institute for documentary studies
 

{A Week in the Life}

of a writing student

[ Emma Rosenberg //  Spring 2013 ]

Week 1
Before I was birthed, for the second time, into the “real world” of post-graduate life, I had a series of informational interviews with alumnae from my college. They had all established a career in media; working at the news desk at The New York Times, producing a morning radio show for NPR, freelancing for The New Yorker. I wanted to know how they left their extra-long dorm mattresses behind and became full-fledged, successful adults.

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Week 2
Walking down Congress Street towards the hardware store, I passed a Thai restaurant called “Saeng Thai House”. The windows were dark, framed by unlit Christmas lights.  A potted bamboo stalk, dressed in Mardi Gras beads, rubbed up against the glass.  Neon signs said “Welcome” and “Enter”. I kept on walking.

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Week 3

The days are stacking at Salt, along with my dirty clothes—the past three weeks have been a blur of black tea, Final Cut Pro, and illegible field notes. I can’t discern yesterday from today, today from tomorrow, except for my change in socks.

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Week 4
“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the important thing in the world, and he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
– John Steinbeck 
 
I heard this lil’ piece of brilliance read by Garrison Keillor on his daily podcast, “The Writer’s Almanac.” Mira plays his podcast at the beginning of class—a writerly tradition to warm us up in the morning, or during our post-lunch haze. Our class nodded in unison over Steinback’s sentiment; it made us feel more, not less, proud of our medium.

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Week 5
I count the weeks on my fingers – one, two, three, four, five – and end on my pinkie. Five weeks since I started Salt. Five weeks since I drove up to Portland from Boston, watching from the car window as the buildings blurred into empty fields of snow. The earth keeps spinning, but the space-time-matter consortium that is The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies belies all sense of movement. Winter has overstayed her welcome, snow covering the sidewalk, coated with dirt, sealed by ice. When will winter be over? I ask a snow bank, my fingers curled inside my mittens. Why can’t Salt last forever?

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Week 6
Write like a M*****f*****. Hopefully by some leap of the imagination you can guess. A Midsized Forest. A Military Fort. A Marbled Furnace. You’ve got it.
The aphorism has become something of a meme in the writing world; written across mugs, pencils, and maybe even somebody’s chest. It came from the mind of Cheryl Strayed, affectionately known as “Sugar” in the Dear Sugar Advice Column. Along with every other devotee, I want Sugar to be my mother and my best friend and my penpal and my mentor and, well, I just want to be her, if there was room for two Sugars in the world.

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Week 7
“To be a writer is to betray the facts. It’s one of the more ruthless things about being a writer, finally, in that to cast an experience into words is in some way to lose the reality of the experience itself, to sacrifice the fact of it to whatever imaginative pattern one’s wound requires.” 
– Christian Wiman
 
I am an over-sharer by birth. In my family, feelings are like food: to be set down on the dinner table and shared, chewed over and digested. I make friends on airplanes to San Francisco, or elevators to the tenth floor – any enclosed space where it is perfectly okay to ignore the people around you, avoiding their eyes by staring down at your shoes.

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Week 8
I am on a train from Boston, making my way back up the New England coast. With two seats to myself, I stretch my legs across the row, watching from across the aisle as tired mill towns, trucks with weeds growing out of their beds, above-ground pools, and mini-golf courses shaped like castles pass by in the window. Two sisters climb to the top of a wooden fence to wave.
 
I went home to paint eggs with my family, and marked up my Salt readings as each egg dried.  Yesterday morning, I transcribed two hours’ worth of interview — pounding my fingers against the keys to keep up with my subject’s rapid stories, laughing at her jokes for a second time, cringing at the sound of my own voice.

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Week 9
This is the beginning.
This is the middle.
This the end.
 
I went to the store.
I bought a toothbrush.
On the way home, I dropped my toothbrush.
 
Simple, yet riveting! A, then B, then C. But what if the middle began, and the beginning ended, and the end fell somewhere in between? Does the story still make sense?

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Week 10
Before I begin, I need to preface this blog post with a warning; I woke up with a kink in my neck this morning. A “kink” — a monosyllabic, teaspoon hitting-the-side-of-a-teacup kind of word — sounds small, slightly uncomfortable, maybe even fun. No. I cannot turn my head to the right, which, it turns out, cuts my perspective of the world in half. If I move, or chew, or laugh at a joke, my neck goes into spasm and cry out and scream in a way that my boyfriend said “reminds him of childbirth.”

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Week 11
When my life because messy, my room becomes messier. Piles of clothing accumulate on the floor, and stacks of paper on my desk. I stay up late, eating toast in bed, and in the morning, I rush to class, not even bothering to tuck in my sheets.

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Week 12
Here’s a list of phrases or actions that, standing alone, might be all you need to understand a person, maybe someone you already met.
Argues with you about your own height.
Is getting their Zumba teaching license.
Has six types of cheese in the fridge.

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Week 13
It’s been a long week. A very long week. If you’ve ever been to summer camp, you know the feeling — time stretching, days melting, so that a week becomes a year. I could not tell you what I did yesterday or the day before because my memory does not extend that far back.
All I know is that yesterday I turned in my final draft for writing, and then I went to bed and slept for six hours instead of the usual four, and I dreamed that I had a bottle of milk in my fridge.

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Week 14
I am unsure if Salt blog etiquette allows me to make dedications, but if it’s not too gauche, I would like to dedicate this post to my fellow classmates, particularly the writing class. We are small (four in total, including myself) but we are mighty.
When first coming to Salt, I did not factor in how vital my classmates would be to my learning experience. They have become my friends, collaborators, and even teachers….

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Week 15
Salt is over. Or at least, we had our gallery show and wiped our desktops and received our Salt certificates and handed back our key cards. I have left Portland am on my way to New York City, to catch a bus to Philadelphia, and then a train back to Boston, and on and on, and so my peripatetic life continues.
For me, “Salt” is now something I season my potatoes with.

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of a radio student

[ Emily Kwong // Spring 2013 ]

Week 1
Q: Have you ever been…
 
A)    Comforted by the sound of someone’s voice?
B)    Spellbound by someone’s story?
C)    Had a stranger’s words rub your heart raw, strum the chord of something deeply personal, maybe familiar and comforting, maybe new and alienating, or tickle you with the kind of recognition that makes the world seem a little warmer, smaller, and close-knit?
 
If you’d answered yes to any of the above, you’d like radio.
And if you answered yes to all of the above, I think you’d really like the work we do at Salt.

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Week 2
When you break it down and consult the oracle of Wikipedia, you realize that radio is a composite of several discoveries: that radiation waves could propagate through free space, that those waves could be transmitted without conductors from one point to another, and that those waves could travel very long distances. Miles. Able to cut corners, scale buildings, jump over bridges, and walk through walls. Radio is the Superman of wireless communication. In this way, it’s difficult to determine when radio was invented because radio is not a machine. Your computer, that unit in your car with the black dial, that antique contraption with the gaping wooden mouth is not “the radio,” but the penultimate stop (the last stop being your ears) of a signal that was sent to you by someone you cannot see.
 
Who is that someone?

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Week 3
The day began with lobster pie and ended with walking through a cemetery knee-deep in snow.
Let me explain.
The first week, our instructor Michael gave us an assignment to create a profile about another student. The student profile, much like the audio postcard, was designed to get us comfortable with field recording and to stretch our ProTools wings (that’s the editing software we use at Salt). But unlike the audio postcard, in which we sought subjects in exotic Portland destinations, we were each other’s interview subjects. At the time, this seemed harmless.

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Week 4
“Kill your darlings.”
 
Or
 
“Kill your babies.”
 
Or (as William Zinsser eloquently puts it):
 
“Look for clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly. Be grateful for everything you can throw away.”
 
William Zinsser wrote On Writing Well, a guide for nonfiction writing our radio instructor Michael assigned us in January. I read it quickly then, but am reading it slowly now. For every chink and Achilles heel in my writing character, there is a sentence of his book to puncture it.

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Week 5
Since introducing the radio production track in 2000, Salt has acquired some serious clout in the broadcast industry. This in in part due to the quality of the work produced by the students, disseminated through websites, blog, and radio collectives (e.g. PRX, Transom, Hearing Voices), the airwaves of major stations (e.g. MPBN, NPR), and presented at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.
Post-graduation, Salt alumni ride the coattails of the portfolio they created to professional heights, landing radio production jobs, freelance gigs, and funding for independent projects. This, in turn, encourages the radio curious to apply. The Salt loops feeds back on itself. In fact, it was through tracing the footsteps of people I admired that I came across Salt in the first place. The name kept popping up in the “About Me” section for young producers, like a specter of radio past – “at Salt,” “from Salt,” “produced at Salt.”

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Week 6
We’ve been talking a lot in radio class lately about “tracking,” which is narrated portion of a radio feature. Much like the host of a three-ring circus, narration provides the connective tissue of production that would otherwise be an assembly of noise. There is a canonical sound to NPR: commanding, authoritative, a crystalline symphony of journalistic merit and humanity. Think of Edward R. Murrow or Orson Welles. Whether announcing the London Blitz or a Martian invasion, their voices maximize the meaning of written copy. This is the lesson to keep in mind at Salt when you are standing in the sound booth at 2 in the morning, attempting a narration of your own pieces and detesting the sound of your voice upon playback.

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Week 7
For the past month, I’ve been time traveling. I’ve been venturing out of state to a living history museum that replicates village life in 19th century rural New England and getting to know the historical interpreters: those costumed men and women who operate the village for a curious 21st century public.

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Week 8
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners – I wish someone told me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

–Ira Glass

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Week 9
One of the radio students with a proclivity for pop culture compared the Salt program to a reality television show. A lot of the basic ingredients of “The Real World: Portland” are there. We are 20 strangers picked to live in Maine. Our lives aren’t taped, yet we are always recording (with cameras, with audio gear, with pens and paper and memory). At Salt, it’s entirely possible for your colleagues, roommates, and friends to be one and the same. The emotions are raw. The stories are true.

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Week 10
My multimedia feature is about a documentary filmmaker who, in late January, lost 40 years’ worth of work in a barn fire. All that remains is a mound of jagged wood, charred black and jutting skywards at painful angles. Wedged in between the burnt beams are artifacts of his documentary life. A burnt film reel. A warped script. There was even a fragment from the Collected Works of William Shakespeare. Richard plucked it off the ground and cupped The Bard of Avon’s face, encircled by a curling ring of scorched paper. With remains like that, it’s not wonder Richard and his wife decided to burn the rest down. I drove up to their house to document the burning the day before.

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Week 11
Are there certain conversations in your life you wish you could revisit? In radio, you have that luxury. Everything is recorded – well, almost everything—hopefully the most intriguing and informative parts. You carry these lessons in your pocket. And when you return to Salt after a day of fieldwork and transfer raw audio files from your recorder to your computer, that period of five to eight minutes is laden with more anticipation then Christmas. It’s a simple maneuver, but I tend to hold my breath as I upload my tape and watch the blue bar inch closer to completion…

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Week 12
Megan, Peter, and Samara, dynamite radio students all, went to the Megapolis Audio Festival this past weekend. They brought back the goods: the names of up and coming producers, excerpted lectures, revolutionary pieces, and a glimpse into the experimental horizon. NPR has a sound, but it’s not the only sound.

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Week 13
The first pitch I submitted for my Salt radio feature was 581 words long. It began like this:
“Google “Druids” and you will likely unearth images of cloaked figures holding hands and walking sticks, encircling Stonehenge while raising their faces to the sky. Are they singing? Are they chanting? Are they praying? Their form of worship is beguiling.”
To my untutored January imagination, this was a beguiling first paragraph. It beckoned forward with a long, bony finger, much the way I imagined the Druid community of Portland entreated its followers.
Yet much like a blog post that takes too long to arrive at its point (thank you faithful reader), a radio pitch that fails to hook someone immediately will not a radio story make.

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Week 14

We’re exhausted.
Our computers are exhausted (which is probably why they keep crashing on us).
Our fingers are exhausted (which is probably why I hear the occasional sound of knuckles cracking amidst the clicking of keyboards).
Our brains are exhausted from the endless toggling between Slip and Shuffle mode that makes our radio pieces an intricate game of Tetris and the 11th hour script tweaks more obsessive than Webster writing the dictionary. I keep fudging at the level of single words, transitions like “but” and “now” and “and so…” in that hefty way Ira Glass sucks the story into a conclusive vacuum by saying “And so what have we learned…”

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Week 15

Salt is self-selecting. Imagine a group of 20 people who are innately curious, ask probing questions, care about the inner lives of other people and could listen until their ears fall off,  sponges laden with the weight of your words. If this describes you, then coming to Salt is like finding your long lost brothers and sisters. Your people. And it was these people that I had the enormous pleasure of standing alongside during our graduation.

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of a photography student

[ Liz Mak // Spring 2013 ]

Week 1
Hello prospective Salt students, and Mom:
 
I‘m making the guess that you’re interested in the school, and here to gain insight into how a photo student at Salt spends her time (and why she hasn’t called you back). And I hope that in the next several months, I’ll be able to help illustrate, at the very least, one student’s experience in an honest and fulfilling way.
 
On with the introduction: My name is Liz Mak, I’m 25, and from Los Angeles.

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Week 2Like last week and undoubtedly the week to come, it’s been a big one: I’ve rarely been quite as provoked to thought as I have these past few days. In photo class, we presented last week’s work, when we went out into a neighborhood and tried to capture it visually. I myself have never been critiqued on my work — it’s easy to feel pleased about your photos when the only critical engagement you’ve had with them is x number of Facebook likes — so I was glad for the honest review that Nelson, the photo teacher, gave:
 
Me:    Here’s a photo of a couple looking at each other lovingly.
Student 1:    That’s nice. You captured a nice moment.
Student 2:    Ooh. That’s great.
Others:        (Agreement.)
 
[Pause]
 
Nelson:        But is it a nice moment?

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Week 3
One of the radio kids said it best: Things are starting to get real.
 
Final project ideas were due this week, and in the aftermath of a long and embarrassing pitch session, stories got trashed, idea babies killed, and hustling ramped up to a new level. This week for me is a limbo state, with the intense highs of weeks one and two now tempered by the conundrum of week three: Your work and ideas are terrible; you know it; and yet you have no idea how to make them better.
 
Earlier this week, I took a portrait of an artist.

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Week 4
Now is the hump period, I told my roommate’s boyfriend. That is, now is the time I wish were already over.
Except for today, when I neglected my work, obsessively curating my Internet presence and “personal brand” (lizmak.com). But other than that brief – and necessary — respite, it’s been a non-stop week, leaving me exhausted, overwhelmed, and a bit unhinged. For testimonial, just ask my roommates.
The work for our Documentary In A Day project is still incomplete…

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Week 5
This week, out of my roommates, Mike took a wandering country drive up Route 1. Emily went to Boston for a weekend with friends and family. Erika and I stayed home.
When you feed off a regular diet of day-old coffee and panic, constantly caught up in repeating waves of despair for not having found your final project – or one satisfactory enough – it is nice to, as Mike puts it, “go outside.” And sometimes, even if you can’t get yourself out the door, the very least you can do is give yourself a break to watch and complain about the inconsistency of ‘Girls’, season two.
It’s a real blessing that for those times I don’t make it outside — choosing instead to stress purposefully from the living room papasan — I have the company of my roommates. Salt students live in the other apartments that make up our complex, and for me, our weekly dinners are a source of relief and comfort.

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Week 6
Apparently, I’ve adopted the Asian beat.
I’ve been trying, for the past couple of weeks, to find a story on the traditional Asian immigrant family.  I thought it’d be a good way to explore my own family’s history, and also — as a California transplant in a new city with relatively very few Asians — to figure out why people come here to live, instead of say, New York, where the community is significantly larger. How do people hold on to their culture when the community is a fragment of the size? How do they stay close? — All questions I wanted to explore.
I can’t speak too much about my current project, but I will say that I found a Chinese family that is, perhaps, the complete opposite of what I had originally envisioned.

 
Week 7I mentioned to my photo instructor my newly gained peace of mind, which he met with relief: “I was getting a little worried,” he said.
Sometimes, when it comes to self-evaluation, a bit of leniency is called for to appreciate your circumstances — and in cases when you’re the one guilty of applying the pressure, sometimes it takes a few weeks to get the hint.
I’ve been really hard on myself thus far…

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Week 8

I thought you all might want to know what it’s like to be in the field, so I’ve compiled an emotional play-by-play for the fledgling documentarian, as informed by my own experience. It’s likely that you’ll pass through all of these stages, in their various forms.
 

You’re all like, “I got this.”
Radio blogger Emily Kwong and I were congratulating ourselves for getting our acts together and being ahead of the curve. We’d rounded up our equipment, I’d bought a sick new tripod, and we were all set to do a practice video interview, just to prepare – unprompted and solely on our own initiative. We spent an hour or so on the interview, perfecting the frames, filming b-roll, angling for the natural light to flatter the others’ features. I forgot to record the sound.

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Week 9

I didn’t realize, before Salt, that photography is its own form of poetry. Because of my own inexperience and ignorance, I short-changed the whole medium, never able to connect to it as a fluent language, instead seeing it as a series of disjointed fragments.
No surprise then that reading a photo book proved a greater mystery, given my lack of photographic literacy. The past few weeks at Salt, then, have been one extended, persistent question:  What makes a photo book worth reading?

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Week 10
Midway through the semester, our photography instructor, Nelson, looked through all the images we’d taken so far: the good, the bad, the blurryHe looked at the photos for my final project, a photographic essay of a family with two Caucasian mothers and their adopted Chinese daughters. “But what are you trying to say?” he asked me.
“I was just trying to capture,” I said.
“But you’re photographing a non-traditional family in a traditional way.”
What I gathered from Nelson is that you can point at something with your camera, just as you can point to something with your pen. “We don’t need another document, we need your opinion,” he advised.

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Week 11
Several weeks ago, our instructor Nelson set up a meet-and-greet with last semester’s photo students. Their strongest words of advice, from a place of experience: Get on your second project.
Many of them confessed to having locked down their second stories late in the game, and only weeks before the end of the semester. We knew deep inside that we would never be like them. We wouldn’t make their same mistakes.

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Week 12
I’m sure all you creative types can relate: Following a career in multimedia or photography can sometimes feel precarious. They’re both artistic and undervalued pursuits, and the reality that most of us Salties will soon enter the go-getter’s world of freelancing is one I find intimidating. Before my time at Salt, it seemed almost unfathomable, working as a freelancer — but I’ve learned over the past few months that with only a camera and tripod in hand, I can create some pretty good multimedia.

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Week 13
We’ve almost entirely completed our photo and multimedia projects for the semester. This week, I said goodbye to my subject family — next time I see them, it won’t be in their family living room but at the gallery show, watching them watch my work of them. There’s a sense of completion coming on, at least for the semester.
“How do you feel?” Nelson, my photography teacher, asked.

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Week 14
It’s hard to believe the semester’s almost over. And yet, we’ve begun prepping for our gallery show, and screening nearly-perfect drafts of our classmates’ final multimedia pieces.
These are pieces that we struggled to lock down in our first (or, in special cases, last) weeks; ones where, in those early days, going out to interview, shoot and photograph was a terrifying prospect…

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Week 15
May 16: Our first gallery show.
Seeing your subjects in the flesh, standing under images featuring them and hanging on the gallery wall lends itself to a complicated mix of pride and fear. Thursday night, I watched my subjects look at themselves as I saw them in their daily lives, in their living rooms and their kitchens, in their most intimate moments.  Kimberly, one of the girls I followed, was wearing the same clothes she wore in one of my framed pictures.

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of a new media student



[ Alison Hudson ]                      [ Al Quinlan ]                        [ Smith Galtney ]

 

Week 1

Alison, writing

The first week of Salt was an extended exercise in introducing myself to strangers. This was neither entirely unexpected (how else would I get to know my classmates and instructors?) nor should it have been difficult, what with my familiarity on the topic of myself. However, when it came time to synthesize my geographical and academic histories into a cohesive explanation of why I was attending Salt, I found myself struggling for clarity. Too much information was confusing—how does three years of seasonal employment punctuated with extended bouts of travel relate to writing? Too little information—name, track, and most recent mailing address—seemed uncooperative. Less than ten minutes into my career at Salt and I was paralyzed by the task of telling the simplest story of all: my own.
 
But I got through it and it got easier.

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Week 2

Al, radio

Hi! My name is Alice Quinlan. I’m in the radio track here at Salt. My path to Salt started at Sarah Lawrence College where, in my senior year, I decided to veer away from my major (philosophy) and take a class on writing for radio. My future was sealed! Since I graduated from college I’ve been living and working in the small town of Marfa, Texas, trying to figure out how to make a career out of a love for radio and multimedia work. It’s only my second week at Salt, but I already know I’ve made the right choice – my butt is being sufficiently kicked!
 
This week, our multimedia class was focused on our Documentary in a Day assignment.

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Week 3

Smith, photo

My name is Smith Galtney. I’m a 41-year-old entertainment journalist, and after really getting into photography about a year and a half ago, I decided going to Salt was the perfect next move for me. I’d long been bored writing about pop culture. I was eager to tell good stories about real people. And since I thought I was (a) an all-around nice guy, (b) an above-average conversationalist and (c) a novice but not-bad shutterbug, I had a feeling this multimedia, documentary-studies thing and I would fit like a glove.
And the first week, it really felt like it did! Being in class and meeting the other students, who are all focused and driven and supportive and fun as could be, I was like, “Hey, this glove is making me feel so warm and happy and excited!” But now it’s Week 3 and I’m all, “Is this the right glove for me? I mean, what is this thing covering my hand, anyway? Should I just swap it for an oven mitt, head back home and call it a nice try?”

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Week 4

Alison, writing

In honor of the new skills we are learning in class, I set out to make a multimedia piece for my blog post. Despite efforts to the contrary, what I created is best described as an homage to this week’s take-away message: sometimes you have to create not-so-good work before creating great work. There are no two ways around the fact that what I made is not so good (which is to say it’s bad). Writing an introduction to what should be just an audio/visual piece gets to the crux of my dilemma with multimedia: it’s not writing.
The thing about writing is that you make it up. Not the content of course, but the words. With the exception of direct quotes and facts, writers have the entire English lexicon at their disposal when creating a piece.

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Week 5

Al, radio

A month and a half into Salt and our brains are starting to melt.  Photo, video, audio, writing – it’s a multimedia cacophony on South Congress right now. To go along with the din, we got our social-media butts kicked into high gear at a lecture by Jeff Howe, that king of the tweet. I learned that, although I had been on Twitter for three years, I had never really been “on” Twitter. If that wasn’t jolt enough, according to various media panels at SXSW this week, if you’re still using the term “multimedia,” you’re behind the curve. It’s “transmedia” now, y’all!
And the projects are starting to pile on.

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Week 6

Smith, photo

Let’s see, when I last checked in here, I said approaching strangers and asking to take their picture made me feel like an awkward teen asking someone out on a first date. Well, a lot can happen in three weeks, because I now sort of feel like I just got back from a senior trip to Tijuana – not quite so innocent, a bit more experienced, and maybe just a little bit cocky. I’ve seen and done things I’ve never, ever done before. And I came back with some pretty good pictures, too.
 
Some of my classmates have started calling me “Smith 2.0.” It happened after that one weekend that involved two assignments…

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Week 7

Alison, writing

Early last week, Portland was on the cusp of spring—birds were chirping, the sky was blue, people even ventured outside without hats. I hear it was great. I enjoyed the nice weather from the safety of my apartment, busily reworking the final draft of my first writing piece. This left little time for multimedia, but my brain found a unique solution: multimedia dreams (which were really more like nightmares). While my  body tried to rest, my mind worked itself into paralysis over the shortcomings of my final multimedia project.

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Week 8

Al, radio

This past week a new tone set in amongst the Salt crew. I would characterize this tone as “panic,” while others would say things merely got “real.” Whatever you want to call it, things are ramping up around here. We’ve most certainly exited the practice stage and are full into our projects – still making mistakes, not getting called back and troubleshooting all day every day.
The takeaway from this week for me is two-fold: show up and keep trucking.

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Week 9

Smith, photo

With only five weeks left, it seems we’re heading into what I’ve started referring to as Salt’s “third trimester.” I feel pregnant with possibility, bloated with potential, and my ankles are swollen, at least from all the driving I’ve done in the last few weeks. I’m definitely on the verge of squeezing out something. I just hope and pray it will be a bouncing-new, highly riveting body of work and not… something else.
 
I’m exhausted, to be honest, but it’s the good kind of exhausted, so I’m not complaining, believe me. In the last week alone, I’ve hung out with beauty queens and a roomful of strangers dressed up as characters from Mad Men.

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Week 10

Alison, writing

At some point in the past few weeks, I realized I am no longer skimming the surface of multimedia—I am fully submerged. Our video profiles are due this week, our final projects are due in four. When I’m not in class, I’m conducting interviews, taking photos, shooting video, editing audio, and pondering the “story” in my story. Sometimes it’s overwhelming, like stepping into a raging river. Other times it’s disorienting, like when I look away from Final Cut and the real world is fuzzy, as if I’ve emerged from a pool with chlorine-clouded eyes.

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Week 11

Al, radio

This week was an exercise in calm amid a storm. And faking it until you make it. And a lot of other things, but we’ll focus on these two.
This past weekend I drove three hours north to shoot for our video profile assignment. Basically, we were supposed to find someone with a good story to tell – and then tell it. Sounds simple, right? Oh, dear goodness, no. No, it wasn’t.

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Week 12

Smith, photo

This is Week 12. Or more like, THIS IS WEEK 12!?!?!?
Just typing that fills me with terror and worry and dread. It also makes me wistful and sad. Because I can already feel that I’m going to miss Salt, big time. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I just finished a very rough edit of the audio for my final Multimedia project. The key word is “rough”…

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Week 13

Alison, writing

It’s go time. As in, go-do-work-all-the-time, time. Final projects are due in five days, which means the world now revolves around my computer screen and the seven minutes of my piece. Seven minutes distilled from two months of interviewing and photographing and collecting natural sound. Brutal.

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Week 14

Al, radio

This week looked like a lot of finals weeks I experienced in college – not a lot of sleep, weird foods, later nights than I like. But, instead of working solo in a study carrel in the deep bowels of a library basement, it was a constant collaboration. Those last couple of days, every other sentence was, “Hey, will you give this a listen?”

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Week 15

Smith, photo

And suddenly it’s over.
The last week or two at Salt isn’t necessarily a pleasant experience. It does have a very happy ending, but when I walked into the building on the last Monday morning, a few days before the opening of our show, the tension in the air was thick enough to knock you off your feet.

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