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, 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.

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…

creative writing, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, writing

Emotional honesty.

In my last post, I intended to write about, “Fear“…however, I ran way off topic. I realize now that it’s likely people didn’t know to differentiate this piece from the storyline of “Prologue“: they’re two separate but (for now) linked projects. The voice is different; the narrators are either different people, or the same person of different age; and the stories are different. I’ve just been attempting to cohere them into one whole (in order to get to work on anything). Maybe that’s a wrong approach. (They don’t even have to be in the same world.)

In actuality, “Fear,” is based further into this reality than the other story — even though this project might appreciate some abstraction and worldbuilding, as the players are fairly neutral but can be easily misunderstood if sticking too close to reality, or mythos from within a shared reality. There’s also the fact that I don’t think my own internal world is really represented so much, in Literature (or Science Fiction/Fantasy), but I can’t be sure, as I haven’t been an avid reader of Fiction for a very long time. I would call, “Fear,” an instance of Creative Nonfiction…for now.

My own scenario which was in the back of my head while writing, “Fear,” doesn’t correspond with any reality I’ve met outside of myself, so far (though it was inspired by a book I read as a child, called Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey, which I believe from a quick search, was written by Jamake Highwater). Within the book, the main character throws a hoop into the air and splits himself into two selves, then re-merges, later. (He didn’t really have a choice about it.)

For some reason, that had an impact on me, as a kid.

I also majored in Creative Writing as an Undergraduate, and so I know how to loosen the reins in order to allow (what feels like) freedom of expression, which merges into Art (when you really let the reins loose, and stop even trying to cling to shared reality). This, within reason (and EULAs). And also with some damage to the popular notion of my character, quite possibly. :) But it’s really, really hard to take risks in one’s writing if one is worried about how others will see them. The thing about being a Fiction author is that there’s the option to keep everyone guessing as to where that last piece came from… ;)

In writing, “Fear”…it’s very interesting what occurred. I found myself being able to write with emotional honesty without needing verifiable facts with which to structure and defend my arguments. That is, I can be emotionally honest and open to vulnerability (this is useful; whether it is intelligent, is another question) without being factually honest (except where it comes to the possibility of libel — which is another reason not to be factually honest). I can put forth crazy suppositions about how things are working, even if I know them not to be true (or, alternately, just don’t know them to be true), and it’s actually OK — because it’s Fiction! No one expects it to be real (or possibly, even defensible. Of course, if you go too far that way, you get into farce — or, propaganda).

That right there…could be a workable formula, for me, of Fiction writing. As versus, say, trying to prop up and support my own, “faith,” which is the largest flaw I’ve seen in the fictions (and reading habits) of others. It seems that when people read to support their faith (only), they intend to extend their provisional beliefs which they enter into in their reading, beyond themselves and into the real world.

That is, I’ve met people who wanted to live within the illusions of books. I’m not sure how workable (or healthy), that is. Although, I can understand it.

(I say, as I wear my ceramic ring. Actually, now that I look at it: this ring is black ceramic; black is symbolic of Earth, and the ring itself is made of Earth [zirconia]. Maybe it could symbolize, “grounding,” for me, as well as being my reminder of commitment? I like that!)

If I can keep some kind of boundary going between reality and fantasy, it’s likely that working with this thread could be very fruitful (and enjoyable/cathartic). It’s kind of my take on (what I think) Method Acting (must be like). :) As I wrote in my journal yesterday (Pink A5, 121): “The practice of writing fiction allows one to take on provisional beliefs during the period of that writing, and slough them off upon re-entering communal, or shared, reality.”

Due to my ability to seriously enter into these provisional realities…I might actually make a good author of paranormal/psychological thrillers. I mean, seriously. I would just need to be able to ground myself, outside of that. It’s extremely possible that I could do that with my art (particularly, painting; and within that, painting abstracts — at least, for now. Maybe I’ll eventually find a preferred subject).

After all, I’m well aware that my mind is likely my most dangerous enemy: what else knows how to get to you and is always with you? Making art derails its processes, for me (though I know it doesn’t do that, for everyone). I think that the freedom inherent in Art (for me) does this, though I’m not entirely sure what separates myself from people who compulsively draw the same thing over and over.

But that “emotional reality” without “verifiable reality” part of the equation is something I hadn’t really…understood, before. The last major time I wrote fiction, I was in Undergrad, about 15 years ago. I really didn’t understand it, then; and there’s value in admitting that now, because I get to look back on it with more experience (if I allow myself to do so). If I admit to myself that I didn’t understand, that means there’s more to learn. And, allowing myself to believe there’s more to learn, paradoxically means I gain the ability to find it.

creative writing, writing

Re: Prologue

Thank you all for accepting my writing experiments! To be honest, I wrote “Prologue” on the spot because I had an urgent need to write, and knew I wouldn’t work on it if no one could see it. (It’s probably me getting used to instant gratification.)

I realize now, however, that I did not work out the timeline in advance, and that I skip forward from my own familiarity with the early Web through early “gay”-rights years, and then seem to jump forward to the current apocalyptic scenario of climate change and pandemic, while dropping 15 years off of my narrator’s age (as compared with my own experiential perspective).

That means that should I continue the story in that framework, it will be an alternate timeline…one in which we’re 15 years in the past and still experiencing trauma via our environments. That also means that I might be looking at the CFC/Ozone Hole scenario gone uncorrected; which, most strikingly to my mind, mimics what I have had to do recently, with becoming nocturnal. That is, if we had not stopped using CFCs, the ozone layer would likely have eroded to the point where skin cancer rates would have jumped, crops would have burned and failed, and it’s probable we would have had to become active at night to avoid the sun in the daytime.

That’s not to mention the ramifications of what would happen if we allowed DDT to continue killing top predators. Then there is the drought I lived through in California in the early to mid-1980’s, which it seems everyone is used to, now. (We’ve gotten better at water conservation, since then, at least in California [though not so much in agriculture]…unless you look at the newer practice of hydraulic fracturing poisoning the groundwater. I don’t know if that is happening in this state, however.)

But I’m not aiming to get into worldbuilding. I’ve tried it…I don’t really like to do it. Maybe it’s because I was doing it without a focus on the main conflict; there are a lot of things that I could change, but I need a compelling reason to do so. At least, if I focus on minimalism and function in the story’s architecture.

I do have a couple of friends about 10 years younger than myself, whom I might be able to consult with as regards their experience of the IRL timeline…I haven’t, because I didn’t think of it. I actually don’t know what it must be like to have grown up with the Internet and Personal Computers and Web subculture(s) already established, or even having grown up in a time where gender fluidity and nonduality were recognized.

When I was young, we were still dealing with Fundamentalist hate, the AIDS epidemic, censorship of LGBT depictions, and lack of LGBT hate crime protections. We hadn’t gotten to the “QIA+” part of LGBT, and the “T” in LGBT often went unknown. We were, that is, largely operating on the basis of “sexual orientation” without realizing that the situation of protecting people from targeted emotional, physical and societal violence was not equivalent to toleration of perversion. (Not that I see non-Straightness as perversion, but the fact of the matter is that the mass of the hate coming out in those days had to do with [nominally] Straight people thinking that difference from themselves equaled Evil.)

I can’t even remember the last time I worked on the story I began in, “Prologue.” I’m dealing with some fundamental shifts in perspective and subject. There are so many things to work out in that piece that it will have to be rewritten from the ground up. I’m not particularly sure how best to do that on a platform such as this. I’ll have to age up my protagonist, which means I can’t let them shoot their mouth off like their 23-year-old self anymore. :) I don’t know, maybe that would keep more readers, heh.

I realize I left a hook in that piece, and don’t know how to satisfy it now without …well, let’s say that I made an attempt to write a beginning. The voice seems forced; the scenario is there, though making one of my characters an older transgender non-physically-transitioning person (for now)…that’s new.

They were always older, but making him/her transgender or nonbinary (s/he hasn’t revealed this yet) as versus a not-particularly-manly male with affections for another male…it kind of inserts a lifelong learning situation which could lead to the possibility of his/her empathy. The way s/he was defined early on (when I was a teen)…they were essentially nearly genderless, a creature of dreams and not, particularly, the human world.

That’s a good point to keep in mind, I think, although giving them a voice of their own also implies that they have thoughts of their own and interactions with the human world. (In earlier versions, they controlled the environment, which was their, “voice.” I may be able to work in a reference, to that. Of course, it’s referring to my possibly-obliterated 3.5″ floppy disk copies of work done in the 1990’s…but who’s counting.)

All of which is reminding me of an acquaintance. They’re actually really cute, but I’ve been too shy to say anything…which I bet they would totally understand!

Then there’s the role of the character who narrated, “Prologue,” which is separate from me but also an iteration of an initial main character/narrator, who honestly wasn’t thought through…particularly when it came to what he did when upset. He had always been sheltered/protected, so it is really unclear what’s going to happen if he gets pushed to his limits (though I did have a nightmare about that). I’m not entirely sure who he is, at the moment, as viewed by other people; though I have conjectures.

The painful part of this is that he does have an element of relative darkness (which I had been afraid to get into in my early work with him, on and off the page; I was trying to sanitize things). It’s likely going to drive the earlier parts of the plot. It will be interesting to have an intrinsically flawed narrator.

There’s another post in me, but I’ll type it in separately; it’s a different topic whatsoever. I didn’t intend or expect to get into this post, the way I did…

creative writing, writing

Prologue

I’ve wondered whether it’s worth recording any of this. Obviously, I’m writing here, now. So? What does that tell you about me, first off? That I’m shy? That I don’t want contact? That I don’t want to be seen?

It’s difficult even to commit fingers to keyboard like this…but circumstances have changed in my life…and…

Right now we’re having to deal with an agglomeration of consequences — some ecological, some political — due to what we have done to this planet and to the beings we share it with. Which has then circled back to us. (You mean we’re not excised from the world?! [We might be, soon.]) Just one of these circumstances would be enough to deal with: but no. Nah, we gotta have a bunch at once. It’s not living otherwise, right?

I forgot — or neglected — to introduce myself. Maybe it’s more comfortable to be anonymous. To speak without divulging the speaker, to listen without giving one’s name. The Internet went up when I was a kid. I’ve grown up on it. Needless to say, not all my text-based decisions were in good stead. From the first time I got a moderator called on me when I was 7 for correcting another kid’s horrific spelling. (Apparently, you don’t do that, even if it’s barely legible.)

But that’s nothin’, compared to growing up in a small town with little nutso kids who do anything they can to make you look bad. Thing is…when you grow up being different in the way I was different, kids assume you’re a predator. Like most of them even know what that looks like, right. Just need someone to victimize, or it ain’t living.

Peace? Harmony? Who wants peace and harmony? (What about continued existence?) Gotta find something to complain about, gotta make up stories about people so you can justify screwing around in their life, or the world can’t be right. Don’t seem too happy, or you’ll make yourself a target.

I’ve successfully made it to my young adulthood. Yeah, some of my older friends get put off by, “my intensity,” but they also tell me that I don’t know everything and that I’ll mellow as I age.

…Yeah, you know where I wanna go with that. I won’t.

Particularly, there’s someone I met a bit ago. I don’t even know how old they are, they’ve gotta be…well, they’re old…er (I know my mom got angry with me for assuming she was a year older than she was [like I keep track of my parents’ birthdates? Mom, I only know approximately how old you are]).

The back-and-forth has been pretty…well, the term for it in Japanese is fushigi, and I’m not going to translate it because it sounds stupid, translated. But I mean, it’s weird on my end. I keep getting these images in my head in their presence, and I feel like I know them; though that’s pretty, just, well…I guess the non-judgmental word is “fanciful,” but that is barely part of my vocabulary.

But yeah, it’s also weird how birds don’t fly away when she passes. Apparently, it starts happening at 35. The pigeons and the sparrows are no longer scared of you.

I say, “her,” but I don’t even know if she’s yet settled on a pronoun. It’s also hard even for me to use the right ones. I mean, I look, and they look male; I listen, and they’re not. But, I can relate.

With everything I’ve been through in my short time here, she’s been through worse. Like seriously, ten times worse, from her additional 30 years on me.

I’ve already checked it out…she said it was okay for me to write about what we had talked about in session (and later, outside of it). No, she’s not my therapist (though I do have one). But we met, well…

I don’t make friends easily — we met at a group. And yeah, boy, you know I’m fictionalizing this…

art, comics, creative writing, drawing, illustration, self care, sequential art

The things that bring me joy…?

Today has been another day in which M has encouraged me to think about what I really want to do, regardless of whether it pays, or not. I feel…kind of silly for what my mind snapped to, first…but it might have to do with the ethnic identity stuff that I’ve only started to become really conscious of, within the last 5 years. I’ve just recently started diving back into Japanese language study, again. I feel silly because so much of it is so basic.

If I hadn’t left my first Undergraduate University to eventually major in Creative Writing…I most likely would have majored in Japanese Language and Literature: I had a start. I’ve realized recently that my primary interface with the rest of the world (outside of family) is text-based. Having Japanese language skills opens another door onto the world that I only have really had a taste of, in English. I’ve only seen what others have seen fit to carry over into English, or which English speakers have produced.

My main issue has been what I can do with Japanese Language and Literature, other than teach Japanese…or work in a place where my bilingual capacity would be needed and appreciated, like a Japanese food store (have you tried to read the cooking instructions on any all-Japanese packaging?) or tool shop, for example. Or, I could be a translator — although face-to-face translation might be difficult for me because of social issues (race, gender, etc.) combined with obviously not being an extrovert.

However…I’m seeing more openings for the possibility of bridging cultures, now. I’m extremely grateful for the influx of materials and culture from the middle and other side of the Pacific. It’s not out of the picture that sometime in my life, I may wish to travel or stay in one of those places. Not necessarily in Japan, but somewhere safe. Not crazy (like this place is, right now), but if I could find a place to settle in peace, it would be nice. Japanese language plus English would at least give me a couple of routes where I might be able to be literate and function, overseas.

I also believe that part of what I’m dealing with is influence from East Asia through my family and what of culture has filtered through to me in English; but not knowing in-depth any East Asian languages, and having my earliest cultural contact on my Japanese-American side being Nisei (second-generation) — meaning she was missing important information — I’m missing the representations of people who may be more like myself than I imagine, in their own words. Not that I have any pretensions of being especially Japanese-from-Japan.

I know I have been raised in California. My cultural background is thus, hybrid. But there is a lot that has been passed down to me through family, and some things (like how to tie an obi) that haven’t been.

I believe I rejected wearing a maru obi at a young age because it restricted my movement. (Rage at constricting, restricting, and unnecessarily revealing clothing, has been a theme throughout my life.) Of course, the other Japanese-American kids at school probably knew I was half-dressed when I wore kimono to school improperly. My family — my nuclear family — however, seriously didn’t know better, and I suspect that my grandmother not letting me know how important an obi was, was based in passive aggression. (There were race tensions.)

In any case, I still don’t know how to properly wear a yukata (most kimono available here are either yukata [cotton summer kimono], or vintage formalwear) although I have acquired a book on it. Something like a haori or hippari (both are kinds of jackets) would be of more use here, though. Particularly, a hippari: the culture is too casual for something like a formal black haori, unless we’re going to a play or something.

On top of having so many gaps in my knowledge of family (and my own) background, is my awareness that the society I live in now isn’t the best society in the world, just because I happen to live in it. (As well, I’m aware that my ethnic background isn’t the best thing in existence, just because it’s mine…and that my beliefs aren’t necessarily true, just because they’re mine.) So…I see ideas from elsewhere, and I get curious.

It’s nice to see something different! That may be an American appreciation of diversity talking, but it’s one of the things about metropolitan American culture in which I find value.

I had to stop this post a couple of hours ago because I was getting into how I might use the skill to support myself, and totally lost interest in this entry. To be brief: book translation. To move on…?

Earliest loves. First loves.

I still have an urge to make comics. I don’t know why. I don’t know if I’d still like it if I were doing it. My issue is that…a lot of the things I feel, I feel very intensely, and so it’s hard to tone it down, sometimes. (Not toning it down, makes it difficult to sit with those feelings.) I also don’t have a lot of social interaction, which makes trying to describe social interactions as a method of explication, difficult. Third, there are a lot of potential pitfalls in the graphic novel genre.

It’s easier to communicate ideas; but there’s also the risk of creating stereotypes, which no one can (or, perhaps, should) live up to. Then you’ve got kids drawing their eyes in extra big to look like the characters, and it just…it shouldn’t be about the images.

We’re more than what we look like; what we look like doesn’t dictate who we are; and real people aren’t idealized sketches. Real people aren’t the hype; they aren’t the conglomeration of the perfect character design and the perfect voice and the perfect hair and the perfect clothes to suit a certain concept. The strength of the narrative isn’t even always about the individual characters, but it can be about how those characters interact, and the world they’re in, and what they co-create.

But…I should try getting back to this. I did just purchase an apparently Non-Photo-Blue mechanical pencil (this disappears on scanning, or can be selected out digitally), and a couple of fat Copic Multiliners for dense blacks. The reason to use the Copics rather than the Pitt Brush Pens (they seem to perform in parallel, from what little I’ve tried to do with them) is that I know that black Pitt ink (only black, so far as I know) does shift a little, under water. Copic, shouldn’t (none of my other Copic Multiliners, do) — but I haven’t tested the heavy ones, yet.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that I can work pencils, I can ink; but I still haven’t gotten to the point of putting in graphic shadows, or color/shading.

I do, as well, have both a tablet and Photoshop. Not that I really want to try and produce screentones in Photoshop (or Illustrator — and not that I’ll necessarily need to), but I’ve wanted to make comic art. It’s the reason I have both of these resources. Once I actually make some images to work with, I can get Illustrator, again…but right now, it’s superfluous. I’m not to the page-layout point yet. I’m still in the Concept Art/Design/Scriptwriting phase.

And that’s OK.

My major issue is going to be whether and how to work with color…though I could do monochrome or duochrome, easily…which could be interesting. If I get deep enough into it…huh. I have just found, really, that I might want to use earthtone watercolor, as versus Copic. The Warm Greys I see, aren’t really “warm” enough, for me…and Copics are too expensive to settle for something I don’t want.

Perhaps Ultramarine + Raw Umber? (Is that latter one, the right name I’m recalling?) The two colors together create a neutral grey shade, but lean a little left or right, and you get…chromatic greys. They can be beautiful, and with these you can tip the color balance warm or cool, depending on which pigment is stronger. (It is ironic that Ultramarine Blue — at least my French Ultramarine — would likely be “warmer” than Raw Umber, because it leans violet…but then you add in Burnt Umber, and man…! I’m not sure what it would do [Burnt Umber is an earth red, while Raw Umber is bluer with yellow tones], but I want to try it!)

{EDIT, 9-1-2020: I was thinking of Burnt Sienna as an earth red; Burnt Umber is a rather plain brown.}

(For that matter, if I’m using watercolor, I have an entire arsenal at my disposal…though maybe limiting my palette could be useful, in the beginning.)

I could then clean this up in Photoshop (which might be easier than trying to block in color, digitally).

As for anything else…I want to be reading more, so that I have things to write about.

Sequential art plus writing plus reading plus Japanese? Is that what I want to be doing?

(I did mean to get into the fact that I’m attracted to working with color for some reason, but I don’t know why, and haven’t been able to place the venue for its uses…)

It certainly sounds like this is what I want. Even though part of me thinks it sounds childish, just because I’ve wanted to make a, “comic,” since I was in 9th grade (at the latest).

And, I suppose, I should not be afraid of, “illustrative,” styling…I just have to remember that I wasn’t given the gift of creativity simply to replicate reality…

God. I have the materials, and the time, and the preparation, to do this (well, mostly)…

…and I have The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Graphic Novels, here! (Just in case I want to research how other people have done stuff…)

creative writing, creativity, writing

Thinking about Web Publishing…

I…have I found what I’ve wanted to pursue? The possibility of starting a small nonprofit and running a site focusing on the literature of gender minorities, primarily for gender minorities…it didn’t come to me until last night. I have been awake since then, largely reading in the anthology, Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. It was from this, and from my work in Project Management, that I realized the group I wished to help most, to build community with, and to hear from. And I know there is a market.

I’m quite astounded. The thing is…I have the choice to continue on with XML and RDF and then on into more cutting-edge technology (which I don’t believe is yet being widely used), or I could branch off after XSLT is over, and put my energies into Digital Libraries. The latter looks like it is where I want to go; it hybridizes Collection Development, Editing, Humanities, Web Publishing, Writing, and Community…I think I’d be happier as a content developer than as a Cataloger (though perhaps not moreso than with Metadata — which I can find a way to work in).

I hadn’t seen the opening before, but I can help in this way…which capitalizes on my own strengths in Writing, Editing, Art, and Constructive Criticism. I know a lot of people who are gender minorities and relatively isolated, even within the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition, I can tell that a lot of us have some difficulty being seen by others as we perceive ourselves, and that can lead to social difficulties. I know I’m not the only one who uses the written word as my primary method of communication (it lessens the impact of my physical and auditory gender cues; and because I’ve been a Fiction writer, I have experience with altering my written voice). I relate to people through their writings more easily than otherwise, and if I look back over my lifetime…reading has always been richer for me, until recently.

This is…kind of crazy, but in a good way. I should probably bring this up with people; at the least, ask for contact information. There could be some issue if a personal contact wants something published which isn’t the quality I’m looking for, but that really shouldn’t stop me from pursuing the idea. I’m looking for book blogs, things people have recently read, and the places they get recommendations from.

That is…that’s Librarian work, right there. Independent library work. With a community I actually want to work with…

art, creative writing, creativity, writing

Getting off-track

Long version short: I’m waffling again on whether to write my story out longform, in prose — or to make it a graphic novel. I do think that no matter what happens, I’ll end up keeping Photoshop (PS), simply because optimizing images is so discouraging with GIMP 2 that I just avoid it (and I haven’t yet discovered other programs with a UX [User Experience] as simple as PS). That is an exorbitant amount of money per year, but it’s far less than keeping access to all of Adobe CC.

(First-world problems.)

The waffling has largely come out because of contacting people about the project and realizing just how much of a writer I am. It’s even kind of hard to keep to a regular conversation online because, when given the chance to think things through “out loud”…I do.

I…somehow don’t think that’s a usual trait.

I also realize that I have forgotten about my fountain pens. Right now I’m soaking three of them, which had either almost totally dried out, or were getting there. Two of my Pilots are in that batch (the Prera stub-nib and a Metropolitan), and the Noodler’s Nib Creaper, which is easily the most disposable of my pens, due to the fact that this is the second time it has dried out (tiny ink capacity + no airtight seal in the cap), and I may have broken it unwittingly. (On top of that, it’s hard to flush.)

Fountain pens have to be continually used to be kept in operating condition. I’ve just now realized how long it has been since I’ve used them. I’ve been writing online and reading and seeking out materials to trial, instead.

Amazingly, maybe so or maybe not (not), all of my TWSBI ECOs — with the rubber gaskets — are still in good working condition, though I haven’t tried the stub-nib recently, for any appreciable length of writing. This is the one that kept skipping (missing parts of letters) whenever I wrote on for too long…

But yes, I can see where I went on a fountain pen kick and then a dip pen kick and then an Adobe kick, and kind of lost touch with the actual story I’m supposed to be writing. That story, in turn, only showed up after I had been writing by hand for a while and pondering why it was that my content was the same, time after time. The answer to that was the condition that I was afraid to take risks in my writing. Also there is the fact that for a while, I’ve had the tendency to view my characters as “people” and hated to make them suffer.

However, when stories are based around conflict…it happens. Even if you don’t want it to. And the characters are better for it, I’d say. They can’t learn and grow if they don’t confront some obstacles. Plus, they’re never really, “dead,” if they were never really, “alive,” in the first place. Their life is from my life, even if their continued existence doesn’t make sense in the plot. ;) Plot is machination; character is essence with decision.

And if you believe that essence continues after death…you’re in a good place. I think that this is one of the lessons the current version of this story is taking me to — even though, yes, I know it’s fiction. My believing mind doesn’t know that, though.

While I’m thinking that growth out of overcoming obstacles may be a metaphysical phenomenon which kind of epitomizes life on this planet…(I’ll try not to get into it, but the system of multi-tiered and -branched worlds based on life lessons and quality of vibration comes into play)…maybe that sort of view will help me rationalize why I’m causing my characters to feel things that I don’t even want to feel.

Mirror neurons.

Oh gosh, how much of this is mirror neurons?

Anyway…I’ve been questioning whether it would help me to write in a notebook with easily removable pages, so that I can shuffle the different parts of the story — given that it takes place in at least two different time periods. Also, writing in a $2 notebook means that I don’t have to be afraid of messing it up.

But if I’m going to do that, it just makes more sense to use a memo pad with holes punched into one side, or to use my A5 binder, for now. At least then, I could keep things in one place.

That actually sounds good.

And while I realize that I couldn’t have come to the production of this post without my skill at writing prose…I have a feeling I’m going to go back and forth some more before I settle on one form for this project.

Which does, of course, mean that I can post supplementary concept art on this blog. :)

art, career, comics, creative writing, illustration

So scripts are easier to write than prose

…At least, so far. I have three solid pages of comic scripting to lean on in my drawing practice, and I’m very glad that I drafted out the core synopsis — though now I realize how limited it is. I’m wondering if working back and forth between image and text will help develop the story…my intuition says yes.

The major issue I’m having with the script is narration: lots of narration. (I’m very proficient at revealing story and character through monologue.) However, there are other ways to convey the same information. The thing about scripting, though, is that it’s minimalistic; so I didn’t have to craft a bunch of flowery prose for what is basically the next step up from an outline.

Working between image cues and words…I might be able to turn some words into images, or convey what the words convey, visually. What I’m getting at may not be really making a lot of sense right now, but please give me some leeway — it’s 1 AM here.

I’ve decided to keep some violence in this version, even though I’m not a fan of violence. Without it…the story feels like it’s a bit fluffy and seeking goodwill from the majority by downplaying the consequences of being different. With it, however, it’s solidly geared towards an adult audience, though I have at least two characters of complicated gender, now. That stuff didn’t really come into its own here, except within the last 20 years. (I do know, however, at least two seniors of complicated gender.)

I have actually finished reading the book I mentioned before, on getting published: this was The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman. There is a ton of information in this book, though I would say it probably is geared toward an English-speaking U.S. audience (and of that audience, particularly New Yorkers). I haven’t checked out all the leads in it personally, though (for one thing, there are too many to do so in such a short time), so I can’t be sure.

That book, however, led me to What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, & Business of Book Editing, edited by Peter Ginna, which looks like it will be pretty interesting. It is basically an anthology in which the writers are Editors, and gives a window into what being an Editor could be like (with the caveat that these roles are wildly varied). I’m not far into it, yet.

Now that I mention that…I think I’ll read some more before sleeping, and plan on doing some illustration work for tomorrow. Working intensively with text really makes me want to break out of it some way, and it could be the thing to spur me on to getting back to my artwork…