art, beadwork, career, creativity, illustration, painting, writing

Wait…do I have, “artist problems?”

I started writing this post last night…and apparently the only thing on-topic, was the title. That happens when you’re up at 3 AM, I guess. What I had started out thinking on (when I need to be doing, not thinking), was organization. I am…having a bit of trouble with commitment to any one path, but that really has been my pattern overall, since I was a young adult. That’s why I majored in Creative Writing, and why I sought work in a Library. These things are not topic-specific.

As I’m thinking back on it now — I had intended to work with gouache today. I wanted to see if I could mix it with acrylic glazing medium to make it water-resistant. That…was entirely forgotten when I woke up, though.

  • As I expect to forget that I’ve purchased a book with the aim of learning how to design in beadwork, as versus copying others’ designs.
  • Or that a reason for desiring acrylic gouache in the first place, is to have more freedom in my work (via using opaque colors), in order to create conceptually abstract pieces, while being able to use my watercolor brushes and supports along with mixed media. The “acrylic” portion means, I hope, that the colors will not lift as gouache normally tends to.
  • Then there’s the fact that I am wholly intending upon taking a cut-paper approach to my journaling.

My mind was busy last night, you see.

Last night, I got my second stone ever, bezeled using beadwork stitches. It’s tough to be new at something, but then the newness was the reason I tried it. Making refinement after refinement on the same design — where you know the underlying mechanics — isn’t quite the same thing.

As for the bezel, it’s not my greatest work ever, but I was able to give it a shot, and that gives me a good basis for further work (I have points to work on, the next time I try).

I still have to end the second line of thread. My bead holes are filling up quickly via multiple thread passes, although that should stabilize the piece overall. It’s questionable whether I’ll have the space remaining to attach this thing to a necklace, however: I can see very clearly why people prefer to use cylinder beads (like Miyuki Delicas, Toho Treasures, Toho Aikos, etc.) for this, rather than regular seed beads. Cylinder beads just have a lot more space for their size than regular seed beads, particularly when you get down to the size 13/0 Czech Charlottes for the final rows…and have to use a very fine needle, possibly so fine that it’s difficult to thread. They’re also smoother on the outside, if you’re worried about contact damage to foil backings.

The good thing about this is that I can cut the stone loose and start over. What I need to watch out for is the degree of damage I’m making to the foil backing, which…seems like it would only happen in practicality, by scratching it with the needle. And then, it seems like it might only show with a relatively narrow bezel…not a beginner’s one!

I stopped last night when I jabbed myself pretty badly, and dinner had to be made. After I washed my hands, the bleeding stopped (I washed anything out of there pretty thoroughly: it didn’t hurt, toward the end).

Anyhow…I spent a good amount of time last night, looking for a planner. Then I realized that I could make my own with what I had, so…yeah. Time to get creative about tracking my creative time and projects. I need to hold myself more accountable both for what I’m spending, and for how much I’m not working. Or, at least, to build in some structure around it, so that I’m actually self-employed and not just being unemployed.

After I started getting into this, I realized I had enough markers and fineliners (and empty notebooks) to help with a Planner/Bullet Journal/Project Journal already. I did, however, realize that I can…well, make this more pleasant.

I’m thinking that time management and staying busy is probably an issue with most people who are attempting self-employment. I know that my own comfort zone is rather in writing and recording, moreso than in making art…but I realize also that there is some excitement in trying something I haven’t, before.

I wouldn’t have reached that point without having come to a dull point in beadwork, where I was basically working a process I knew. I had smoothed out production to the point that I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions…which is different than actively, you know, arting. It probably would have been arting, if I were looking for a way to make it better — or, at least, different.

But hey: I figured out a new clasp mechanism within the last three weeks. I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Anyhow…last night I realized that I am struggling to be an artist, and then I realized that probably most artists are struggling to be artists. It’s not a given that everyone puts art at the top of their priority list; I in particular decided not to major in Art, for multiple reasons (some of which were appropriately childish). At this point…I’m looking at the skills my training has given me in research, in reading comprehension, in composition, in entrepreneurship. I did not just study to be, “a writer.”

Writing and language are just different forms of communication which are likely better established, due to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press and then the typewriter and then the QWERTY keyboard. Also due to the fact that most people understand art like I understand music: intuitively, we know when we like something; when it comes to composing, though, we tend not to do it very well.

I suppose that maybe I shouldn’t mourn not having been in Art in my Bachelor’s program; the fact is, I have the ability to work on my skills, now.

I mean, seriously.

And while I would have liked to have completed a BFA from CCA or Mills…in reality, I would have needed substantial Financial Aid, and then I would have trouble paying it off, if it wasn’t in grants. I’ve been told that it’s very difficult to get a job in the field without another angle besides Art. Even competition for Community College instructor positions is fierce, if I wanted to do that, and I’m not the type of person who would be good at it. I would be too concerned about crushing little souls. Art Librarianship is another…highly competitive, route. But at the time, I had no desire for extended learning beyond my Bachelor’s.

So I went the route of majoring in Creative Writing…which also isn’t a rewarding path, monetarily; but it was an avenue of expression for me as a youth, and one of the only things that was constant in my life. As I’ve aged, the skills in composition that I have had have gone to figuring myself out, and to expository writing.

I didn’t know back then that I would have decades to find out who I was, and to work on the issues I had against myself. When I was in Undergrad, though…all of that stuff forced its way to the surface, and the mode of expression it found was within language. Granted that likely most of what intrigues me about writing is the problem of expressing what the limitations of the language itself prohibit one from expressing.

Of course, though: when you get a handle on what’s happening with you and you know the causes and the reasons why, and how it affects you…you get to build yourself from there, without having to scream out through your paintings or your writings.

Also: when you get a handle on who you are…when you find security in knowing yourself, there is less need to do this. Not that writing is inherently an outgrowth of insecurity…but when you’re looking at a very-young-adult’s writings, it’s hard to avoid insecurity in the formula. Especially if peer abuse factored into that kid’s self-image, and they don’t know yet (or love yet) who they are.

And, you know, looking back on all this: I am thinking of making illustrated books. Maybe not just for adults. Maybe for kids, too. I mean, I do kind of have a thing about animated series, and a drive to avoid psychic violence. At the same time, I am an adult now, which…means things that I didn’t understand when I was 7.

I haven’t really — to my knowledge — mentored a lot of kids…but I understand what kids are going through when they ask how I became so stable in my perspective and identity. It’s something that I’ve gained over the past 20 years…the question is how to explain it so that kids can understand it. Understand that they can be okay in who they are; that no matter how much they admire other people — and it’s okay to admire other people — wishing you were them is not necessarily where you want to go, because it devalues yourself. That you want to be the best version of yourself, whoever that may be, because you end up writing your own character in this life.

Your unique character. That is what you have control over. You don’t necessarily get to choose who you are or what you have to deal with; but you get to choose how to be that person, and how you’ll meet those challenges. You find you; you choose to be you as best as you can.

It’s a reason I’m going back to beadwork as a relatively advanced practitioner, when there’s so much more information I can find about painting. It’s also a reason I’m seeking out books for the intermediate-to-experienced crowd who want to know how to design, not just follow other peoples’ designs.

That’s actually…quite a possibility. I hadn’t thought of doing it because I can’t imagine having an easy time being — well, an adult person — and helping to write and illustrate a children’s book. But it’s possible to reach those little kids for whom that book will be their favorite book, and they’ll remember it long after. If I don’t write it, that never gets the chance to happen.

There have been more obnoxious Children’s writers…

In any case…these are all great dreams, but then what am I doing with my time? Living? That’s all? Ha! Yes, I’m savoring my time with family.

Because.

And no, I am never planning on being a Children’s Librarian. Nor am I the marrying or childbearing type. What I can do is help my communities, and youth happen to also be members of those communities. When I was young, I didn’t know about gender diversity. It would have helped.

Anyhow, as regards my orientation towards Art, and the struggle to maintain it: I have trained for a gainful second career through which to finance my life. I had forgotten that the promise of the ability to practice Art was one of my primary drives in persisting and succeeding in the Master’s Program. I’m not in Library Science because Library Science exists. There exist the food and housing and clothing and utilities and transportation motives.

In practicality, I’ve been unemployed for 10 months. It’s likely okay, now, for me to get back to my — actual — work…the reason I have done the other work

art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

career, writing

Using your words

When you know you’re in the right, but claiming the ability to act as a full person still takes bravery.

Over…likely, the past month, my efforts have shifted from honing my writing skills, to craft and design. I have realized that becoming a freelance writer is more than within my grasp. I am more than capable. The question has been whether I want to take the repercussions of speaking my mind. The problem is, whenever anyone says something that’s important to anybody, someone else has a problem with it — because knowledge is power, and the denial of accurate, clear, usable, validating information is the denial of power, and denial of agency, to that person who finds it important.

And I know I can help the people who find what I say, important. I know, that is, that I’m on a side I can live in peace with. I didn’t always know that, but my view has gotten much clearer, recently.

I can see that when I was younger, I had a much more simplistic idea of potential anonymity as an author. These days, it’s very apparent to me that anonymity doesn’t necessarily exist, when writing for publication. Perhaps before the Internet existed, that was possible…it isn’t, now. Not without some type of global privacy regulations that could be applied to the owners of sites which distribute other peoples’ private information…and not without in some way disabling the tracking of aliases of authors who have not committed crimes.

(Of course, to some, the “wrong people” writing and speaking, might as well be considered a crime…and the Library of Congress is not exempt from politics. It is the Library of Congress. Not a national library. Not the people’s library.)

The obvious issue is that elements protecting the privacy of authors can be circumvented, and we trust strangers on the Internet, far too much. Tim Berners-Lee’s original Internet, that is…doesn’t seem to have included protections for information that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Perhaps it wasn’t intended to have grown as large as it has, or to include the people it does. As far as I can see, it involved utopian ideals, but…utopias can fail. Especially where failure was never expected; where the ideal was implicit that people would be decent and responsible, not malicious.

In other words…we do not live in a utopia, even given the chance to live in a utopia. The most brilliant and insightful ideas can still be bent towards destroying our own kind and utilized by the most inept, ignorant and callous among us — because of how our societies are set up.

What I’m taking as my provisional reality is the assumption that if someone wants to know who I am, that information is not impossible to obtain. There is also the question of whether I actually do want to be known for my ideas; if “good trouble” is not a bad thing to get into.

I am aware of the First Amendment. I am also aware that a portion of this society is biased against me because of what I am, and that laws are not applied even-handedly. They’re applied by people with biases, assisted by computers which have likewise been programmed by people with biases. Both those factors — and others, like poor school funding sourced from low property taxes which relate to intergenerational poverty and a history of segregation (among other skewed variables), reinforce systematic outcomes of inequity which are then blamed on factors such as race and essentialism: that what people look like defines who they are and what they can be and become.

The issue I have been dealing with is the relative peace of my life since I got out of the main fray that I was dealing with as a young adult. I’m moving out of the phase of being a student, into the phase of being a working adult, hoping to eventually become an independent working adult…which has other attendant, “issues.” Like the rewards (and penalties) of conformity, and silence.

But writing implies communication. Communication infers saying things that not everyone may agree with — at least, at first.

In essence, it ensures conflict. I’m not a person who seeks conflict. But I can see that there are some things worth fighting for, that the world can be better than it is; that we can be better than we are. In this world, change is preceded by conflict; and not everyone right now is living in a state which guarantees a sustainable, hopeful future.

I guess part of that is my utopian idealization. But if you’re going to have to fight, it’s good to know your ultimate goal. What you’re fighting for is one of those questions that can’t be avoided if you want to keep up your pace and your work. Even when a life of quiet, dull, closeted obscurity beckons.

DISCLAIMER: This entry is not meant to represent the views of any organization, professional or otherwise; I am representing myself, and myself alone.

career, psychology, self care, work, writing

Loneliness? Withdrawal.

There are a lot of things I could write about. The question is, what do I write about? What do I feel safe putting out into the world, at this point, which isn’t time-sensitive? Or, which wouldn’t put myself, my property, my employability, or my family at further risk? HA HA! you say. HA. HA.

I mean, there’s a lot I could write. Whether it’s self-serving to broadcast it or not, is another question. And actually, when I look at it that way, it’s obviously safer not to mention anything. So why this drive to do so?

Actual loss. Fear of further loss.

I suppose it’s obvious that I’m feeling a bit isolated, although I do still have my family. I just am worried that everything I have and have built will be taken from me. In reality, I have one thing that has already been taken, and that is my work and my income.

There have also been a lot of people dying recently, which hasn’t helped. I lost two of my older relatives within the last several months (I can’t remember when).

Right now we’re in a severe weather event…meaning my possessions (which I would use to further gain an income) are at stake. And if any of us get sick, I could lose one or both of my parents. That would likely mean either dealing with relatives (which I don’t want to do, I’m sure you can understand), or moving out-of-state to a place where floods are normal and I may only be able to get a job in which I can’t avoid feeling prostituted.

They say I don’t, “like people.”

I’m not a, “people person.” M told me this, today, and I realized that I have no idea what it is to, “like people.” I didn’t know that I didn’t, “like people,” because I didn’t know what, “liking people,” meant. I still don’t know what, “liking people,” feels like. I can’t conceptualize it, or its motivations. That’s probably me being on the “Spectrum”, though.

Yes, I realize there is more than one, “Spectrum.” I’m talking about high-functioning Autism. I know I am on that Spectrum, but not to the degree that I would be considered, “Autistic.” I was evaluated and told I had nothing to gain from a diagnosis because I had already aged out of all the early interventions that would help. That is, a diagnosis would just be a stigma to me with no benefit. (Of course, that’s before I entered my Vocational Program, which may have done better to heed a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…)

M and I also spoke about how I internalized **** that happened at work (that I still remember), and I know I don’t know how not to internalize it. I don’t know how I can live with just ignoring hostility and disrespect. When, “no,” is seen to mean, “you’re not trying hard enough, wheedle some more,” instead of, “NO. Stop it and leave me alone.”

And I know that I can be openly aggressive, when people persist in attempting to push my boundaries because I say, “No,” and they want to force, “Yes” (which brings up trauma around sexual harassment)…though I’m not sure how to value my aggression. On one hand, I’m standing up for myself when my messages are rejected as though I said nothing (or worse than nothing); on another, getting sued or losing my job every time a misogynist ***** comes along, wouldn’t be the best thing?

And then there’s the question of whether I should grit my teeth and try and be polite (and be dishonest to be polite, which has not been my way) when my emotions honestly make me want to do much worse (and wish I was a 240-pound 6-foot-plus man so I could do so).

But these guys (they’re almost all guys) can’t see the warning signs. Maybe they think no one they categorize as a woman can or should ever get angry, let alone at them, and they assume from visual pattern-matching that I’m a (heterosexual, cisgender) woman. Or, as they would put it, “girl.” Which can make me angry, depending on the level of respect and self-definition they afford to people they see as, “girls,” which usually isn’t a lot.

So. No service jobs.

Do what I …love?

M wants me to find what I love to do and then do it, regardless of how much income it pulls in. And not focus on my shortcomings, because it is not in my nature to be a good social services worker. Which is, you know, never the reason I started working at the Library.

Right now, I’m thinking: Beadwork and Writing. And maybe Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, or Taxonomy development. Maybe later, Translation. Maybe also later: Web Development.

I’ve come to what feels right (at least in theory) about what to do with the Creative Writing tangent. I’m not going to hide my work until I have a full manuscript (to try and sell First Publication Rights to a Publishing House). I’ll be developing this in a mixture of online and offline work, with the possibility of self-publishing and Web distribution, later.

I think that doing things that way will maximize the benefits I’d accrue, and the accountability to do the work. What I wouldn’t accrue would be in-house professional editing, academic prestige, and help with marketing and distribution. (But hey: I’ve seen some pretty interesting self-published books.)

The question is also, distribution to where, when it seems most book sales take place online now, and work is increasingly becoming digital in nature. Also: editors can be hired, and making a name for myself online before fully entering the stage, is marketing.

Digital Publishing, Print-On-Demand. Financial Models.

There is a metadata schema (TEI, or Text Encoding Initiative), which I could use to code an electronic text in XML. Doing that would give me practice in coding (and navigating) TEI-XML using an XML editor and XPath.

Of course, how to convert XML to HTML is something I don’t yet know how to do; I only know that it’s possible using XSLT. Neither do I see any advantage or efficiency to this, other than teaching myself XSLT, XPath, and TEI-XML. I mean, I might as well hard-code in HTML, to begin with.

I also see that Kindle doesn’t support TEI; I’d likely have to then convert my HTML into a proprietary format of Amazon’s. Or import a DOCX. That’s if I want my work to be able to be purchased and read on Kindle. On the other hand, nothing says that I have to use Word to develop the text; just to submit it — if I go that route. My issue is suspected ugly code after conversion.

That’s only if I want to take payment for the download. Which isn’t my only financial model, but it probably is the one which, along with Print-On-Demand, would generate the most income. And income is nice, for work done.

And then, POD may outlast any digital encoding scheme. I probably would also only have to submit a DOCX for that, as well. I could use InDesign, but it’s probably not needed or expected. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing any fancy formatting.

There’s also the option of just posting at WordPress.com for free public access + the sale of extra materials (tangential short stories, illustrations). The site templates are pretty awesome on my tablet, and it would be easier to keep it updated, as the host takes care of the back-end maintenance. The major drawback is sanitization and censorship, plus the cost to remove the ads…none of which I would like to engage in. I mean, I have to bleep myself regularly here. It’s a big reason I moved offline.

I believe this is not an issue if I’m self-hosted. However…then I have to be a Full-Stack Developer plus being a Web Content Producer. I know; I’ve done it.

Yeah, so…write the thing first, right? ;D

career, creative writing, creativity, self care, writing

Maybe not to the level of a Professional Editor…

Yesterday, I was able to take a couple of my more creative posts from here, and begin writing out second drafts. Of course, I woke up at about 1:30 AM yesterday morning…and stayed up until 8:30 AM…writing. Right? The time can pass very quickly, when I’m doing that. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m relatively okay with hearing the clock announce the hour on the hour, every hour…

The only reason I didn’t keep going with the writing, was concern that my body wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. I wrote, in total, about eight pages in longhand…in one of my worst-quality notebooks, so I wouldn’t feel bad for having wasted paper. ;) I haven’t heard of anyone getting carpal tunnel syndrome from writing by hand (neither has anyone else around me), but I could feel things starting to turn against me (particularly, tension in my wrist), so I stopped.

That writing session was very therapeutic. I was actually feeling — I don’t know, “normal” (?) later today. I am thinking this was because I was able to get through my “block” and write out what I really wanted to write out. I was able to do that, in turn, by realizing what was holding me back: the fear of being a unique individual person with a voice and influence. That is, someone who has value and power and can contribute to society and breathe life into ideas.

There do happen to be forces which would not like a person like myself to be empowered. But it is not worth it to be another person who tries to blend into the background and hopes to go unseen. That’s not…quite…living. That’s not my taking my full place at the table of Life.

I also looked at what my potential future would be — psychically speaking — if I obeyed my fear. I didn’t really like where that was taking me, so I wrote. For seven hours.

After all, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it’s experiencing it and doing the work, anyway.

If I look at the breakdown here, I have a little over two pages as a second draft, and six pages as rough drafts of various passages which grew from other material. Those rough drafts, in turn, will serve as seeds for further second drafts when I go back in to rewrite. I expect the pattern to continue; it hasn’t let me down, yet.

Right now, I’m waiting for the freshness of all the new material to wear off, so that I can return and rewrite it again with updates. I’ve decided to do this by hand at this point; revision feels like a different process when I work things out manually, than when I work on the computer. I’m old enough to remember when we used to write out our essays for school on binder paper in pencil, and then copy the finished drafts over in ink…also on binder paper.

Using a word processing program, one may begin a passage and have the option of never coming back to it to actively review or change it, again. Having to copy it over again, to physically form each letter of each word, forces you to pay attention to it — and to how it could be different.

Editing is a different process with a digital file than with a notebook. Or…with looseleaf. I know that to edit what I just wrote, I’m going to have to photocopy out the relevant text, where I can then mark it up and re-copy it over in a newer form. The only other way to do it is to work on another paper surface at the same time as I have the rough draft open. Or, tear out the written pages of the previous draft.

Yeah…did I think this through? Not really. But I wanted everything in one place, and there are drawbacks to that, as well as convenience and — possibly — organization.

There is one thing I’ve learned, however: and that is, while I may have written a lot, do write a lot, and will likely continue to write a lot…I haven’t edited, so much. I think a lot of that has to do with the blog format, where I’ve been depositing a lot of my daily writing: although I am moving back to analog for most of my more sensitive thoughts.

Having friends on social media has gotten me to realize the fact that there’s a difference between having and maintaining friendships, and having and maintaining an audience: your friends don’t necessarily want their direct personal messages to you to go unanswered while they see a proliferation of content on your channel. (Let’s not forget that on social media, the user is the product…which has been made clear to me from the fact that WordPress seems to neglect to upload my posts to my own Reader; depending on how many posts I’ve made, in what pattern, in which recent time frame.)

There’s also the fact that until recently, most of my other (nonacademic) written work has been journaling. Keeping a journal is good to maintain the practice of writing anything at all — which is essential when you want to track your thoughts for a big project, especially. Or, when you’re trying to break out of writer’s block, and you need that gentle daily nudging to surface the reason you aren’t writing what you really want to write. (It can take a while to get bored of, “today the world is ending again,” you know. But even what the writer doesn’t say [and I pay attention to what I’m not saying], sends a message to an alert and introspective person.)

When you want to write, and you want that writing time both to be quality (as regards content) and to last…you can run out of things to write about, if you’re just recording your day. It’s like recounting what happened at work or school to someone else, after-the-fact. If you can break from that diary form and go into something either more informed, or more imaginative, or more daring, there’s a lot that can be generated.

That is…Literary Arts exist. Or: language can be used in multiple ways; not just to recount and represent objective reality. Which…well, parallels my recent experiences with Visual Arts. I’ve also wondered why I would be learning Japanese language (or writing at all), if I were afraid to use it to actually communicate.

Anyhow, for now I’m working with Creative Nonfiction, which may drift into straight-out Fiction. But anonymization and embellishment should come toward the end, I believe. Not that I’ve had so much practice with that, recently…but it will give me practice in Editing.

Which I haven’t had a lot of since my undergraduate days, mind. The obvious thing to do is to join one or more Writers’ Workshops, in order to get back into the practice of giving feedback on others’ work — if I want to be an Editor and not a Writer. But it’s fairly clear that I’m much more suited to Writing, temperamentally speaking, that Editing. Everything I’ve read says that Editing is more interpersonally intensive…and one of my Professors of old told us, it wasn’t actually a creative field.

That doesn’t sound like me. I’m more solitary, studious, quiet. And I’m not a bad writer, actually: especially when I get angry enough to be absurd. My problem is breaking the insular wall which protects me from the rest of the world, and actually joining the rest of the world.

psychology, self care, writing

It’s OK.

It’s been a little over a week since I wrote here last, and more than that since I did what I did last night, and got a proper night’s sleep. Now, I’m awake…the sky is blue (! how long has it been since that happened?! or, well, since I’ve been awake to experience it), and I’m a little lost as to what to do with myself.

So, I’ve turned to my blog. :) Of course, after a week or so of messed-up sleep, I haven’t wanted first to turn back to my studies. I have, however, wanted to get back to my beadwork…

…and I’m hoping that the Messiah-complex that I might have been experiencing (not to self-diagnose, but it sounds familiar [to a point]), is wearing thin. I’ve reached the point of realizing that everyone’s on their own journey, not just me; that my story is one of innumerable stories not being told. Which makes me curious…

But that also means that I don’t necessarily…have to write down my experiences. I still can, but there is no obligation or mandate for me to do so. I mean, it’s possibly actually okay for me to do what I want to do, with my life.

It’s probably a good sign, psychologically speaking, that I’ve reached this point.

Maybe I’ll bead. :)

psychology, spirituality, writing

Stumbling into dystopia

Not to be, well — depressing — but I can feel depression setting in.

I’ve noticed an increase in my symptoms recently, particularly where it comes to difficulty concentrating, the ability to sleep, depressed mood, paranoia, heightened “spiritual” content to my thoughts, and catastrophic and magical thinking.

Of course, from inside, these all appear understandable, given the situation. Hey — they may appear understandable from outside. The issue is that things are bad, and my mind is making them worse. By doing things like making me think I have a calling as a writer and a duty to share my perspective…even if that leads to bad consequences for me. Because this is bigger than me, isn’t it?

The issue is, how much bigger? Are we dealing with local stupidity and greed and craziness, or is this a Universal conflict between good and evil? And maybe it’s not even just two groups. Maybe it’s a system of spirits, and I happen to be a member of a group associated with Creation (and, apparently, expression and language). And we have here beings who don’t care about the continuation of life on this planet; who don’t care about other humans; who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own accumulation of wealth and power. If this is not Evil, what is Evil?

Today it’s actually slightly cooler outside (at the moment) than it is inside, which is more than I can say for the past three days. Because of us, this planet is becoming a Hell. And we don’t know how much time we have to change that, left (if we have any, at all; we don’t know, but the best we can do is not give up) — at least if you’re looking at things like climate, “tipping points,” such as the point at which the permafrost melts and trapped methane gas is released into the atmosphere…which is a 25x stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And what then, is supposed to happen to cities like San Francisco or Honolulu, when the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice shelves fail and melt? If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fails, the global sea level could rise by ten feet.

I’ve been getting used to being active at night, due to the heat in the daytime…meaning, today, that I got out of bed after 4 PM to eat dinner as my first meal, instead of at 9 AM for breakfast (when my alarm went off). Of course, part of this is bad synchronization of my medication to my bedtime: I took one medication (a sedating one) after midnight, instead of 9 PM; and I know that when I do that, it predisposes me to wake in the late afternoon or early evening. Even if I do wake up at a reasonable time before then, my body just wants to go back to bed, where I fall asleep. For hours.

Not to mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2:30 AM. Just, could not.

Still, the lack of daylight — which has been going on for days, as we couldn’t vent the windows to cool down the house, due to the smoke from the multiple fires around the state — has an effect on me. I’m thinking it has an effect on everyone.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing…and not much else, except reading for my class and studying Japanese language (mostly, at this point, writing). I haven’t been posting my writing online because I’m having issues with paranoia, which — given the current climate, and not just the literal one — could be justified.

Oppressive, is the word. This climate is oppressive, and writing — in my case — is for the expression of thoughts that may not be able to be easily spoken. There are good reasons they can’t be easily spoken.

I’m also not sure to what extent re-engaging with fiction, or my actual thoughts (as unrealistic and idiosyncratic as those may be), is affecting this. Nor do I know whether the thoughts are symptomatic of the disease, or whether they’re driving it. I’m not sure if even entertaining my thoughts are leading to a decrease in my mental health.

Although, it is good to be able to get those thoughts out, so that they don’t just fester in my subconscious (or unconscious). At the same time, I think just being in this country at this moment is scary. But if we make change, we’ll have to make it together. One person can’t do it, alone.

I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve been dealing with my class where we were supposed to split up into groups of 4 or 5 for our Final Projects, by tonight. Over 1/3 of the people in the class still have not hooked up with anyone. Seriously???

I’m also glad that I know at this point that grades aren’t the most important part of life, but Withdrawing is not currently an option for me. Even if it was, I question whether it would be the best route: I may be becoming depressed because I don’t have enough to do. If I Withdrew, something worse for my life than failing the course, would have to have happened. And there’s a lot that is worse than failing a stinkin’ course.

Anyway. I’m getting kind of weary of this. And I’m not the only one. I can tell from the number of people I see congregating, maskless. The issue we have here — the biggest one — seems to be that people can’t act for the good of society writ large. “If masks will protect everyone else but not me specifically, why should I wear one?” they ask. Because that, “everyone else,” indirectly includes you. But people don’t get that, and I get the feeling that they don’t care about other people’s lives, either.

It’s a pretty sad state when your neighbors don’t care if you live or die. It’s possibly sadder if they don’t even care if they live or die. Faith is not meant to make a person lazy.

I do know that we here in California likely only have another month of heat to worry about (November comes after October, after all)…but then comes flu season. Which — if you look at it, maybe won’t be so bad if people are keeping away from each other, and we’re still able to maintain good hygiene. There is fatigue to be factored in there, however. We’ve been at this for seven months, now.

…And, the little I’ve read, says to brace for another year of this — that it will be likely around mid-2021 by the time we get a safe and widely available vaccine.

So we have to, essentially, survive another year. Alright.

career, libraries, writing

Strengths

I began this post thinking that maybe Librarianship wasn’t a bad place to travel in my career, after all. Then I wrote out a few paragraphs, and realized…no, this…Public Services is something I really shouldn’t do. I mean, really should not.

When I first started a job as a Library Aide, I got a lot of pushback from patrons (including the guy who tried to get out of his fines by doing a “Godfather” impression). I was thinking how, after two to three years, after I learned to expect the unexpected, that mostly ended. Even given that: in reality as a Library Assistant, I was only on the Reference desk for seven months before COVID forced the libraries to close.

That is, I didn’t get the chance for things to become easy. They were never “easy” for me, at the Reference Desk, because that work is basically having to respond to the environment in the moment, never knowing what is going to happen next. It’s fielding random questions that I almost never know the answer to, offhand; and even if I did, best practice is to look it up, anyway. The problem is, when you’re at the Reference Desk, the patrons seem to always expect you to already know the answer to their questions. Because, you know, you’re the Librarian, and Librarians all know everything. Well — no. We know how to help find information, we don’t already know it.

Of course, finding information isn’t the hard part. Even trying to figure out what you really need to know so we can help you, isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is dealing with disruptive and criminal activity (most apparently from what I can tell: stalking), protecting some of our patrons (like youth) from others of our patrons, and routine policy violations: e.g. eating inside; letting one’s “Service” Pitbull sleep in the middle of a walkway around a blind corner where someone can trip over her or step on her or run her over with a 120-lb cart (and we’re trusting her not to bite? Not to bite?); leaving one’s dog tied up outdoors where he’s obviously in great distress and crying loudly for you to come back. For 45 minutes. Or worse, running around loose and unattended.

(Okay, maybe I have a thing about dogs.)

Then there are the people who are lonely and want to sit and talk to the person who is at work and can’t leave the desk (and just assume that she also wants to have a conversation — with them — at that time); or incessantly ask for assistance they don’t need, because they want social contact. As much as I wish I could say that we aren’t paid to be friends with people (which feels one step away from prostitution/consort work), upper Management seems to have no problem with expecting people to do so.

Then there are the people with (usually, assumed) mental problems who behave erratically (and/or ritualistically) and sometimes in a hostile manner, depending on the brain chemistry of the day. Not to mention the ones that will comment on librarians’ bodies (is that worse?), or ask intrusive personal questions. I guess, “because they want to know you.” And they don’t think that maybe you don’t have an interest in giving out facts about your personal life to someone you don’t know.

And yes, I did break up with somebody who insisted on calling me a, “sexy Librarian.” That **** doesn’t help. I don’t get a buzz out of being called “sexy,” especially when you’re simultaneously misgendering and stereotyping me. You are supposed to know better. I imagine you smacking your lips, self-satisfied — I am not the person you want me to be.

That is, there’s a host of interpersonal difficulties that come with being behind that desk, which are made even harder when one gets into libraries for the perceived safety, the inclusivity, and the information; and not, so much, to serve the public (meaning, “everyone who doesn’t violate policy [regardless of whether you agree with policy]”). When that’s compounded with a lack of effective training from Management on dealing with these points (and then chalked up by Management to the employee’s [or Manager’s] personal failing when it isn’t handled well), it’s not a good situation. Especially when one asked for applicable training, and had it denied.

But seriously: it was only seven months. Although that list up there ^ is from 10 years of experience.

Well, actually, maybe it is a good thing that I’m not in Public Service right now, and I really should aim for Cataloging Librarianship. The thing is, I’m not sure to what degree I will be able to both handle a job as a basic, “Librarian,” and also avoid Public Service. Kind of like I’m not sure to what degree I can be a Metadata Librarian and also avoid Computer Programming.

Or how I can learn Computer Programming without my brain screeching out of stress. I’m not a Programmer. At least, not at this point; but I would suspect, not ever. Markup Languages (HTML, XML) and Stylesheets (CSS; I stopped at XSLT) are different, but higher-level functionality (XPath, and I suspect JavaScript) makes my brain hurt. Then there is MySQL and…I think it was, Oracle (that is, an instance of Relational Database Design & Implementation, and language to Query that database). That wasn’t great, either.

And no, I didn’t know what I was getting into before I got into it.

I’m thinking it has a lot to do with all the vocabulary getting mixed up together: entities, attributes, elements, relations, values, etc. And the teachers using the terms like we already know what they mean, when I have to think about the definitions of words within at least three different compound terms just to try to understand a single sentence.

Given that…I realize that, in contrast, I have a lot of insight into social dynamics, even though I’m not a particularly social person. Last night, I was writing a post on my own…facilities, and special knowledge. I realized that my personal experience with disability (my own, and others’), and my mental focus around the area of marginalization in general…probably would help me in a Public Services capacity. (Not so much as a different temperament would, but.)

I do suppose that with everything that I’ve experienced, I’d also likely be good as an Academic Librarian.

What I realized, when I was writing my post, is that I have deep, visceral knowledge of what it’s like to be a multiply-impacted minority in this country. It’s…something that I am not entirely aware of, until weighing the benefit I could bring someone else through my experience, and realize that — for something like Ethnic Studies or Gender Studies (and hey look, there is a Disability Studies [now]), I have direct experience of what it’s like to live through what a lot of people just read about.

That is, I forget that my experience could be influenced by others altering the way they deal with me because of my (ambiguous) race in addition to my sex in addition to my apparent gender (which is not my gender) in addition to my apparent age (which is not my age), while my disability’s stigma (after I reveal I have one) can cause fear in those who are supposed to help, and none of the random sexual attention from men on the job is wanted (that is, I’m not a heterosexual woman, and I certainly don’t want a man who starts off by playing power games based on who he thinks I am [that is, subordinate to him], based on my appearance).

Wow, that’s…clear.

Maybe I should just be a Writer. It’s a solitary vocation. Of course, though, it requires a second income. And also, reading; which is not entirely…something I feel comfortable prioritizing while I’m in classes, but it would feed my writing.

I’m having two issues with my writing, right now.

One, when I spend the majority of my time writing, I cut down on time that I should be spending reading in order to enter into dialogue with other ideas and other writers.

Two, when I write, I write some things that I don’t feel safe publishing (even with the First Amendment; this country can be grievously unfair when it comes to the full protection of minority citizens), and that stops the entire discursive process in my mind. What I know I need to do is write my way through that content, without intending on publishing it, so I can get to what’s after it. Or, develop what I’ve written before. I don’t even necessarily know what I’ve been doing for the last week, but I know I haven’t been working on any of my Creative Writing projects. Or art projects (other than setting up the new palette).

Ah, that’s right: I’ve been working on second language acquisition (which by its nature is very basic) — particularly, new kanji — and my class. Hmm.

Then, there’s the point that major life decisions have come up within the last week.

I’ve also been writing, here, and that takes more time than I realize. One recent post took five hours. I’ve been writing this one, since last night.

I don’t feel so bad, anymore. The thing is, in my evenings, I can write here or in my notebooks, and/or study Japanese language. In the daytime, when my mind is sharper, I should be studying Library Science. Maybe after that, I can read in English and, you know, develop content…though perhaps the book I’m attempting to read isn’t actually interesting to me, right now. Regardless of its disputable topic aligning with my interests.

I still need to be looking at Writing and Editing jobs. Seriously. Even if Editing is an interpersonally-intense vocation, at least I wouldn’t be dealing with the general public. I’d be dealing with approved Writers and other people in the Publishing Industry. Not that that would necessarily be easier…

…but I know Writers. I’ve been around Writers. I’m a trained Writer.

Maybe it would be. (There’s also the fact that if I’m an Editor, the authors of the works I commission probably wouldn’t be as likely to overstep their bounds — because hey, it’s hard to get a book deal. And Editors aren’t designated as, “Public Servants,” which some members of the Public interpret to mean, “sub-human and unworthy of respect.” [And we wonder why minority Librarians are apt to leave the field?])

So right now…I know that I want to be reading and writing, and learning Japanese language (nihongo), and working on my class. That’s enough to plan on — right?

Reading and writing could further my career in the direction of becoming a published Author, which could help me become an Editor or Professor. Learning nihongo could further my career in the direction of becoming a Japanese Language & Literature Professor, and/or an Academic Librarian with a Subject Specialization in Japanese Language and Literature and Creative Writing. And my current class allows me further specialization in Cataloging Librarianship.

As for hobbies: drawing and watercolor, fountain pens/stationery, sewing, beadwork (weaving, stringing, micromacramé) are current…but the only things I’ve been doing recently have been playing with pens and stationery, and trying to organize my watercolors.

As for specializations: we have diversity & inclusion — especially in regard to LGBTQIA, cultural and racial diversity, neurodiversity. Then there are color interactions & color harmonies, which tie together my hobbies. Beaded micromacramé. Jewelry design. Parapsychological thrillers. Library Science.

…and maybe…just maybe, I should work on sewing that blouse I cut out at the beginning of lockdown. Making and altering clothing could be a valuable skill, even if I can’t see myself as a clothing designer, at this point.

And, regardless…it might take my mind off things…

career, creative writing, libraries, LIS, psychology, writing

Hypergraphia?

Given that my last hard-copy journal entry was titled PPP (Pretty Poor Productivity, which I could easily manipulate into an acronym emphasizing more completely my frustration), it seems surprising that I would come back to the blog instead of doing classwork. Especially as we’re getting set up for another heat wave, to begin tomorrow.

I’ve been intending to get my non-deliverable homework done by the end of the night, as I don’t foresee using the computer in the daylight hours between tomorrow and Monday. I also don’t want to fall behind; it’s disheartening. Tomorrow can be used to catch up on my reading (I only have 20 pages).

Beyond that, though: there’s more to be done, really, than putting one foot in front of the other. Long-term…we’ve just made a decision which may turn out to be momentous in its impact on our lives, though it’s a fall-back position. I won’t get too far into it (in public or at this time, at least), but I wanted to note it.

Right now, I’m feeling distracted. I’ve just gotten through cleaning up a bunch of stuff in the craft area; M is there now, cleaning up her things. I have been…likely distracted since a second round of paints arrived, and then there are the pens I have been talking about, which have been getting attention since maybe Thursday? Then there is the language training thing, which isn’t bad…but if the backup plan goes through, I just might be able to take in-person classes, after COVID is no longer an issue. If that ever happens.

And yes, I do suppose it’s possible that I’m a bit depressed. It’s kind of hard, not to be.

I mean, it’s kind of like, “Where am I going with my life?” I know I have strong English skill and Art skill…and some Computer-oriented skill. But I’ve spent the last 10 years figuring out what I don’t want to do, following a career path that I knew nothing about when I chose it, because of a Vocational program which — other than helping finance my schooling and giving coaching for how to apply for jobs — really may not have been all that great?…

It was good to get me into my first job. That doesn’t mean much, though, except that now I have a track record and people who know me.

The major issue for me, if this fall-back position goes through, is going to be figuring out what to do for money. Especially considering that there may not be many non-service-oriented jobs in the area. Now that I’ve mentioned that, you may realize what I’m talking about…

…and it may be more worth it for me to do some reading on psychology and anger management, and try and adapt to the world, instead of being upset when people fail to live up to my expectations (which, with the general public, is a regular-enough occurrence).

If nothing were to change, I’d be seriously considering writing and art as venues within which, to sell my labor. I suppose I can still do that. It’s just that — and this is something I’ve been dealing with for a long time — working creatively feels like a waste of my intellect.

I think I’ve gone over that in my private journal, though. It could well hold for any job, though: that working as one little cog in a machine is simpler and a waste of my talent, when I could be working on my own projects.

So maybe I really should look at being self-employed.

I’ve been having a recurring series of dreams about going back into Undergraduate training and into the Hard Sciences like I thought I would as a teenager. I just feel like I could be helping to cure diseases or something, and instead, I’ve been dealing with random hostile **** being a front-line service worker.

But — as I have been learning with XML/XPath/XSLT — if I know from the outset that I don’t like the classes, what makes me think that I’ll like the work that the classes are training me to do? What makes me think, “it gets better?” Being “cool” doesn’t get very far when I seriously have to deal with work that I dislike (and Computer Programming, I’ve found, I dislike).

The most obvious opening, for me, is becoming an author or writer or Lecturer or Professor at the University level…that’s possible, and it’s even…interesting. But that’s going back into Academia. Do I really want to do that?

When the alternative is service work or computer work, the answer is yes; when the answer is art work or writing…there’s actually a complication which occurs.

Seriously, though: do I really want to put in another 2-4 years of work to gain an MA or PhD?

(If the question is if I would do that for an MFA, the answer is an emphatic, “yes”; but then I have to pick a field. Creative Writing, or Drawing and Painting?)

And then there is the possibility of studying Japanese Language and Literature, which…I would seriously, like to do. At least, from here, I think I would like to do it.

And if I’m doing that, I might as well work in a University Library and get free tuition. Getting an additional Master’s would clear me to work in the position of an Academic Librarian, pretty much anywhere. Would I really like to do that, though (especially given that Academic Librarianship also involves teaching at the University level)?

That is — am I actually OK with going through the process of gaining tenure, or traveling around until I can do so?

But that sounds sweet, guys. That really sounds, sweet.

Like hella effin’ sweet. I’d learn to read and write in Japanese, and my reading can enhance my writing, and I’d get to help the University kids, and live in University towns for the rest of my life.

I might also be able to focus on comparative literature; at least, after that’s over. Though Comparative Literature has never really been my goal, I’ve read into at least one book (Articulations of Difference: Gender Studies and Writing in French), which was what originally whet my appetite for non-English writing.

I can’t believe it. I found a bright spot! Through writing! I love writing! :D

There are also accelerated courses at the place I’m looking at, which sounds so good! And I could get to teach at the University level, about something I’m actually interested in!

At the beginning of this post, I typed “Hypergraphia” as the title. That’s basically due to the fact that I’m just pretty obsessed with writing, as I can tell from yesterday. “Hypergraphia” is a psychological term for the compulsive desire to write. I’m pretty sure it’s what was getting me through my Creative Writing training, when I felt like writing was one of the only constants in my life. It’s also likely what I was going through, as a teen.

Of course, though: if I had a mental condition which was causing me to write compulsively, and then that condition is treated and no longer rules me…the question is, what do I do with my life, then?

Learn another language? ;) Read a whole lot? Journal? Get back to writing for its benefits without letting it drive me into the ground?

I’m feeling so much better. I’m going to end this, here…

writing

Another fountain pen post

I am, slowly but surely, getting back to a routine. As though, you know, things weren’t…(I can’t use that word, here). For the first time in a long time, I seem to have adapted to things like not going out (and having a lot of time to waste!).

Things are getting done on my end, though fortunately or not, getting things done cuts into my blogging time. I was out of here last Friday, for example, because I needed to work all weekend on my Library Science course. (I’m not using accommodations this time, so I need to stay on top of things.) Then on Monday I was recovering, and Tuesday and Wednesday I didn’t even want to think about the computer. By Thursday (yesterday), I started studying again. Now it’s Friday morning and my eyes are burning at the computer, after I thought to myself earlier, that I didn’t have anything to write about.

I restarted my 日本語 (nihongo; Japanese language) lessons after I-don’t-know-how-many weeks, and I’m amazed at how much I remember. I still haven’t gotten back into the hang of repeating what I hear, every time I hear it; and I’m really not sure it’s necessary, at this point. (Words repeat.) I’m also starting to be able to recognize kanji along with (or even without) their readings.

I know for a fact that I’m fuzzy on terms for home interiors (I never really got “living room” vs. “kitchen”, for example: even though I did eventually find the translation icon), and might want to review that section (and write down the words, this time). Otherwise, even having lost that, I actually am making some headway (especially with number recognition — and the logic behind having different counters for everything).

The majority of yesterday…I mean, if I skip the Library Science studying (I have some things to do in order to keep up, but no deliverables this week)…has been devoted to playing around with my little set of fountain pens. I have a bunch of inexpensive-but-good ones, with a bunch of different colors of ink, and different-sized nibs. I’ve found that Pilot is my newly-preferred brand.


I’m actually appreciating my little $12 Pilot Kakuno with the Extra-Fine nib. If you want to use a lighter weight line or write anything tiny or finely, that’s one to go to (although it can have issues with paper incision, as it’s so sharp). The major annoyance I’m having with it right now, is capillary action drawing ink out of the grip section into the (transparent) cap, though I’m not sure it’s at all correctable, or just a design flaw. It might also be related to the specific ink I have in that one, right now (Iroshizuku Momiji, which is basically red with a touch of orange).

I’m also not sure how many of my other Pilot pens might have the issue, given that only one other of them (a Prera Demonstrator) is transparent at that juncture. The transparent Prera is fine. The design of the cap and section, and thus how they fit together, are just different. The Preras run around $30 to $40 online, depending on the model (Classic vs. Demonstrator) and your source, so Pilot could afford to invest in better design. They did, and it shows.

And no, I don’t know how different the more expensive models are, thanks! :) There is also the option of the Metropolitan lines (about $20 each), or the Penmanship line (about $10 each). They all use the same nibs, apparently (so says the Internet), though I haven’t tried switching them out.

There are also all the different colors of ink. I’m finding a theme in the ones I like…they aren’t simple colors, and they tend towards blue, green, and black for regular writing (meaning, not highlights or corrections). They also dry well — a reason I’m not planning on gambling with another Noodler’s ink.

I have Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses in a Broad Kaweco Sport (another inexpensive option, at least in the plastic models), which has a tendency not to dry. For a while. I understand this was likely done to preserve the interior mechanisms of the pens…but seriously, I want my ink to be able to dry. I write on the backs of my pages, and don’t want a ditto copy of my previous work, behind it.

I’m considering dumping out the rest of the ink in that pen and flushing it. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, after that: I’ve found that I prefer finer nibs, even though the novelty of the Broad nib was nice. It’s not so nice after your ink bleeds through to the backs of your pages and you can’t write anything small.

The Kaweco Sport was overtly an experiment to see whether I liked finer or bolder nibs, better — or whether I wanted a German pen, as versus a Japanese (Pilot, in this case) or Taiwanese one (TWSBI). They differ in aesthetics and intended end-use — though not as dramatically as dot-grid and lined notebooks!

I had to note to myself not to buy any more 5mm dot-grid or grid notebooks, unless I was going to use them for Japanese language practice, or drawings: 5mm spacing is way too close for most English writing (unless you’re great with a Fine or Extra Fine nib). Lines with 6mm or 7mm spacing, are workable for the size at which I normally write.

If you look at some kanji, though (try 語, for starters) you can see fairly easily why people who write in ideographic languages might prefer a finer line. It’s likely why the Japanese pens run finer in nib width than the German ones; although I do believe TWSBI uses German nibs. That would account for my TWSBI ECO with a Fine nib being about equivalent to a Pilot with a Medium nib.

I have tried LAMY; I gave an AL-Star away because I couldn’t stand being forced to push down on it and scrape it into the paper, to get it to write. It doesn’t work well for Japanese language in other than romaji, that is. For cursive English, it’s likely fine (or maybe would have been, if these things have to be broken-in. I don’t know. The one at the art store I tried later, didn’t have this issue; so I’m pretty much in the dark, here).

I also like it when the inks shade well…which is difficult to see much of the time (unless you’re using a Broad, Italic, or Stub nib), but some inks show shading (unevenness of color on the interior of one’s lines: reminiscent of watercolors) even in Fine and Medium nibs. The two I have in front of me are Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, and Ku-jaku; which are basically blue-black with a hint of green (in a Medium nib), and greenish-blue (in a Fine nib), respectively.

I’ve had very good experiences with the Iroshizuku line of inks, so far (no trouble with dead pens or stuck ink that never comes out — or, which seals the cartridge down so fast that it snaps off rather than releasing [this happened with a Platinum Plaisir to someone close to me — luckily, the Plaisir uses the same section and cartridge as the Platinum Preppy, and so a different interior could be swapped out with no harm to the housing]), which is why I decided to get another Pilot pen. Well, two. One of them (a Metropolitan Calligraphy Medium) was around $20, the other (a Classic Prera) was around $30. I was going for inexpensive + quality, which I’m primarily gauging as “pleasant writing experience.”

So far as that goes, Pilot wins easily out of all the fountain-pen brands I’ve tried. A runner-up is TWSBI, although I’ve never used a pen of theirs higher than the ECO, and so I don’t really know if they get better. I’ve read that TWSBI’s quality control on the grind of their nibs can be hit-or-miss (that is, they can be scratchy and need “tuning”, which I’m told, likely invalidates any warranty)…which is not an issue I’ve had with Pilot. Ever. Although you still have to find the optimal writing angle (called the “sweet spot” online), particularly with Calligraphy nibs. Even the best pen isn’t going to write well if you’re using it on its side!

The thing about the TWSBI ECO line: they have integrated rubber gaskets which prevent your inks from evaporating while they’re capped. Pilot does not have this, and thus the ink in the converter (or, I would assume, cartridge [I write too much to use cartridges]) gradually evaporates and concentrates, over time. I’ve had good luck with just replenishing them (or flushing and soaking the section overnight in Pen Flush, in the case of a pen nearly drying out all the way). I was also able to take a TWSBI ECO on a plane without it leaking, so there’s that, as well.

Given what just happened to me, though: I’m not certain a converter should be soaked in Pen Flush (it appeared sediment or bacterial growth was in the converter, after a while — then disappeared with use — but this is the same pen [Kakuno] which had odor problems [skunky smell], a while back [it no longer stinks]). For the uninitiated, converters just allow you to use bottled ink instead of snap-in cartridges. Eco-friendly, yeah? (You should see how many disposable pens I’ve gone through, otherwise!)

I mean, if you really want to get into it — I’ve seen worse: like the Noodler’s Nib Creaper I got which could not be sealed off against the outside air (the top of the cap screws on!), and ended up dying from a combination of that and a tiny ink capacity. Then I was turning the piston and something decided to snap (it kept “snapping” even after I replaced the knob, so I don’t know what was up with that, and can’t remember — I just remember seeing a broken-off fragment on the inside end of the piston. It didn’t help that I couldn’t see the other end of the piston). I am not sure whether I discarded it or tried to save it…but it’s not on my list of priorities.

The one Noodler’s pen (this is a U.S. brand) I tried that I’d use again is the Ahab Flex, but that one is a bit large for my hand, meaning it can slip and roll out of my fingers. The next step down (in terms of size) in that line is the Noodler’s Konrad Flex — which leaked. Prolifically. I’m not sure if I did something wrong (there is a slot for the nib I noticed later, which maybe I overlooked); I also never tried to heat-set the feed (as was recommended online). But seriously, I didn’t get this pen to mess with it until it writes.

Anyway. The Ahab, works; it’s also able to be completely disassembled, if you really want a thorough cleaning. I’m not sure exactly how a pen would get dirty enough to warrant that, though. (Actually, I do: it gets neglected for forever and likely should just be replaced.)

Pretty much, the biggest drawback to Pilot pens is that Pilot has a tendency to recommend only Pilot inks, with them. This is the initial reason I branched out to TWSBI and Noodler’s and Kaweco. It’s just that the Pilot pens write, so nicely.

So frikkin’ nicely.

Anyhow. I should probably go to bed, right now. :) I do have some updates as regards the potential debacle with watercolor half-pans (I really should have layered the paint instead of dispensing it all at once), but who’s counting? I also had a catastrophic paint-tube failure from my M. Graham Hansa Yellow on Tuesday night, which got me to realize that one 15ml tube is likely going to fill a full pan approximately four times, or a half-pan, about eight. (I got 3.5 pans out of it, and had already dispensed approximately 0.5 pans.)

The same thing happened with the M. Graham tube as happened a while back with a few of my Liquitex tubes: the part of the cap you hold, peeled off of the part of the cap that was screwed onto the tube. AWWWWW.

And yes, I do realize (now) that M. Graham may never dry because it has honey in it!

Disclaimer: These are all my opinions without input or compensation from any company or manufacturer. I speak only for myself and for no one else, and paid for these materials with my own funds.