Today is June 6th, 2016. Four months ago the second semester of Propel had just begun and I was considering dropping out. Now, four months later, I couldn’t be happier that I didn’t. Propel is a project based learning program that focuses on your passions, and turns them into a project for you to focus on all semester. Over the next five paragraphs I will go over my project, the learning process, my successes as well as my struggles.
For my project I decided to write a novel. My novel is called Cadaver Blue and it is about a boy who goes through a traumatic event that transports him to another world, where he proceeds to struggle with right and wrong, as well as a new found power inside of himself. I outlined my novel with a three act, nine block and twenty-seven-chapter outline. I ended up actually changing it from the original quite a bit but I’m happy with the way the book came out. I wrote my novel using a program called Scrivener that made the process much easier than it would have been had I done it all in Microsoft Word. Since Scrivener allows you to organize your work into folders and provides you templates for outlining. I wrote, edited and formatted the novel myself, and I printed with McNally Robinson, a book store/self publishing company located in Winnipeg.
It ended up taking me quite a while to plan out and brainstorm for the novel itself, I had to use many of the 6c’s we were taught through Propel to plan as well as write my book. Pages upon pages of character concepts, sketches, world building and even just scenes or ideas that were never used in the final product, were created. I had to utilize creativity for the ideas, characters and world of my novel. I had to use communication as well as collaboration since many of my ideas and even some characters were shared between myself and Rae Rivers. We discussed many of my ideas and some of his characters even make an appearance in my novel. I also had to use critical thinking for the accuracy and planning of my book. Many questions were posed about words, ideas, concepts, characters, plot and the world.
All in all, my project has been quite successful. I’m actually quite proud with the way my novel turned out. One of my successes is that my characters turned out very well, I was able to completely flesh them out and make them into memorable people. I worked out a theory for Magic as well as completely plan out the plot of my book, except for the ending which I only figured out as I wrote it. I’m really happy with all the different concepts that I got to put onto paper for my book, even if a lot of them ended up staying in my notes. I love the fact that I was given time to speculate and work on worlds and characters that I developed myself. As I was writing I made reference to a lot of my notes, and I also asked my peers a lot of questions about the concepts or ideas I’d already discussed. Coupled with simply pitching an idea or concept to them to bounce it off and see what their thoughts were.
Throughout my project I encountered many struggles and issues that I had to overcome. Initially I underestimated the complete time it would take to plan, write, edit, format and print my novel. The planning took much longer than expected, since I had to brainstorm the plot as well as completely flesh out my world, characters and concepts. I also got stuck quite often on writing the story itself. I had to stop on conflicting ideas, plot holes and even just filler chapters. I changed my story so many times throughout the writing process that it barely resembles my original plot summary at all. The editing and formatting of my completed manuscript was especially challenging. The amount of work that it really takes to edit and format a book all by yourself went completely over my head. Because there is a lot of work that really goes into it. Editing a book is a very big job, you need to correct basic spelling and grammar as well as plot-holes or anything you changed along the process of writing. As well as formatting, changing the size of margins, tabs, etc.
On top of that, not that long ago we discovered that it would simply take much too long for us to send my book to the company we originally picked out to print/publish the manuscript. So we found a more expensive one here in Winnipeg, thinking we’d just saved ourselves a lot of time. However, we found out that using this specific company to print would take a lot more work than we’d thought. The machine they use to print books is very specific and I had to go through the PDF manual and follow all of their instructions so the book will print properly. I can’t even describe the amount of formatting they expect you to do before bringing in your final copy for printing. I won’t lie, it was a bit of a let down to find out that I still had quite a lot of work ahead of me, even after finishing my book. I was still determined to have a solid copy of my book in my hands at the end of the semester.
Propel is an amazing program and I’m extremely grateful to have been chosen to participate in it. This semester has been filled with ups and downs, and I couldn’t be happier to have been here for all of it. One of my fondest memories of Propel has got to be at the beginning of the semester when we were all painting the class. It was fun and even though we’d all just met we were forced to work together, and we actually all got along really well. We got to play music while we painted and we actually got to know each other in the process. I think it was the start of everyone beginning to bond with each other. It was the first time ever that I’d ever felt so comfortable in school, it was kind of amazing. Here in Propel we’re all a big family and it makes coming in here every morning bearable. Propel has created the most comfortable workspace I’ve ever had the luxury of working in. The best part of it isn’t the bean bag chairs or the colour of the room, it’s the people that you get to work with and around. They make you feel accepted, like you’re apart of a family, which you pretty much are. That’s what Propel is, a big family.
To summarize, I’ve done a lot with my time at Propel. I’ve had successes, gotten through struggles and made a lot of memories. My project itself has been quite a ride and I’ll never regret doing it. Propel has helped me make my first real book and I’ll always be grateful for that, but I’ll be taking away much more than that since we’ve learned a lot here; collaboration, communication, character, critical thinking, creativity and citizenship. Propel is an incredible program and I really hope they continue to do it for many years to come. I for one, will always remember my time here and I hope everyone else who participated, students and teachers, will as well.