper by delving into the importance of storytelling throughout my life. 

The original listing of the rules in my essay
The new section about the rules in my final essay

In the end, the projects I completed in this class have helped me fully understand comics as a literary genre and tool for improving writing. The large variety of genres we read in the class provided me with an example of the enriching ways in which Comics can be utilized to discuss hard topics. Through class discussion of the reading, I felt I was able to fully explore the potential impacts of comic books and how they can offer a more impactful experience for a reader. 

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