After completing the entire process of the literacy narrative, it—first and foremost—feels relieving but also I have definitely gained a new insight on the writing process and helped me meet the learning outcomes for this class.
By first writing the alphabetic literacy narrative, I created the foundational “script” to then craft my comic. When I was writing my alphabetic narrative I was mainly focused on writing in the most descriptive way possible without going overboard either. However, once I was crafting my comic I became more concerned with what parts of my alphabetic narrative I should transcribe into a visual representation in addition to textual information and how to do so in a manner that the narrative would remain clear for my audience. When drafting the format of my comic, I looked back at the past readings we have done to see how the authors implemented their choices of moment, image, word, and such as Scott McCloud represented them in his Making Comics text.
This entire literacy narrative project really emphasized the concept of the writing process being long and including multiple revisions and drafts. I made at least two drafts for Part 1 and it still felt rough; I roughly sketched out a couple different possibilities for the format of my pages; I went back to Part 1 and sort of completely redrafted it, changing the organization and adding some details. After having worked in the visual medium then returning to a text narrative, it’s what helped me reorganize my timeline as well as encouraging me to use photos in my post that also added to the narrative as it’s being read. That being said, while my comic is definitely full of more visuals than this final copy of my literacy narrative, I think I do fall short in some of the visuals in my comic simply because I don’t have such high artistic skills. Having worked in the visual medium before returning to text once again made me think of more ways in which I could be more descriptive—areas in which I thought my comic’s visuals themselves lacked detail.
Returning to the written narrative after creating the comic version forced me to change the flow of my original story. I had a more concrete idea of the message I needed to relay so I adjusted the alphabetic narrative to be more straight to the point. I decided to dive right into my first memory and edit some of the unnecessary “fluff” from the narrative. I, also, added some more visual descriptions of my setting and scenario that were revealed in the comic version. It helped me see the story through an actual image which I brought back to my written narrative. My analytical thinking process was relatively similar throughout all parts of this project, but after making it into a comic, I was much more to the point with my analysis. I incorporated that back into my written narrative, making it more straightforward. I learned to take adjusted ideas from another medium and apply them back into a written work. It was definitely valuable to go back to the written narrative after making the comic, even just to see the different approach I took when telling the story through images.
Creating this literacy narrative comic was most definitely completely different from any other previous writing I have done. It was also extremely challenging all the way through the process. I think this entire writing process really emphasized the challenges brought up by the learning outcomes for this course. By reading three comic books—Stitches, Spinning, and Kindred—during the process of working on this literacy narrative comic and discussing those works along with reading additional texts such as Making Comics by Scott McCloud, it created the foundation for me to start thinking more in-depth about how these works are composed.
Previously, I have read multiple comics, but I have never processed them as thoroughly as I have done in this class. I feel like in the past while reading comics, I only absorbed the reading as getting an understanding of the plot and having pretty visuals to go along with it—almost like a children’s picture book, but yet because there is usually more content it felt more “mature” reading. That mindset of comics basically just being the visual version of some story’s transcript is probably what made it quite challenging for me once I actually started working on making my comic based on my alphabetic literacy narrative. I wanted to represent my narrative visually, basically word for word. But, the thing I have learned about comics is that the author must really think and strategize about how much information they provide for the reader; it cannot be too vague, but just enough that the reader can understand what is going on without being confused and if there are minor details left out, they can make their own assumptions—based on what the author has already provided. This also caused me to re-write my alphabetic narrative so I could have a clearer idea and organization of what I wanted to depict through my comic.
Because comics implement both words and visuals to present a narrative simultaneously, I decided to make my visuals a combination of images that literally depict whatever explanation I give in the panel as well as images of specific subject matter that remain stored in my photographic memory. While at first, I was unsure of going with that approach because it did not feel much like a “story” as compared to the comics we have read—rather it reminded me more of the Romeo and Juliet “Draw My Life” video I did back in eighth grade—I then realized it is a story, but it simply does not feel the same because I am not using over two hundred pages to tell it.
That realization made me feel a bit more confident in my comic. I wish I could have implemented more thoroughly thought-of and cool choices of moment and choices of frame in my comic, but I think that since I did not have the time to make a whole book with a fuller story for each section—with that “in the moment of action” vibe that can be presented through moment to moment panels—it was what limited my choices a bit. This made me focus a bit more on my choice of image and choice of flow. Just like my choice of image, I wanted to make my choice of flow easy for the reader to follow along. Just how the memories progress with time in a pretty linear manner in my mind, I wanted to depict that. Additionally, in my first rough draft sketches, I was planning to include multiple panels per page, but I decided to cut some off and rearrange the composition on several pages to try and make a clearer distinction of the sections/moments in time I talk about.
This step in the literacy narrative project process has by far been my favorite. It definitely took me the longest to finish but working to put it together the way I wanted was well worth it. I took great inspiration from the works we’ve read so far to guide my moment, image, flow, etc. It was difficult to summarize and transform my alphabetic literacy narrative into a comic. I struggled when choosing which moments to use and how to jump through time. I settled on having the first page with the most panels dedicated to the main memory in my narrative, my dad reading me stories. I attempted to use the full page to show a hidden music note created across the panels. It was relatively successful, and I am happy with how the majority of my comic turned out.
I drew my first draft on loose leaf paper as a very, very rough sketch. After seeing how Small, and Walden go through time with their images, I realized I could convey a large amount of my literacy narrative in each page without needing the comic to be pages and pages long. A part of thinking about my narrative in terms of images made more sense in my head because that is how I see these memories, as images. My analytical process was not much different from writing the essay. I decided to use words to reveal my analysis on the last page. I struggled to think of a way to convey the message using more images, however, I think it makes the most sense this way.
My second page speeds through time to get to my second important memory, senior year Frankenstein project. This is similar to my essay narrative because I followed the story very closely. The main difference in crafting the comic was that I was able to depict these moments as if they were happening in the present. My third page includes the moment I realized I could tailor reading and writing to something I enjoyed. I slowed down time in the first four panels to emphasize this turning point in my life. I tried to have the two panels of just my head up close show the wheels turning when my teacher says I can choose how to present the project. I have myself look up from writing to show she caught my attention. I then switch back to a line or narration and finish the page with a panel from my point of view, like the first panel of the page. I tried to vary the frame and image many times throughout the comic. It was difficult not to have every image look similar, so I did some revising.
This project has gone through multiple steps of drafting and revision which helped me immensely. Starting with the literacy narrative workshop allowed me to get ideas down without even thinking about writing the story. Then, after having the essay done, drafting the comic was crucial because I had to move and change panels/pages to improve flow and include the creative elements of comics. If I had more time and resources, I would definitely make my handwritten text neater and more uniform, such as putting boxes around all the narration like the second page. Otherwise, I think the whole process allowed me to produce my comic successfully.
In my literacy narrative essay, I explored my infatuation with books and due to my upbringing and how moving to America drastically changed my relationship with reading and writing forever.
After brainstorming about several poignant moments in my life, it felt natural and easy to write about my memories and my happy childhood bubble filled with Magic Treehouse and Rainbow Fairy novels. The freewriting exercise developed into two paragraphs about how my love for books started. However, the troubles once started when I was forced to relive and analyze my sophomore year of high school. To have something you treasured just ripped away from you was extremely disheartening. Okay, that sounds dramatic, but it really felt like I had nothing after witnessing the wide gap between my abilities and my classmates’. I wanted to convey this pain of understanding that I wasn’t good enough at something I had so deeply loved, and that everything I had known about literature was quite amiss.
I tried using a contrast of sentence length to show my misery. For example, one paragraph states: “I was so, very terribly mistaken. And I never fully recovered from being wrong.”
In retrospect, despite the enormous difficulties I encountered when I decided I hated English, it was an important moment of growth. I would never be the writer I am today without the help of my English teachers in high school. Ms. Dolan moved away after my first year, but I will never forget everything she has done for me. I did find it surprising when I realized how much time I spent reading and writing before moving to America, considering how much I’ve cried and broke down over English courses. I honestly forgot about my devotion to literature. Writing the essay brought back many estranged and sometimes unwelcome emotions about my past, but by the end, I felt that I received closure. Crafting the last paragraph brought upon an epiphany about how I want to continue: I want to keep writing to show everyone my culture.
Read the essay here.
The free write was definitely helpful as a start for the essay. I have not done a lot of writing since the end of last semester, so writing about something personal and interesting was a great way to get back into it. The writing process for the two were similar. In my head, I planned out the style I was going to use and came up with a few ideas. After, It easily translated to paper. Before this assignment, I didn’t realize how much knowing the grammar rules improved my writing. It is obvious, but I never really gave it any thought. Nothing about either writing assignment surprised me. I think about those memories frequently. The most interesting sentence would probably be the last sentence, when I am talking about my brother. The sentence reads “How, under water, he is the same as anyone else, and, above water, he is just trying to be understood.” This is impactful and the heart of what I wrote about; therefore, I think it is the key takeaway point.
Literacy Narrative here
While writing my personal literacy narrative, I couldn’t help but use it as a time to reflect on the events that have sculpted me academically. Looking back, I think my past is an accurate reason for why I write the way I do. At first, I did not know which event to emphasize or which was the most impactful. Now that the narrative is complete, I can clearly see that all those experiences are to a puzzle, and my writing ability now is the result. Of course, I still have plenty of developmental phases ahead where I intend to grow from my current self.
As I continue to venture away from creative writing, I have less opportunity to express my creativity. This assignment allowed me to reminisce on my past while writing about the one thing I probably know the best in this world: myself. Both the creative writing style and the opportunity for creative expression will be missed as I continue to write more for my career and less for myself. As a result, my appreciation for any creative outlet form has increased.
This assignment made me feel several different emotions, among them some stress and realization. In my narrative, I wrote about one of the first books I ever remember reading, how I spent most of my time as an elementary student reading to keep up with reading logs, and how I feel like I barely have time to read for fun now. I also wrote about how I am not the most fond of writing since early on, especially when it comes to writing about myself, but yet will end up past the word limit and struggle with cutting back—which literally happened with the assignment itself and still went about 15 words over the limit…
I don’t know if it was because I did not find a way to incorporate my freewrite from the pre-writing exercise or if I simply did not have words to spare but that freewrite did not make the cut. The pre-writing exercise did seem helpful while I was listing out the memories and doing the 20 questions for one of them, but then the 10-minute free-write just did not feel like enough (or maybe I am just a slow writer, still holding back from just fully freewriting, worrying about how to word things). My freewrite did not go much past half one page and I think it was simply not enough detail including any of the information from the 20 questions, so it felt like a bummer and I felt like it was cheating if I went past writing for 10 minutes. Once I started writing my narrative though, I actually just ended up incorporating a few different of my other 10 memories I had listed, so in that sense the pre-writing exercise definitely helped.
Writing my literacy narrative was certainly an enlightening experience. Prior to this, I had never taken the time to ponder about the experiences that shaped me into the reader and writer I am today. The freewriting exercises really helped me in identifying the most memorable events from my life relating to reading and writing. With those memories in mind, I explored the origins leading to the birth of my view that reading and writing are a chore, an unpleasant task. I also examined the more recent discovery of my love for rhetoric.
Normally, I am not too self-conscious when I am writing, but this particular assignment made me realize that I have a bad habit of revising and editing as I write. I say bad because it really interrupted my thinking process. My mind would get stuck on one sentence or one paragraph, trying to perfect the diction and syntax. By the time I was done editing, I had already forgotten what I wanted to say next, so I had to waste more time re-brainstorming my ideas.
Looking back at my narrative, I believe the most eye-catching sentence is “Reading and writing are a chore.” I personally have never heard someone call reading and writing a chore, so I think a bold statement like this would certainly pique a reader’s interest.