Rediscovering My Own Creativity

[Rediscovering My Own Creativity]

To be completely honest, I first sought this class out to fulfill a general education requirement.  Despicable, I know, but for some reason the thought of taking an English class higher than 105 really intimidated me.  With a 2:30 registration time and limited options as a freshman, I chose this class with hopes that the title of ‘Intro into Literature Studies’ would be slightly more interesting.

Now at the end of the semester I can say without a doubt that this class has been my absolute favorite so far in my first year at Carolina. 

This class has challenged me in ways I didn’t think that I would ever be asked to.  I have had to think in new ways and utilize new digital modes of composition that I hadn’t previously worked with before.  I will admit, this was slightly scary at first.  High school drained every ounce of creativity I once had as a child.  Spending four years hyper focused on meeting curriculum requirements, studying for EOCs, MSLs and AP Tests forced me and so many other students to only think about the material in front of us.  Never once had I ever been asked to create a video or any type of presentation that didn’t directly state facts in bullet point form with clearly defined headings.  

That’s what I think is beautiful about this class: It is completely based on what you as a person think.  Every project is organic and there isn’t a right or wrong answer of someone’s visual interpretation of a poem.  Each video reflects not only the deeper meaning behind a poem or the analysis of certain scenes of a film, but also reflects who the creator is and what they see as important to the project at hand. 


[Poetry Essay]

I was thankful that the class started off in familiar territory with a poetry essay.  Analyzing poetry in lenses was something I had been doing for the past four years in English classes, so I felt very confident going in to it.  

I chose the poem "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath because I had read this and many other Sylvia Plath poems in high school.  However, this poem was one that I was not able to spend a lot of time with previously and thought it would be interesting to look in to it more thoroughly. 

First Draft: In order to dissect the poem properly, I started by doing extensive research on Plath’s life.  After finding that she was considered to be a poet of the confessional movement, I looked farther into that era of poetry, looking at the characteristics of poetry in that time along with other notable works.  After my investigation and multiple readings of the poem, I decided to go into more detail about the symbols and allusions in the poem, while using a psychological lens.  With these things in mind, I submitted my first draft.  

Final Draft and Revisions:  After my first draft, I received a variety of comments from my professor and my classmates.  The main comment was to try and tie in the political implications of Plath’s past with they symbol of her father and how that affected her psychologically.  After tweaking my thesis as well as the third paragraph to reflect this critique, I re-submitted my paper.  It was given back to me with only commentary on the mechanics and fine-tuning.  I was thrilled that my reviewers thought my analysis was solid since delving deep into poetry was something I hadn’t done in some time.  After doing a variety of revisions and getting a second opinion from a few peers, I was happy with my essay and decided to turn it in  

Revisions and Final Draft

Can't say I'm sad to see my poetry essay go but I am super happy with the final product! "Daddy" was such an intricate poem #ilit

— Madison Forsey (@Maddyy_Leigh) 


Reflections: After completing my poetry essay I realized that forming an argument and using a lens to analyze a piece of poetry required just as much creative planning as a video.  There are so many different aspects that go into a composition like "Daddy'"and it takes a large amount of creative thought to blend those pieces together in a cohesive argument.  It taught me that even though something might not seem inherently creative, it's the creators job to make something innovative and make the readers consider something in a new light.  


[E-Poetry Video]

I was thankful to have what I thought was the “boring stuff” out of the way and jump in to something I was excited about.  I had used some editing software in high school but nothing too in depth.  Most of the time it was to make simple commercials about events happening at my high school that no one but me watched anyway.  

So, excited to finally have someone looking at my work and really taking in my video editing skills and creativity, I jumped in to the project.

Ready to jump in to my e-poem today! Excited to see how it will progress #ilit

— Madison Forsey (@Maddyy_Leigh) 

I didn’t want to use “Daddy” as my e-poem because I knew it would be too long and there would be no way for me to emphasize all of the symbols and allusions that are presented in that piece so I chose something shorter, a poem I have always loved, "Do not go gentle into that good night," by Dylan Thomas.

My love for this poem first began when I saw the movie Interstellar.  I immediately fell in love with it.  It was just such a pure story of determination and love

that I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  The scientific concepts behind it were so large that it left my cousins and I having in depth conversations and combing through Google over our Thanksgiving break.  But the part that I loved most was the reciting of the poem before the crew is about to launch into space and the greater unknown.   

After printing out a copy of the poem and taking it line by line, trying to see what aspects of the poem appealed to me most, I had a clear vision of where I wanted to take my e-poem.  The only thing to do now was to hope I could find 6-7 minutes worth of video that would emulate my creative vision. 

First Draft:  I will admit the first draft was definitely the hardest.  Not only was I trying to navigate Camtasia but I also wanted to be sure that each aspect of my e-poem was perfectly timed and meaningful.   With all of the clips it became overwhelming at one point.  I frequently had to take breaks from marathon editing sessions.  Being a perfectionist, it was hard to keep my patience.  However, with a significant amount of Googling and help from my classmates, my first version of my e-poem came out surprisingly well!  

Finding all the perfect parts for this e-poem is challenging! Kind of reminds me of a puzzle #ilit

— Madison Forsey (@Maddyy_Leigh) 

Walkthrough:  When the walkthrough was assigned I was pretty excited.  I had put so much thought into each of my pieces and now I could finally let people see that.  Instead of just being a mass of clips, it would mean something to the viewer.  I tried to not only explain my pieces but also use some more complex aspects of Camtasia such as videos zooming in and out.  

Revisions for the Final Draft:  After completing my walkthrough video, I realized that there were a plethora of things that could be changed to make my video more clear and concise.  There were large portions of text that needed to be moved, the timing and fades on videos needed to be tweaked, and the end of my music needed to be synched up with the end of my video.  I also ended up deleting a subsequent amount of layered videos that way my viewer wouldn't be too overwhelmed.  Along with the changes I made on my own, I took the comments of my classmates and professor into consideration in order to clean up my composition further.  I also watched a lot of my other classmates videos to see the techniques they used and how they tied the many aspects of an e-poem together.  

Reflections: You should never try too hard to be creative.  When you try too hard to be creative and different, you end up with something that looks the same.  I wanted for my project to stand out so badly that I wasn’t letting ideas flow naturally.  I was only trying to think about what would be most appealing to my viewer and how I could best convey the message.  When I finally slowed down to think about what I wanted and what the poem meant to me, composition came more easily.  Editing became second nature because my vision was natural and my own.  Creativity cannot be forced.  If you let it run its course, you normally end up with something beautiful. 



[No Country For Old Men]

Before this project I had little to no interaction with Cormac McCarthy or any of his work.  I had heard mixed reviews about The Road after a literature project senior year from a few of my friends, but I had never gotten the opportunity to read any of his novels.  I must say, within the first 20 pages of No Country for Old Men, I was very intrigued.

In most novels, dialogue is separated by quotation marks and is put in its own paragraph.  However, Cormac McCarthy operates in a realm all his own.  His style features little to no punctuation which was personally distressing to me, but as the plot unfolded in front of me I became wrapped up in the cat and mouse chase between Moss, Chigur and Sheriff Bell, paying no attention to the lack of punctuation.  

I think most of all this book revealed that there is an inherent sense of evil inside everyone.  Each man was willing to do whatever it took to ensure his own well being, and the innocent ones caught in the crossfire were no more than insignificant carnage.  Personally, I thought Sheriff Bell was the saddest character.  Despite all of his efforts to do the right thing and follow the path of justice, this new brand of evil outran him, and his old ways proved to be no match for Chigur’s methods.    

Film Review: For the topic of my film review I tried to narrow it down to two main factors that stood out to me when comparing a book to its movie adaptation.  After choosing those factors and planning out the format of my video, I zeroed in on some Camtasia skills like zooming out and showing multiple videos on the screen at one time that I wanted to perfect further.  I have always loved watching movies so this assignment was fun for me! Especially when analyzing a film and novel that transferred so seamlessly from the page to the big screen.    

Reflections:  This video differed greatly from our other projects because we weren’t starting with a blank slate.  We had a set starting point along with points we were told to cover.  When it comes to creativity people often envision it as something organic that starts from scratch.  However, interpreting and deciding what made this a good adaptation was a creative feat.  It takes careful thought to interpret someone else’s work while incorporating your own thoughts to create something new.  Creativity comes in all forms, whether that means starting from square one or running with a well developed idea.  



First off I just want to say that I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book.  I had heard of it before and figured it was like any other superhero comic, just another Batman, Spiderman, or Captain America set up.  Bad things happen, character fights them off, bad guy comes back, and character falls briefly then comes back for the final blow, triumphing over evil.

This book is not like that at all.

Yes, there are some stereotypical superhero elements like skin-tight costumes, superhuman abilities, and an insatiable need to save the world, but they don't hit the reader all at once.  

This book delves into the psyche of heroes.  It looks at what it would be like to hold that much power, and that much leverage in your hands, and how it could be manipulated.  It breaks down every stereotypical superhero archetype society has created for us while exposing the evils that all of mankind holds unknowingly.  It also explores the theme of power.  In a world where everyone is constantly struggling for power over himself or herself, their lives, and others, who might hold power and watch over those that are the most powerful? 

I struggled slightly while reading purely because I felt like I couldn't get a full sense of what was happening.  The pictures were so detailed and did just as much for the plot as the dialogue did.  I felt like I couldn't fully view both while reading which made me nervous that I had missed something pivotal to the story.  

Looking back on it, Watchmen went so much deeper than I was expecting. So glad to have gotten the chance to read it #ilit

— Madison Forsey (@Maddyy_Leigh) 


Reflections: Overall I really enjoyed exploring a new story form.  It had all the components of the quintessential superhero comic book, while delving in to so much more.  It really reinforced the idea that creativity comes in all forms and there are so many layers to what makes a work creative.  Almost like an e-poem, this graphic novel needed not only a powerful storyline and strong quotes, but also captivating images to pull the reader in, layered together seamlessly.  Creativity is something that comes in so many different dimensions and has the possibility to be molded to form one great composition.  


[Citation Videos]

After completing a wide variety of projects in class, we were given our final assignment.  At first, I didn’t really understand why we needed it.  I though there was a large amount of overlap between this project and the e-poem walkthrough.  However, my mind was quickly changed.    

I had been taught since 5th grade that plagiarizing was bad.  It was stealing and you could end up getting sued by the author or worse, failing the assignment.  Teachers, librarians, and honor codes throughout middle and high school scared us stiff with threats about plagiarizing.  Even something as small as slipping up on an in-text citation could be a form of plagiarism.  The only way to combat this great epidemic was to cite your sources.  It seemed easy enough to go through the motions of making a reference page at the end of each project, research paper, or assignment I completed.  

But could there be more to citations?  Could there be more to our reference pages than just what the MLA, APA or Chicago style dictates?  Why did I choose that specific article or that video or that quote? 

After watching a stereotypical ‘scary’ citation video in class we discussed how the fair use portion was skimmed over.  In a world with ever-changing digital media boundaries, one would think that the fair use section of copyright laws would be detailed so that way people knew the full extent of their content rights as not only a consumer but also a producer.  In this case you would be sadly mistaken.

Never loved making works cited pages in high school...Hopefully this will be a much more entertaining and insightful way of doing so #ilit

— Madison Forsey (@Maddyy_Leigh) 

Video:  I enjoyed the fact that this assignment asked us to take a personal approach to something that had seemed so robotic and lifeless in the past.  I was able to talk about why I chose the videos that I did.  Most of my compositions in the class so far had been very formal and practiced.  I wanted this one to be more free flowing and organic instead of rehearsed.  I decided to let screen capture run as I cycled through each video and just talk.  This was difficult for me at first but I very quickly fell in to a creative zone.  Even though I was taking a more personal approach to citations I still wanted to give credit where credit was due.  Despite the fact that it wasn’t in traditional MLA format, I still gave credit to the original poster and gave the URL.  

Reflections: Creativity isn’t solely made up of the original thoughts from the mind of a single person, it builds off the things that surround us, the things that we witness and experience in our everyday lives.  That’s why the fair use portion of copyright laws is so important.  We don’t use these clips and videos in our e-poems simply because we couldn’t think of anything better to do, we use them because we have a vision and believe that they could take on a whole new meaning in our pieces.  That’s another aspect of creativity that I think is important.  Versatility.  Being able to take something and give new life with a fresh set of ideas and  an innovative vision.    


[Final Reflections]

As the class comes to a close and I complete my portfolio I thought it was best to do reflections on creativity.  During my time in English 150 I have not only rediscovered my own sense of creativity but also gotten more in tune with the components that go in to a creative piece.  For me, in order for something to be creative it has to be original, evoke some kind of emotion, and cause its creator to transfer into a flow of ideas when composing it.  And that’s what I’ve found within this class.  As we were walked through different forms of composition, being pushed to expand our digital literacy, we unknowingly moved deeper and deeper within our creative selves.  We cannot allow ourselves to get caught up in the artificial template we create in our heads when it comes to projects, assignments, and papers in college.  Trying new things and failing is part of the creative process.  I started over countless times on each one of my videos.  But in each of my failures, I learned something, about Camtasia, about the work, or about my creative capacity as a human being.  With passion and fearlessness, one can never truly fail.    

"Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you're passionate about something, then you're more willing to take risks."

-Yo-Yo Ma