FUELing Up

Week 13 Progress Report

My story, FUEL, is about the colonization of an asteroid field in an uncharted part of the galaxy.  I will model this colonialization the same way it was reported that the British first colonized Australia centuries ago.  Prisoners will be the ones primarily headed into the unknown.  Once there, the inmates will begin to build a mining colony.  The ore within the asteroids is a precious fuel source.  There will be a central story surrounded by short stories that fill in gaps or introduce characters that will be further explored in the main story.  So at this point in my progress toward achieving a completed E-Lit project I have come thus far:

Writing:  Thus far I have written five short stories that will help begin to build the universe I’m creating.  The stories tell about how some of the inmates arrived at the mining colony. One story is about a rapist. Another tells about a woman who thought she could do no wrong. Then there is the crooked lawyer. I have modeled much of these stories from actual cases. There is also a main story.  That story will be structured in the same premise as the Count of Monte Cristo – one of my favorites. The protagonist in the main story was wrongfully imprisoned. He too, like Edmond Dantes, will have to learn the ropes in order to survive and clear his good name.

Technology:  So far I have been using INKLE WRITER.  I feel that I may not continue with this line of thinking.  Inkle writer’s controls for its free-writing software are not as intuitive as one would like them to be.  This week I will begin to explore other avenues of creating the experience I’m hoping to achieve – the exploration of the universe. I may use a program like WIX to aid in this endeavor.

Time Line:  I would like to have a working prototype by the end of the week so that I can begin focusing on stories.  Once I have a foundation, dropping in short tales should be easy enough.      

Chapter #2 – Getting Work Done

Battling through this project has proven to be quite a challenge. I’ve spent the last few days tweaking and reworking, revising and scrapping, and questioning myself to get to a satisfying point of where to leave my work.

I considered heavily using a new program called Ren’Py, but it’s proving to be too ambitious for what I want to do. It gives me too many options for visuals and interface that I’ve found myself distracted tinkering with the code that nothing was getting done. Considering my time-frame and the scope of what I’d like done, I’ve decided to put this down for now and continue with my demo on Twine (as I’m getting better results there). I might redo this project on Ren’Py when the time permits.

That’s not to say that Twine is playing second fiddle to my range of options, but I find the minimalist approach to design and menus to be closer to what I’d like to do. This project of mine was never meant to be bombastic or teeming with energy, I want it to capture a quiet and somber approach, creating a sort of space for the mind to wander and go at its own pace.

Going off of what I’ve said last time, I’ve been using the bulk of my time editing old photographs to create visual components, nearly taking me three whole nights to get them done. I’m implementing them sparingly into the project, as I’m rather fond of the black background providing ambience. The photos will be used to create a sense of space, but not to a degree of deciding the environment of the ‘plot’.

I’m also using audio recordings – distorted ones – to create an aesthetic for the final creation. I don’t want to expand much further now (because they’re WIPs). Also because it might take away from the idea I’m going for.

My plot is more or less the same, a journey of a person dealing with anxiety and isolation. I’m experimenting with an abstract approach to make the story more accessible and open to interpretation, rather than using tired tropes and leaving it at that. I owe it to myself to create an experience that breaks beyond the confines of creative limitations. It is a struggle though, as I’m second-guessing everything and rewriting my rewrites, but no one said this would be easy.

Coding gave me the most trouble, as it was hard to embed photos into Twine while jumping through hoops, but I got the line that I needed so that isn’t an issue. At this point of the stage, I’m entirely focused on the writing aspect because I’ve solved any troubleshooting issues I’ve had and my aesthetic components are finalized. I’m hoping to get as much as I can done with this story.

Story will not be entirely linear, as I’m finding a balance with branching paths. I’m hoping to get each path a meaningful journey, and create a discussion by the end of it.

As it stands, here are some images of the work I’ve been tinkering with.

I’ll keep working at any free moment I’m given. Here’s hoping something nice comes out of this.

Electronic Literature Project Update

Last week I was super anxious about the project, and when I’m nervous, I tend to shut down. I ended up skipping my blog because I wasn’t able to come up with a solid idea. I am super grateful that Dr. Zamora said we could make up a blog; I was feeling super guilty.

This week I’m feeling much better! At first, I was overwhelmed with the many platforms available when creating an electronic literature piece until I found Inkle Writer. It’s an easy platform to use, and I think it works well with my project. I. originally planned to use google slides because I’m already a pro at using it, but I’m glad I challenged myself to learn something new. I’m still figuring out the logistics; slowly but surely, I will execute and deliver (feeling more confident this week).

To touch upon my story, I’m still in the process; I was able to come up with a solid storyline, which I’m very happy about; well, not much more to say until next week, folks!

Adding A New Poem

My apologies for missing last week’s class, I was knee deep in cutting sweet yams for Thanksgiving. But besides the point, I am pretty happy with the direction my e Lit piece is going. As discussed the prior week with two of my fellow e Lit scholars, I have been plotting on turning my poetry from last semester into some form of a digital piece. I am continuing with the idea of using instagram as a medium to host my art and poetry. I am in three posts so far, and I have about 13 more to go! These past two weeks have been my most creative weeks since starting the semester (perfect time to get creative again!). Alongside continuing with creating my art work, I ran across another poem that I have recently created that I would like to add to my e Lit Poetry experience. I know this was not created along with the other poems during my spiritual journey through COVID-19, but it is a great reflection on how I can now recognize and embrace all that I am. Below is the draft format of the poem that I will be refining soon.

This only the draft : )

Through the use of hashtags that either mirror the poem, imagery, or current moment at the time, this is where I am using the sense of literature to connect with others through the open space. The map out for the rest of my project is to create a piece everyday to post on my instagram. Please follow me e Poetry on instagram: @Mad_Black_Buddhist

Short and Sweet Thesis Update!

I hope you all had a blessed and safe holiday weekend! I sure did enjoy myself and I count my blessings each and every day! This year was rough but it could have been worse. I remain grateful, thankful and prayerful for brighter days ahead! As far as my thesis progress, I took a mini break from it so I can reset and enjoy the holiday. Since we didn’t have class on Thursday I felt less guilty about taking this mini break, we needed it. As far as my plans for this week my goal is to go over the research proposal guidelines and start to really buckle down on it. I’m also planning to work on my literature review which I need to revise and organize. This semester sure is flying by! I can’t believe it’s almost December and we have only a few weeks left! Where has the time gone!? I won’t allow myself to even think about the fact that many of you, my friends, will be leaving us in a few short weeks. I will miss seeing your beautiful faces each week. Ugh! I better stop now before I completely lose it. Damn Pisces in me I swear.

Lastly, I’ll share that I created a outline, which is very rare for me to do. But I need to get organized and fast. The outline is a family tree of the members of my family who I plan to include in my memoir. Besides my older brother, who by the way, has been contributing so much to my project, powerful stuff! I’m forever grateful to him for being so open and agreeing to share his story with me. I will also include my grandparents (that’s as far back as I go) and three of my aunts. All of these special people in my family are important and crucial to the telling of my story. I’m eager to get started on this chapter soon! Well that’s all folks! Short and sweet just as promised! Being that this is the season for giving thanks, I must say I’m so very thankful for all of you! Xo.

See the source image

Elit Project Progress Report. Slow but Steady…🧠💡

See the source image

Luckily my voyage into this final project has gone smoothly so far. It all started with my original idea which surprisingly came easily to me. I also feel passionate about what I’m creating so having that extra spark for the meaning behind the work makes it all the more fulfilling and fun. After finalizing my idea for this project the next step was the most daunting for me. How the heck can I bring this idea to life!? In an electronic literature format!? My first thought was this is impossible. There’s no way I can pull this off in three short weeks. It would probably take me a lifetime to create something interactive and user friendly. However, my fears quickly turned to excitement when I received some awesome feedback and helpful advice from various classmates in our KUWP family! I’m forever grateful and blessed to be a part of such an amazing cohort. The new group is absolutely fantastic too and more than willing to help as well. Through this amazing support team and network I came upon a electronic tool called Think Link. I eagerly explored the site and tinkered around with it. I soon realized it was very user friendly, even for a Elit novice like myself. Okay, I thought, maybe I could do this after all! My first creation of which I entitled: The Scribble Scrabble Brain slowly but surely came to life, right before my eyes. I was blown away by how easy it was to create what I had envisioned! It wasn’t perfect but it was a start! #GoMe.

My creation was simple, neat and clean. Just a GIF 3D brain that lights up with colors with the famous solid black background. I added in some simple symbols onto the brain itself that you can interact with by clicking on them which reveals text. The text reveals a short description of what my repetitive and obsessive OCD ruminations and thoughts are. This gives the participant a real life look into what it’s like to suffer from OCD. Real, raw, and unedited. I hope it also lessens the shame attached to this illness and helps to dispel a lot of myths and stereotypes you see on television or in the movies about OCD and it’s millions of sufferers. Lastly, just when I was getting into my groove and felt like I had mastered Think Link we had class on Wednesday. During our discussions and review of the various digital tools we could use, I learned that we could use Google Slides or Power Point to create our piece. Hold up!? Really?! No way!? I was excited about this new prospect because although I felt confident in my creation on Think Link, I thought maybe since I have some background knowledge in both Power Point and Google Slides that I could potentially try to create something even more interesting and interactive. So that’s where I am as of today. I’m only about 3 slides into a interactive Google Slides presentation. I just need some more time to wake up out of my lazy turkey haze and then I will get back into perfecting my Scribble Scrabble Brain! I’m excited to share more with you guys this week and to hear all about your progress! Xo.

Of course below I had to post a funny Meme of my favorite Pinky and The Brain! Ciao, Ciao!

See the source image

It’s Coming Together…

I finally have a good feelings in regards to my story! Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry is coming together, and I am feeling better about it than last week. Originally, I was considering of using Twine *shoutout to @hugogatica for your help!* but I felt it was too new for me to experiment with at a time like this…at a time when I don’t really have time. I realized that my backup option, which was Prezi, will become my main option. It’s a software I am really comfortable using, and it is allowing to put together what I envisioned (at least 98%). And although this piece of elit focuses on poetry, I am also highlighting other features. There will be sections depicting news clippings, audio clips, pictures and quotes from different scenes and people throughout this pandemic. The pandemic will be viewed from various mediums and lens so that the reader can really leave my text knowing a good chunk of what this world had to go through in 2020. My text is concentrating more on U.S.’s situation, but there will be mentions of how it’s a global pandemic, not just a national one.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Things are coming together, and I am getting a decent amount done everyday. I would like to have it all done a week before it’s due, so I can give myself some leeway to fix and edit if needed. It has a lot of components, and I am trying to make sure of Prezi’s features to the best of my ability while staying true to my content. I am really hoping it comes together well and that all of you enjoy it and not only see,, but feel my intentions when you are presented with the navigation of Yin Yang: Pandemic Poetry.

Banging on the Keyboard is Not Going to Help

Ok, ok. On a normal day, I am an emphatic typer. People who speak to me on FaceTime while I am multi-tasking tell me that I sound like I am angrily bashing at the keyboard. It isn’t true. “That’s just the way I type,” I rejoinder. This is similar to when people tell my father he is shouting, “itsah justah the way I talk.” And that is true too, he is just very expressive. Apple meet tree.

Things went well after Wednesday night’s class. I decided to draw the face of my semi-narrator, Francesca Chillemi (that was not easy, but interesting to do; I decided to use real makeup to color in parts of her face). She’s an Italian model and actress and we share a surname. At present, she lives in New York. She’s the Virgil to my Dante in this project or my Beatrice (depending on how you look at things). I wanted to show that she too crumbles sometimes and can’t keep up her image because of what she is facing: covid-19 in New York City. I decided to have Francesca draw her own face, but it is jagged and unfinished. She’s just exhausted and wants to snuggle with her little girl, but she promises to pull herself up by the bootstraps in the morning. I wrote a poem to demonstrate all of this. I also toyed with the idea of changing to a black screen (like many of our elit pieces); however, that didn’t fit because this project is all about going behind the curtain and exposing the truth behind the Italian construct of making a good impression (la bella figura). There’s nowhere to hide, the white background creates a sort of white flashbulb experience. I like that.

Then things took a turn….After a great Thanksgiving, I went home and decided to tinker with Tumblr. My idea was to create a short introductory piece. I’m a jump in, don’t read the instructions kind of person. I didn’t watch any tutorials. Mistake. I just started bashing away at the keys expecting results. It’s part of the frustration factor that Dr. Zamora talked about. So naturally, I did the logical thing– I kept bashing at the keys [insert sarcasm here]. Then I read a book, The Pianist (not a happy memoir, probably a bad idea to read it before bed). See, I’d already had a difficult week. I’m getting to the point soon (I promise).

Today (Friday), I continued bashing on the keys expecting something different (yes, yes, I am aware that is part of the definition of insanity). I decided to chill out and watch some tutorials to learn the basics re: Tumblr. It’s going better. But at a snail’s pace. Again, bashing the keyboard isn’t going to get me anywhere (mantra).

My plan for the coming week is to complete the Tumblr piece and add in some poetry to my wordpress site. I may also edit, which is intimidating. I see the value of brevity in great art. I learned this in Networked Narratives, which I highly recommend to all students (a course offering in the Spring) We watched shorts by a stunning filmmaker and so much more, Dr. Sava Saheli Singh.

My goal is to accomplish the above and to do it by extending more grace towards myself (always a challenge).

Thoughts on Final Project

So here we are.  First, great job by everyone with their presentations this semester.  All of them were informative, engaging, and I think we all were able to understand electronic literature a tad better because of the work each of us did, especially for me because of my technical limitations.  With that being said, the time has now come for us to embark and create our own electronic literature piece.  I may have a better grasp on the genre as a whole, but I am not entirely sure that I am completely ready to do that.  Not that I do not want to or that I am not excited about it, but more because that it is intimidating, and I’m sure I am not the only one that feels that way coming into this.  

As far as what my initial thoughts on a project like this would be, I chose to go down a route that is something that I feel can do alot of good while also allowing me to create the kind of story or reading experience that I am imagining in my head.  I am, thus far, thinking about doing a hyperlink story surrounding a person who is suffering from schizophrenia.  First, I think back to some of the elit that we have read about this year that utilized hypertext as the primary navigation tool and used the images and sounds in the background to set the stage for the piece as a whole.  The idea is that the reader is actually playing the role of the “voices” in the person’s head and the selection the reader makes is what the person hears, so the story progresses from there.  It is still just a concept at this point, but I think this could be a very interesting and important piece as far as helping people to understand this issue that some people walk around with everyday.  I began to look at some of the tools that Dr. Zamora left for us on the class website, and there is so much there, it is almost overwhelming.  However, there are definitely multiple tools that I think will be able to help me procure whatever it is that I end up deciding to go with.  That’s my blog, see you guys soon!  

The Beginning

My ELIT piece will be a series of poems focusing on pollution and littering. My running title is “Our Hands.” It will focus on different kinds of pollution and littering around the world going to locations such as a New Jersey beach, the rainforest, street gutters, littering, wildfire, ice caps and air pollution. I want to use hyperlinks to allow the user to navigate where they go, possibly on a world map. I’d like to include audio, pictures and maybe videos. I like the structure of the ELIT pieces we covered that felt like a video game rather than a true or more direct story. I’d like the reader to make decisions on what piece they experience next.

This past week I’ve been trying to start the poems and get the basic idea of the storyline down and some sort of structure to how the piece will run. I am struggling with finding a site to start the actual making of the piece. I’m not great with technology so the construction of the story and inputting my ideas makes me nervous but I’m hoping the next few classes will help me nail down a site/platform to use.