Portfolio Contents

Over the course of high school, I have, thanks to assigned writings, been a very prolific writer, and thanks to the otherwise pointless “Works In Progress” portfolio, I still have record of many of them. As I said, I have done a lot of required writing in high school, and though I rarely enjoyed the process, I am admittedly fond of some of the products of this writing. For this assignment I was required to select three from the past four years of which I am particularly fond. I'm not sure whether I would call those I selected my favorites, but they certainly do have a certain appeal. In general, that appeal can be described as creativity; be it in the whimsical alliterations and avant-garde application of an extended metaphor in “the Slumber Struggle”, the thoughtful, melancholy symbolism and allusions of my Descriptive paper, or the off-the-wall to subtle self-parodying in last year's refection piece, these pieces are full of creative energy that cannot always be found in some of my other works.

What exactly leads to the creativity in these particular works? In all three pieces, I took a relatively simple concept and expanded it in ways such that, by the time I was finished, the piece still fulfilled the original assignment but did so in a somewhat unorthodox manner. I also often added elements superfluous to the assignment. It was often, however, from these elements that the creative energy flowed and are ultimately the elements of the pieces that I like the most.

Consider the first piece, “the Slumber Struggle.” Though almost difficult to recognize, this is Miss Harding/Mrs. Schibel's “Pet Peeve” assignment. The general approach to the assignment is to consider something you intensely dislike and explain why. Though the assignment itself invites some creativity, it is usually in the form of examples and anecdotes. When approaching this assignment, I thought immediately of what I have always considered (though perhaps decreasingly so) one of the most annoying realities of life—sleep. While this is somewhat an odd choice to begin with, it does not seem to lead necessarily to the sort of zaniness that resulted. Indeed, it doesn't; point of fact, the original draft of what became this essay is very plain for the first half. It opens with a piece of contrived dialogue, followed by facts and figures about sleep and how much time in one's life it takes. It is very dry reading, and it must have been fairly dry writing because, ironically, I think I fell asleep during the writing. At the very least, I reached some state of delirium (be it upon waking or just before losing consciousness) such that I typed, at the end of a fairly straight-forward paragraph, that no one could resist “the merciless campaign of the snooze soldiers.” Amused with my alliterative imagery, I shifted styles mid-essay and began writing nearly without change, the second half of the essay as it exists now. Upon regaining composure, I realized that, while I liked what I had written, I had essentially written halves of two essays, not a complete one. I had to decide which essay to rewrite and I chose the boring one. Having the opportunity to begin at the beginning, I decided that such a interesting work should start with an equally interesting hook. The phrase “starting with a bang” came to mind, and I mused what other onomatopoeia could be used and what were applicable. Also keeping with the wordplay that began the essay's transformation, I ran with the application of consonance to prose. I also sprinkled in more aspects of symbolism and wordplay. Overall, what resulted was a clever essay that can keep readers attention and amuse them while also getting across my argument against sleep. There are only a few problems with the essay. There are some sentences that I never got around to changing from the boring first-draft or forced symbolism onto rather than reformulating them into more fitting pieces. Further, particularly in the final paragraph, there are places where I took the symbolism to points that it was impenetrable. Both of these faults could be cleared up with further revision.

In similar fashion, the Descriptive paper began as a fairly straightforward assignment and then became something more. The actual assignment for the paper was to gather a few interesting photographs, select one, and write an essay using descriptive language to describe the scene (shown in the picture and just out of frame). I selected several photos off deviantArt, an art-sharing website for consideration. The one I decided on was a black and white depicting some street or park viewed through a chain link fence. There was some sort of cage or tennis court shown and, cutting across the upper part of the frame, part of a power line. In general the scene was very nondescript. I think it was from this nondescript nature that I got the idea of a “wasteland.” Additionally, the general feel of the photo was a sense of restraint and being held back (which, with the framing through the fence, was what I think the photographer was aiming for). Combining the concept of unwilling enclosure with the existence of a wasteland beyond a point immediately brought to mind the conceptual motif (in science fiction, at least) of a “safe area” that exists following an apocalypse. Essentially, the epitome of a “green zone” in a hostile area. The concept of what I was thinking of was reinforced by several literary examples I was familiar with. To an extent, examples can be found in Fahrenheit 451, The Time Machine, 1942, and The Giver; The literary example I probably most closely was modeling was that of “Eden” in the dystopic novel entitled The Last Book in the Universe that I (and several of my classmates) read at Kemps Landing. A couple other, less novelistic, but perhaps more novel sources of inspiration were the titular hamlet of M. Night Shamalon's The Village and an obscure Playstation game I enjoyed for a time entitled Legend of Legaia (in which people lived within walled cities by the sea to keep out the fog that brought with them demigod-like Seru driven crazy by said fog). Inspired mostly by the latter, I had written the beginnings of a short story based on a similar premise on my deviantArt account when I first got it in ninth grade. Perhaps it was the connection of the photo, the idea, and deviantArt that led me to take a very liberal interpretation of the assignment and, rather then describing the actual scene depicted, instead wrote a description-heavy narrative from the point of view of a resident of a civilization whose concept was evoked for me by the photo. (Thankfully, Mrs. Graves thought this close enough). Once having decided upon writing a narrative, I thought of an appropriate setting. I decided that I should have it be the ruins of a somewhat recognizable city. For reasons, I don't entirely recall I wanted one that would have had lots of airport traffic, be somewhat isolated, and somewhat near to the cost. I thought Las Vegas fit the bill perfectly, hence the allusions to coins, desserts, and I-15. Having more or less free reign to play with (having decided to abandon the actual image), I thought of an awesome post-apocalyptic landscape and described it with not only good “descriptive language” but a variety of apt literary devices (roads as ribbons, clouds as another fence, etc.) which gave it a real “literary” feel. It reads very much like the opening of a novel, or perhaps a screenplay. Taking this narrative tone also allowed the inclusion of the whole extended “End of the World” versus “End of the Earth” comparison which I am also especially fond of. As far as flaws, there are a few sentences which read as too clichéd, but otherwise it is pretty good.

The final piece, my Reflection, is the most straightforward of the three. It follows closely to the assignment: reviewing my work from 11th grade, in the process of replying to a quote from Steven King. Sadly, I can't find the actual quote I was responding to; If I was going to change one thing about this essay, I would be sure to include the quote. In any case, I'm not sure how much I borrowed from the quote and how much came from my own ideas. Regardless, I begin with a discussion of postmodernism and relativism that I suspect came either from listening to MC Lars's music (containing frequent mentions and support for postmodern thought) and self-study of various modern philosophies. The great thing about this piece though is the element of self-parody when discussing the various “tools” appropriate for varied types of writing. The sentence on informality is dripping with sarcasm and I love it! The horrible pun at the end just makes it all the better. The next sentence, about formal writing, is also pretty good, and each is made better by the juxtaposition of the two. As far as inspiration, I remember someone mentioning the idea of imitating style in a style analysis, and since I hadn't done it yet, I took it and ran with it.

These three pieces represent some great creative writing within structured frameworks. I would not change them much. Other than the problems already mentioned, there are a few grammar problems and less than optimal phrasings which I would correct. For the most part, however, I am satisfied with the quality of my writings and I quite enjoy these pieces.