Friday, May 31, 2013

Upcoming Chicago Literary Events

Next weekend (June 8-9) marks the 29th Annual Printers Row Lit Fest. The Fest takes place on Chicago's historic Printers Row, on Dearborn from Congress to Polk. In addition to independent booksellers, second-hand book shops, and literary and cultural organizations, the Fest hosts a full slate of presentations, lectures, and panel discussions. This year's schedule includes several DePaul faculty members, including Amina Gautier, Ted Anton, Christine Sneed, and Kathleen Rooney. All events are free, though some do require reserved tickets


This year's Chicago Writers Conference will take place from September 27-29. Click here to sign up to be notified when registration goes live.


About Chicago Writer's Conference:

We bring together writers, editors, agents, publishers and social media experts at an informative annual conference, and at workshops and events throughout the year.  Enjoy personal connections with other writers, publishers and agents. Our annual conference is not genre- or niche-specific. Writers of all levels and all genres are welcome! Our goal is to provide practical advice to help writers learn how to sell and promote their work. You don’t need to have a completed manuscript to attend — just a willingness to learn, exchange ideas, and have fun!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

2013 Writing Showcase Winners

SNL Writing is pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Writing Showcase! The Writing Showcase celebrates the outstanding writing of SNL students. If you have received an “A” on a paper or glowing feedback on an Independent Learning Project (ILP), please consider submitting. More information and the 2014 application are available on the SNL Writing Guide

By submitting your work, you not only share your accomplishment with others but also provide inspiration to your fellow SNL students as they work on their writing assignments. The submission deadline for next year is April 1, 2014. Students who will graduate between now and next April are welcome to submit. 


2013 Writing Showcase Award Winners
Carol Hillman: "Eternal Silence"
Sarah Gottlieb: "Urbalism"
Helene Bryant: "Positive Psychology in Professional Development: Using Strengths-based Development"
Jillian Gryzlak: "Cultural Symbols and Textile Communication: The Documentation of a Woven Symbolic Textile"
Ruth Rose Sachs: "Privacy and Marketing Online"



Friday, May 17, 2013

On "Forced Creativity"


In "Forced Creativity Experiences (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)," teacher and author Michael Jarmer reflects on his recent experience with NaPoWriMoNaNoWriMo's poetic cousin. Jarmer's take on these "forced" creative experiences is generally positive; ultimately, you're simply using the experience to kickstart the creative impulses you already have. That said, having a successful Forced Creativity Experience does depend on a few conditions: the desire to do it, an invitation to do it, a specific but intensive goal (usually a short period of time), and a supportive community in which to work. When an experience meets all four of these criteria, you're likely to have a positive result. 

As for less-than-perfect experiences, Jarmer looks to his own life: 

"Especially when the rigors of a career and family life take hold–how does one find the motivation and time to write?  And for those of us who are similarly compelled, what are the consequences of not writing? ... I've got some fathering and husbanding to do, and my part of the housework to finish, and a full time job, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It’s just not in the cards."

SNL students can likely sympathize; after all, what is the best way to incorporate a creative drive into an already writing-intensive program? SNL's own Month of Writing programs and events are certainly a great place to start (and meet all of Jarmer's criteria, of course). 

For Jarmer, the answer's fairly simple:

"What we need instead is a space to work, some cheering from the sidelines, and at the end, after our 30 poems or 6 songs or draft of a novel, some appreciative nods and smiles.  Maybe a thumbs up."


Thursday, May 9, 2013

So What Are You Working On?


In “Draft No. 4,” a recent piece in The New Yorker, author John McPhee offers sage advice on the writing process, all the way from those first torturous days of dealing with writer’s block through to the final line-by-line edit. “So what are you working on?”, well-meaning friends and family ask. For many writers, even professionals, that can be a terrifying question. 

Lucky for us, McPhee begins with a call to take heart: “if you lack confidence in setting one word after another…if you feel sure that you will never make it and were not cut out to do this…you must be a writer.” “How could anyone ever know that something is good before it exists?” he asks.

By extension, how could we know that something is bad? Why should we let ourselves decide that it’s all a mess, that the project is irredeemable, before we’ve gotten to the final page of that first draft? We all know that the first draft is usually the hardest. McPhee advises writers to simply “blurt out, heave out, babble out something—anything—as a first draft.” His advice echoes that of author Anne Lamott, who famously (and in more colorful language) urges writers to embrace the “shitty first draft.” The SNL Writing Guide agrees, and you can find a number of suggestions for getting through this tough stage in the Drafting section. Be prepared for this stage of writing to take the longest; McPhee estimates that he spends about four times as much time on the first draft as each subsequent draft.

After the “first awful blurting,” McPhee moves on to the issue that guides the rest of his essay: revision. “Revision,” he asserts, is “the essence of the process. The adulating portrait of the perfect writer who never blots a line comes express mail from fairyland.” At this point, he’s still focusing on what you might have heard called “global” revision or “higher order concerns." Ideas are still shifting, paragraphs are being cut or expanded, structure is still being worked out. In fact, it’s not until “Draft No. 4” that McPhee feels ready to move on to his strategies for “local” revision, or “lower order concerns.”

And he starts with boxes: boxes around words or phrases that don’t seem quite right, or words that may present an opportunity. “While the word inside the box may be perfectly O.K.,” he says, “there is likely a better word…a word right smack on the button, and why don’t you try to find it?” At first glance, McPhee seems to be recommending what writing teachers have worked long and hard to communicate: that revision is much more, and much harder, than pulling out a thesaurus. But McPhee is quick to caution us: “thesauruses are useful things...They are also dangerous. They can lead you to choose a polysyllabic and fuzzy word when a simple and clear one is better.” (For more on the value of simple words, read Richard Lederer’s excellentand appropriately shortessay “The Case for Short Words.”)

McPhee’s essay offers some useful examples of the pitfalls of developing a case of “thesaurusitis.” It’s the dictionary, he believes, that we should be reaching for instead. Thesauruses can be helpful, but “they don’t talk about the words they list.” When we’re presented with a slew of synonyms, it’s hard to decide which is truly the best fit (or, le mot juste). The dictionary, on the other hand, can provide us with not only the denotation of a word—its literal meaning—but also its connotation, or what we can use the word to imply. McPhee describes these subtleties as “hues,” similar to the differences we assign to colors. For example, “gleam” appears in a list of synonyms for “flash.” If we want to describe someone who is angry, we might say, “her eyes flashed,” but we’re unlikely to say “her eyes gleamed,” instead reserving that word for a happier person.  
The trick is making sure you have a good dictionary. DePaul’s library provides access to several comprehensive dictionaries, including the gold standard, the Oxford English Dictionary (which, if you’re truly curious, will provide all of the above plus etymology—how the word developed or was first used).
Finally, McPhee discusses the last step in the writing process: the line-by-line, word-by-word edit. Authors like McPhee have expert copy editors for this task. For the rest of us, there are a number of reference books, such as Garner’s Modern American Usage, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and the Saint Martin’s Handbook, to help us decide whether our sentences are parallel and our verbs agree, whether we need “constitute” or “comprise,” or whether they’re “Dickens’s novels” or Dickens’ novels.” 
And, at last, when the nerve-wracking first draft has been transformed into the carefully, thoughtfully revised final product, we have the pleasure of starting all over. And once again, friends, family, and colleagues ask, “So what are you working on?”

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Upcoming UCWbL Workshops


The UCWbL has planned a busy spring! See the list below for details on a number of upcoming workshops at the LPC and Loop campuses. Topics include citation styles, Digication, and resume and cover letter workshops designed specifically for veterans. 

For more information, contact the Outreach Team at UCWbLOutreach@depaul.edu or visit the UCWbL's website.






Tuesday, May 7, 12-1pm. Loop, Library Instruction Room: 
Library Research Workshop (through Driehaus ACE):
Work with UCWbL tutors and research librarians to familiarize yourself with best practices on how to get started on a research paper. This workshop will focus on research from a business perspective.

Wednesday, May 8, 12:30-2pm. LPC, McGaw 203: 
Chicago Style Workshop:
Work with UCWbL tutors and learn the proper Chicago format for in-text citations and works cited pages. Also, get tips on how to avoid plagiarism. Bring in your current papers and projects!

Tuesday, May 14, 12-1:30pm. Loop, Lewis 1600: 
Cover Letter and Resume Workshop for Veterans:
Work with UCWbL tutors to learn strategies for creating cover letters and resumes specifically for veterans. Bring in your current cover letters and resumes!


Wednesday, May 22, 12-1:30pm. LPC, McGaw 203: 
Cover Letter and Resume Workshop for Veterans:
Work with UCWbL tutors to learn strategies for creating cover letters and resumes specifically for veterans. Bring in your current cover letters and resumes!

Tuesday, May 28, 3-4pm. LPC, McGaw 203: 
APA Workshop:
Work with UCWbL tutors and learn the proper APA format for in-text citations and works cited pages. Also, get tips on how to avoid plagiarism. Bring in your current papers and projects!

Wednesday, May 29, 12:30-2pm. LPC, McGaw 203: 
MLA Workshop:
Work with UCWbL tutors and learn the proper MLA format for in-text citations and reference list pages. Also, get tips on how to avoid plagiarism. Bring in your current papers and projects!

Tuesday, June 4, 12-1:30pm. Loop, Lewis 1600: 
Open Digication Workshop:
Work with UCWbL tutors and continue to develop your Digication ePortfolio! You’ll learn how to create your own banners, use CSS coding, and customize your portfolio. Students should bring their own laptops.

Wednesday, June 5, 12:30-2pm. LPC, McGaw 203: 
Open Digication Workshop:
Work with UCWbL tutors and continue to develop your Digication ePortfolio! You’ll learn how to create your own banners, use CSS coding, and customize your portfolio. Students should bring their own laptops.