Writing Life

In eighth grade I was published in my junior high school’s literary magazine. I only submitted it because my English teacher told us we would receive extra credit for submitting work to the magazine, I didn’t actually think my poem would be accepted. I still have the magazine somewhere in the attic at home, but no one knows if it will ever be seen again. Five years later, as a freshman in college, my dad read a poem I wrote after my grandfather passed away at his funeral. It wasn’t good, but no one in my family really knew that (and neither did I at the time).

As a part of my Spanish minor in school, I was required to take Intermediate Composition which required the intense work of six pages throughout the entire semester. (It was a Writing Intensive class, which generally means we had to do less writing than in every other class.) For one of our required papers, I wrote a short, three-page creative piece entitled “La Vida.,” which translates to "Life." It described the life of a man, told in segments of a four line poem followed by a paragraph about each stage of life (infancy, childhood, adulthood, and death). I submitted this, along with my research paper for my Hispanic Literature class, to the Spanish department’s literary magazine, but I never heard back from whoever was in charge of it.

During the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college, I took Creative Writing. My professor said that I wrote good poetry (as compared to my prose) because he thought I lived in moments rather than in a long story line. I took it as a compliment, but quickly realized that I didn’t care enough about poetry to put the time and effort into revising it again and again. That was the end of my work in poetry.

The fall after my Creative Writing class, I was in Writing Creative Nonfiction. I spent almost the entire semester working on a multiple section nonfictional piece that ended up going nowhere. So, I took the first section of it, revised it, and turned that in as my final piece for the class. I think it was for the best, the rest of the piece seemed mostly like filler to have a full-length paper to turn in. I have yet to go see my professor and retrieve my packet.

Contributions to Class Web Project

My contribution to the class web project started as three paragraphs talking about my group of friends who sit in the library throughout most of the day. Here is the original. It had some confusing wording, numbers thrown in to form a list (mid-paragraph, not in bullet style), and an unrelated last paragraph. After some comments from my classmates, I fixed the wording and numbers and decided to completely change the final paragraph. It seemed more relevant after than and flowed better. After more comments from classmates I removed one bad joke analogy, reduced the size of half a sentence from "all caps" to all lowercase letters, and fixed more confusing phrases. That's how the piece became what it is now.

If You Can't Say Anything Nice, Come Sit With Us

My comments on others' pieces were more or less the same as the comments left on mine. They were mostly about confusing work choices and very small grammatical mistakes. I also left comments on building certain aspects up more or clarifying other things in the pieces. My comments, along with comments from other students, helped turn this text into this text.

Poster Project

This is the poster I made for our poster project. I chose a news article about the Kovalchick Center and Athletic Complex being ranked fourth in the nation in university venues of its size. At first I just took two pictures and a lot of the text from the actual news article, but then after seeing Dr. Sherwood's examples of posters for the Spanish trip to Valladolid I saw what kind of poster we were supposed to be making. I like the effects that I put into the poster, especially the layering and turning of the text on the bottom half of the poster. I thought the picture of the Kovalchick Center along with the words "Nationally Ranked Venue" would draw people's eyes to the poster, then listing the big events that the center has hosted would persuade people to book their events here. I put the contact information at the bottom because that really only pertains to people who have seen the rest of the poster and need to contact the center.

Final Project


Thursday 4-4-13 (In Class)

For my final project I already decided to make a booklet of some creative work that I've done here at IUP. Originally I planned to do a booklet of creative work consisting of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that I've written for classes, but I wasn't planning on spending as much time on poetry as the other two sections because I don't like it as much. The more I thought about it, the more I agreed with this idea. Because of this, I decided to cut poetry out of my final project and just focus on fiction and nonfiction. However, I don't think I have any fiction pieces that would go along well with the nonfiction pieces I have written, so now I've also decided to cut fiction from the project and focus entirely on one nonfiction piece. I wrote the piece for my Literary Nonfiction class in Spring 2012 and I know it needs a lot of editing, which will be good practice in self-editing. I plan to use Scribus to design a cover for the booklet and create a layout for the rest of the booklet. As of this point, I also think I will be making the booklet an ebook in PDF form, possibly using the website Issuu that Dr. Sherwood showed us during class.

Thursday 4-11-13 (In Class)

Today I decided to bump up my final project from a booklet of one piece to a booklet of three pieces. One piece is a personal essay I wrote as the final project in my Literary Nonfiction class, though it needs a lot of editing to become readable and coherent. The second piece is another personal essay from my Advanced Composition class, which again needs a lot of editing to be something that I would want published. The last piece is from my Creative Writing class, and I'm not sure which category it falls under other than Nonfiction. This piece was a rough draft that I never finished working on, so again it needs a lot of editing. I also figured out a few new tricks on Scribus that I think will make my cover page for the booklet look better, and since I'm not much of a graphic designer I need all the tricks I can come up with. Before the semester started I did purchase the book Graphic Design for NonDesigners, and I think this will help me greatly with creating the front and back covers. This weekend I'll be thinking of a style guide for myself to keep me consistent with editing and writing styles, such as to hyphenate words such as "non-fiction" or "non-designers" or not, the headings of each section of the booklet, and other style choices that still need to be made. Of course, I can add to this style guide as more issues arise through the actual editing process.

Monday 4-15-13 (Out of Class)--Style Sheet

I started making the style sheet on April 15 out of class on a word document that I originally uploaded here, but now I realize that making it a page on the Wiki would be easier to keep up with and find without opening the document each time I need to. That could also lead to having multiple uploads of the style sheet as it changes if I decided to keep track of it in that way, or at the very least having to delete and re-upload the new document whenever changes were made. Here is the Wiki page of my style sheet instead: Sean McKee's Style Sheet

Tuesday 4-16-13

These are the original documents of the pieces I am editing for my final project. Once I have edited all of them for the first time I plan on scanning them and saving them here as PDF files.

Monday 4-22-13 (Out of Class)

Today I edited all of my pieces for style and content. I went through all of them with a red pen and used the editing marks that we learned from the Einsohn Book. As soon as I can, I plan on scanning the printed documents and uploading them here as PDF files.

Tuesday 4-23-13 (In Class)

Meghan helped me with my project during the peer reviews in class today. She especially helped me with the title, suggesting a title that prepares the reader for the types of pieces they're about to read. The title that she helped me come up with is: "Oddities: Three Stories of Social Awkwardness" (I'm a fan of titles with colons in them in this style). I also helped Michelle with her project during the peer reviews, but she didn't have much that she needed help with. The only things I found were four grammatical mistakes that needed fixing, which I then marked for her in a Word document.

Wednesday 4-24-13 (Out of Class)

Today I finished up some work on the cover for my final project. I took Meghan's advice about the title of the book as a whole, but I'm not sure about the cover now. I have a black background with red lettering on it, but I'm not sure if I should add a picture or some sort of graphic or not. If I don't add a graphic or image, I will make the title letters bigger so they take up more room on the cover and there's not so much white (black) space. Here is the draft of the cover:

Friday 4-26-13 (Out of Class)

Today I scanned the edited copies of my three pieces. Here are the files as PDFs.

Tuesday 5-2-13 (In Class)

In class today I worked on the front and back covers of my final project. I decided to make the book 8 inches long by 5 inches wide (instead of the standard 8.5in by 11in) because I thought 8.5in by 11in would be too big for a chapbook of creative pieces. Because of this, I also decided to make the font a smaller size on the cover and adjusted it to look better. I also began working on the back cover of the book with a description of the book in general and I plan on adding a short Author Bio (and probably a picture, assuming I can find/take a good one).

Tuesday 5-2-13 (Out of Class)

I did more edits of my pieces today after class. This will probably be the final edit for all of them, with small changes made during the final proofreading next week if I find any mistakes.

Monday 5-6-13 (Out of Class)

Today I made some final edits to the last piece that I plan to include in my final project. I also finished working on the front and back covers of my final project. I made finishing touches to the booklet description at the top of the back, as well as the author description on the bottom. For the graphics on the front and back of the cover I used the website weavesilk.com. I found this website a few days ago and thought it would be useful to create my cover design because I can't draw to save my life. Here is what the front and back covers look like:

Here are the files of my edited pieces:

Tuesday 5-7-13 (In Class)

In class today I worked more on the layout of my final project. I mainly added the page numbers and the page with a table of contents. Here is what it looks like with blank pages:

Then I added my name to the tops of the even numbered pages. This is what it looks like with that added:

I also added the titles of the pieces to the odd numbered pages (except the first page of each piece), but didn't save that as a draft until the final one.

Tuesday 5-7-13 (Out of Class)

After class today I finished doing final edits of my pieces and put them all into the Scribus document to save it as a PDF. I finished adding more pages, adding the page numbers to the tops of those pages, putting my name or the title of the piece at the top of each page, and editing the layout of each page. Here is what it looks like now, but I plan on doing a proofread tomorrow (5-8-13) to make sure it is the best I can make it.

Now after taking a quick look at it online, I noticed the letters were too close together on the title of the first piece. Here is the updated one with the letters further apart.