My favorite place in East Tennessee

We did an exercise in class, magazine article writing, where we had to write about our favorite place in East Tennesse for ten minutes, this is what I came up with;
The whole thing (Shell gas station on State of Franklin in Johnson City, Tn)

You might think that is not much in the world but when you are an exchange student in U.S there are just so many places where you can actually go. Because that is exactly what you are doing, walking. Not driving, sounds amazing, I know. And let me tell you, U.S is made for cars. But, anyway. My favorite place in this region is the Shell gas station across the road from the campus where I live. It is the closest place to walk to and it provides us with both coffee and beer, both crucial ingredients for students everywhere. It is my favorite place because it is an everyday thing. I have no idea how many times I have waited on the “walking man” to cross the street to the gas station. I do, as well, like the irony of my favorite place being a gas station because I am not able to drive. If I could drive and had a car, we would probably go somewhere else. A gas station is no place to actually hang out. But we do. We take a break from our studying to walk to the gas station and buy coffee and occasionally a weird American pastry, just to try it. We usually walk back to our dorm but sometimes we go to the drive through ATM next to the gas station and sit there for a while. When it is sunny and dry outside, we go behind the gas station and lie down on the grass. When it is cold, we don’t go at all. But that is beside the point. The gas station is my favorite place because it defines my study here. It is not my big trips and fun memories, it is what I did late nights, tired from studying.

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War stories

In Magazine article class we are supposed to do a lot of reading, I really try to keep it up but in the nearest past I have failed that task. I did however read the war reporting articles.

"Dying in Darfur" by Samantha Power (published The New Yorker)
"Torture at Abu Ghraib" by Seymour M. Hersh (published The New Yorker)
"The killer elite" by Evan Wright (published Rolling Stone)

I chose one of these to analyse for my second analysis but before I start with that project I want to post a learner's journal about how it was to read these articles. It was hard to think about the way they are writing and how they tell information because the articles were very informative and interesting so I got caught up in the story and forgot about the analyse of it. I guess that how you write it is not depending on whether you write the truth or fiction but it is easier to to see how it is written when it is fiction becuase when it is about the truth you (atleast I) tend to be caught up in analysing if it is true or not rather then the style of the writing.

"Dying in Darfur" did the classical thing with starting with a single person's story, to make the article feel personal. I did however feel that the effect of making the story personal by giving example of a single person's story lost it's effect when the person never got directly quoted. The person is Amina Abaker Mohammed who lost her son to the janjaweed but the story need her voice to get personal and not only Power retelling what she said. Power uses Amina's story as a memory point in her article. She goes back to it two times in order for the reader to keep track of where you are in the article. This article was 15 pages long and it was really hard for me to focus on the writing rather than the content. In the article

"Torture at Abu Ghraib" I had even more trouble staying focused on the writing rather than the content. This article is a lot shorter, 6 pages, but I remember this event from the news and the pictures that went around the globe. It is about soldiers who tortured prisoners and took pictures of it. Hersh way of writing this story makes the officers victims for someone else's orders. He mentions that they have no training and talks about other officers that thought the behaviour was wrong. Hersh gives the officers personality by mentioning personal information about them, for example that General Karpinski wanted to be an officer since she was five. He ends the article with repetingly qouting people who says that this is was orders from someone else and that the officers are just a brick in a game.

I really enjoyed reading "The killer elite" and this is also the article I'm going to do my analysis on. Wright has a fun way of writing and he uses things I like to use myself. He doesn't judge in his text, he just writes it as he hears it and sees it. He is very distant from the subjects and the places he describes in the article until he gets to the shooting in Al Gharraf, then he mention "I" and how he felt when all that was going on. I like how he takes everything down to a personal level and let the ones who are actual in it describe what it is. He as a journalist is not in it until the shooting and that occur on page 10 of 16. It is fun to read even though it is about an awful thing.

Nameless Tennessee

We are reading profile articles and discussing them in class. The discussion has already taken place but I'm doing my learner's journal about them now anyway.

First out is Nameless Tennesse (William Least Heat Moon), which is a profile of a place in Tennesee. The name of the place is Nameless and the author found that interesting. The article is an extract from a book, Blue Highways, the author made as his life fell apart.

We discussed the thing I liked about it in class, the way he keeps the qoutes exactly as they are said. You know you are somewhere in nowhere with the dialect they people in the story have and it is what gives the story personality. When it comes to writing, I like repetition because it makes the reader read something twice. By doing that you force the reader to first read it and then see it again which makes most people hesitiate and think about it, it is a way of forcing the reader to remember what he/she just red. My favourite thing in this story is;

[“Thurmond, tell him we had a doctor on the ridge in them days.”
 “We had a doctor on the ridge in them days. As good as any doctor alivin’.]

This is probably exactly how the conversation went and even though you as a reader understand that they had a doctor already when it is mentioned the first time, the repetition of it makes you feel like you are actually a part of the conversation taking place and not just reading about it afterwards. I remember it becuase it is repetition but this is also how people talk. People often repeat what someone just said in a conversation.

Other than that I don't find this story actually containing anything. It is more a transcript of people talking and some description of the surrondings. I guess that it makes sense in a book but as an extract like this I just feel that it lacks something. I want to know more bout the place, the history and what is happening to it. I want to know more about the surrondings, what were the sounds and the smells and what did the author think as he was going down to the cellar? I'm missing pieces and bits of the authors experience.

It just starts and ends without anything actually said.

Scavenger hunt

Those of us that had Magazine Editing and Production last semester had already done the "fill in the blanks" assigment so we got the opportunity to do a scavenger hunt instead.

I spent the whole day, yesterday, with the assigment and I am still not done. I looked through all the websites that was posted as helping examples but the did not really provide me with anything useful. I did however learn one thing. To work in the magazine business is apparently about a whole lot more than actually writing, there seem to be a lot more socializing to do than actual writing. I would say that half of the websites provided was membersites for people who want to work in the business.

I am not that fond of most websites in general because I think that those who make websites put to much information in there, organize it badly and have a way to tiny font to show of the mess.

The scaventer hunt kind of ended in chatastrophy from my side because I barely could find anything and what I found was too much information to sort through. I just imagen that this assigment is not supposed to last forever.

Jon Franklin - Mrs Kelly's monster

For an assigment in the magazine article writing course we have to read Jon Franklin's piece Mrs. Kelly's Monster and do an analyse on it. Before I will begin with the analyse (that frankly still confuses me) I want to share some thoughts that popped up in my head while reading the piece. Ever since Washington I thought more and more about the fact that I am Swedish and how the point of view is different in U.S and Europe. Even thought it is obvious that the point of view is different it is however intreseting for me to experience the other point of view.

It doesn't have to concern big things like wars or historical events to be of importance. It is on the contrary the small things that make the difference obvious. For instance, I am reading in Franklin's article;
"'We can't have a millimeter slip,' he says"
and the comment say;
"here the writer intentionally introduce the somewhat unfamiliar word 'millimeter' so that it will be more familiar later during critical moments"
and I think to myself... "somewhat unfamiliar", I know exactly what he is talking about. For me, the somewhat unfamiliar thing came in the sentence right after that, where he mention the "six-inch crescent of scalp".

the other thing that strike me as kind of wierd is how the writer uses the word "pop" to illustrate the sound a heart makes from the monitor in the operating room. "Pop"?


I think of popcorn and if a heart makes the sound "pop", that would pretty much be it. There would be only one "pop" and nothing more.

In my Swedish mind, the world "dunk, d-dunk" would have suited better.

This is small things but when it comes to writing these things becomes crucial for how the reader intepret the story. Luckely enough I am used to intepret American things from a Swedish perspective. There's a lot, a lot, a lot of American sitcoms, shows and series on Swedish television and there are often times where my knowledge of American culture come in handy for understanding the jokes and storylines. But htere is another challenge to actually be in the culture and try to intepret things from the same perspective without letting myself and where I am from interfere.

But the word "pop" for illustrating heart sound will probably always confuse me

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