Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Words are Powerful

Words, like killer waves, are powerful.

What we say about ourselves can make a difference in how we feel and even how well we do in our work. I often hear students say, “I’m a bad writer” or “I can’t write!”

When I hear students express such opinions, I ask them, “Do you text? Do you tweet? Do you write songs, poetry, short stories?” When they inevitably say, “Yes,” I then tell them, “Then you write, and you’re a writer!”

What students often mean when they say “I can’t write” is that they do not feel comfortable writing academic essays.  Fair enough. Academic essays are a specialized type of writing with specific requirements and grading criteria.

The good news is—there is help available! The SWC has writing tutors to help with every aspect of the writing process, from helping students understand the assignment requirements, to brainstorming ideas, to revising. We also provide additional resources on our website www.delmar.edu/swc.

Writing, like surfing, takes practice. I did not learn to surf in one day, and I had to ask questions and get advice from more experienced surfers. I've also wiped out more times than I can remember. The same holds true for writing: each time you put your pen to paper or begin typing words on a screen, you are becoming a stronger writer.

Roxy’s tip: Don’t say “I can’t write.” Instead say, “I must practice my writing!” 

Remember, with every essay you complete, you are becoming a more effective writer.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! My next entry is coming soon. ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Start Writing!

Hey Roxy fans,
One thing I’ve learned from my years of surfing: If you’re waiting for the perfect wave to come along before you jump on your board, you’ll end up dog-paddling the day away! The same lesson is true for writing; if you’re waiting to get started on an essay until the perfect intro or a fabulous thesis pops into your mind, all you will have at the end of the day is a blank page and a mounting sense of frustration.

I know starting an essay can seem really intimidating, but I suggest you dive right in.  Just write something. Getting your first idea (even if it’s really rough) down on the page will make it easier to right the next sentence and the next, and before you know it, you have written several paragraphs! 

Having trouble getting started because you keep worrying about wiping out on your first try? No problem—that’s why it’s called a rough draft! There will be plenty of time later to revise and polish until your writing looks as effortless as a pro surfer. 

Practice makes perfect whether it’s in writing or surfing.  So if you have an essay that you have been putting off, I challenge you to put down your board (for now), pick up a pen, and start writing something (sometimes, I even start with “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what…and then the ideas come rolling in, and I am off!).
Remember we are always ready at the SWC to help you in any stage of the writing process!

Roxy’s tip: Just do it! Just start writing, and the ideas will come!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Hey Roxy Readers! Change is like the tide; sometimes you just have to roll with it, and keep an eye out for the gnarliest wave. Well, the Stone Writing Center, my home away from home, has made a huge change, and it is totally rad! The room has new furniture and a set of killer laptops. So, to all my fans, if you're around Del Mar College, stop by the 4th floor of the White Library and check out the new SWC digs. I know you'll love it as much as I do.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves rolls into view! 'Til then, hang ten!

L401 Then
L401 - Then

L401 Now
L401 - Now

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Now Taking Walk-Ins!

Hey Roxy fans! Things have been so rad at the Stone Writing Center that I haven’t had a chance to break away and update y’all. I haven’t even had time to catch a wave! Why? The Stone Writing Center now offers walk-in tutoring, and we are super stoked! If you need help with a writing assignment for any class, drop by the SWC on the fourth floor of the White Library. We have lots of tutors that can help you.

Our hours:
Monday – Thursday, 8a – 7p
Friday, 8a – 1p
Saturday, 10a – 3p

Can’t tear yourself away from the beach? Remember that Del Mar College students have access to our Online Tutoring Program. You can access OTP from our website at www.delmar.edu/swc.

Still have questions? Email us at swc@delmar.edu or call us at 361.698.1364.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Defeating the Dreaded Deadline Doom

As final exams are upon us, this will be my last entry of the semester.

On a good day at the beach, it’s easy to lose awareness of time. Whether it’s swimming, enjoying the sand and the water, or sharing time with friends, time can move more quickly than we expect. When this happens, it isn’t long before the sun goes down, and the nice day at the beach is gone.

As good students, we should be aware of the passage of time. Because semesters often pass quickly, it’s always a good idea to manage your time as carefully as possible.

However, there may be times when there isn’t much choice but to work at the last minute. This is not always a time management problem. Sometimes circumstances arise beyond of our control. When this happens, your remaining time left becomes all the more important.

First of all, it’s important not to feel too rushed or panicked by the approaching deadline. Fear and stress are understandable, and they may even be used to help motivate you. However, they can also undermine your productivity and well-being. As you approach the assignment, don’t neglect to take care of yourself as well.

When writing on a short deadline, set a list of priorities for yourself. Focus first on the essentials. For instance, make certain you know the most important elements of the assignment, and do your best to deliver these. If there’s a set page count, think about how much you must write to meet the length requirement. Also consider any content requirements set in the assignment. If the prompt asks for a discussion of literary elements, then each literary element should be discussed in the paper. Consider your assignment prompt carefully and make certain that you’ve included all the required content before turning your attention to anything else.

However, the most important priority when facing a looming deadline is in getting the essay written. While you shouldn’t neglect grammar concerns, especially major errors like fragments and run-on sentences, you first need an essay to revise. Focus on getting a rough draft finished first. If you do have time to do some revision, consider content first, then look at major grammatical concerns before moving to the smaller ones.

Best of luck on your finals!

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For Future Reference

Although an umbrella may provide shade, it doesn’t cover every area on the beach. It’s similarly difficult to cover every aspect of MLA citation in a simple reference. The current edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers adds up to 292 pages in its entirety, and it covers a wide range of research topics. However, it is possible to account for the most common kinds of sources you might encounter in an essay.

In addition to citing books, newspapers, journals, and web sources, you may eventually need to cite a personal interview. This includes face-to-face interviews as well as phone interviews. When citing an interview in-text, you would only need to cite the last name of the person you interviewed in parentheses. In the Works Cited page, you must include the name of the person you spoke to, the fact that it’s a personal interview, and the date the interview took place. For instance:

Smith, John. Personal interview. 1 April 2014.

If the interview was conducted by phone, you would need to cite it as ‘Telephone interview’ instead. MLA expects this information for the purpose of accuracy and completeness. While telephone interviews are not common in college writing, personal interviews are sometimes required for assignments.

Another possible source you may have to eventually cite is a movie. Sometimes you will need to analyze film, much as you might interpret a novel or a poem. At other times, you may be asked to contrast historical events with a Hollywood film. In those cases, you would cite the film under MLA rules.

When citing a film in a Works Cited, you would only need the following information: the title (in italics), the film’s director, the distributor, the year of release, and the medium of publication. You may also include the names of the lead actors, the screenwriter, or the producer if they’re available and relevant. A typical film citation might look like this:

Gravity. Dir. Alfonso Cuaron. Perf. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. 
          Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013. Film.

The medium will depend on the specific source you used: Film, DVD, Blu-Ray, Slide program, or Filmstrip. However, you must include other information if you viewed the film on a streaming website such as Netflix. When citing a movie published online, include the name of the website (in italics), list “Web” as medium of publication, and include the date of access. The citation would then include the following:

Gravity. Dir. Alfonso Cuaron. Perf. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. 
          Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013. Netflix. Web. 14 April 2014.

Finally, when citing a movie in the body of your essay, it is preferable to do so without a parenthetical citation. Cite the film in italics as you discuss it, but make sure you include the film’s name in your sentences as you paraphrase what takes place.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Play’s The Thing

On the surface, the beach might seem like a natural stage. In some sense, it is. Any setting is nothing more than a backdrop for human drama. When looking at a play, a literary critic is trying to see the meaning that lurks beneath the words on the page. The play, like any form of literature, is a pool that can reflect human emotions and timeless ideas.

Although analyzing a play may seem similar to other forms of literature, be aware of the intended purpose and audience. Unlike prose or poetry, a play is not meant to be simply written and absorbed by a reader. A play is designed to be performed for an audience, and any analysis should at least consider this. Consequently, there are visual and auditory components to a play that text alone cannot duplicate. This does not make the form better or worse than others, but it has distinctive elements that a literary analyst should consider.

Firstly, a play will not have the same level of vivid description that a prose story will, although it may include classic literary elements. A play will generally include setting information and stage directions, though these will usually be very brief. Because of the shortage of detail, the reader must determine how the stage directions should be interpreted.

Different readers will imagine the setting and the action in various ways. For instance, one recent BBC interpretation of Hamlet imagined Hamlet’s father and uncle as twin brothers, which allowed one actor to play as both characters. While there is nothing in the original play to suggest that Shakespeare ever intended this, it also doesn’t contradict anything Shakespeare wrote. Different performances will interpret the script and stage directions differently, which any analysis of the play should be able to account for.

A modern performance of a classic play will take liberties with the original script. Sometimes the differences will be based in the performance itself. For instance, in Shakespeare’s day, female characters were portrayed by male actors. A modern performance of Romeo and Juliet would not be performed that way today.

In addition, modern interpretations of a timeless play will often cast the story in a new light.  A character that was treated as heroic centuries ago might be seen as deeply flawed today, since social views have evolved after the play was written. A modern performance might even update the setting to modern times, so the story may change to reflect the new setting.

Part of the reason that many plays are studied for centuries is that they may be interpreted in many different ways. Any literary analysis of a play should be able to find a new way to look at a work that has lasted the test of time. Account for the elements that make a play distinctive, and the analysis explores a deeper layer of meaning.

See you next time the breeze is cool, the sun is up, and the waves roll into view! ‘Til then, hang ten!