Week Three: Writing the Old West

This week, I spent the first portion of my time revising my website. I used a WordPress site for a previous class, but shy of distinguishing between pages and posts and adding a timeline to our page, we did very little to flush it all out. The first things I did this week was to reorganize categories so that my site is easier to navigate for potential visitors. Realizing the limitation on posting single twitter post for my daily creates, I searched and found how to create a category and add tweets which can then be added to a widget that provides a feed for those posts. Accordingly, I created a new page dedicated entirely to my daily creates.

On the daily creates, one was rather simple. I just posted an old photo from a Civil War Museum as a bit of history. The other two were gimp edits. The first, putting a saying on western picture, I just created text, outlined it with a path, grew my selection, filled it, dropped it behind the white text, and moved the white text off center above the created layer to give it an embossed look. The saying I chose about not making bets later provided some inspiration for my character.

The more challenging of the two was to put a western scene reflection on a window; it involved doing things I had not done before or at least using photo manipulating tools I rarely touch.  I cut out the glass in the windows, and I took a few elements that could be seen from inside the window and cut and made new layers out of them as well, the lamp and the picture on the wall, in particular. I noted the different reflections from the interior window trim as well, so it became a layer on its own. I distorted a picture of the OK Corral using transform tools, the way that a window reflection might. Then, using different levels of transparency, smoothing on the light from the lamp, and careful layer order selection, I created a window reflection that has some of the indoor elements from before showing though the window to give it a realistic effect.
The western story analyses were rather straight forward, but they inspired more thought toward my character that I created afterward. The first I chose two stories and sorted out some common elements to investigate the nature of the western literary genre. The second, I used Kurt Vonnegut’s simple story shape analysis to think about how the story I read had been composed, what shape the plot had on the simple graph.

I think the most interesting task of the week was creating my own western character.  A couple of the key elements, that he was a miner turned gambler, but not necessarily the deceitful sort, I had decided on before hand. Inventing him though, was just a matter of sitting down and writing in a way that might explain how and why he was the way he was, as well as revealing something about his internal character. I look forward to the things we will do with the character later in the course as I give him more life.

For the weekly assignments, the first one I chose was to write a letter to my future self. As I detailed in the post, although I dislike writing or even thinking about the future, it is a healthy thing to do at times to make sure I keep to my path in the present.
The two assignments, I was able to relate to the western theme pretty easily. In the first, I wrote a pair of haikus about the joys of eating beans. In the second, I wrote the ending of a story about a gun battle gone horrible wrong.The final writing assignment I completed had nothing to do with westerns, but it did give me important time to contemplate and research every word that starts with x in the English language. It was a very simple story using the alphabet as a guide. The story ending was the most entertaining of the three but they were all fun ways to be creative with words, and in two cases, to get even further into the western theme.

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