Business, career, culture, LIS, writing

Writing as an outlet? as a profession?

I began this post late last night, then found myself wandering off-topic — into stationery, of all things. As I had, the prior morning, woken up at 3:30 AM and stayed up past dawn, and it was by that time around midnight — and I was actually tired, I decided to give it a rest. Or give myself a rest, that is.

I’ve been meaning to tell you all that my instructor let me know that Statistics won’t help much with data-mining. Well. :) My instructor also let me know that I had accidentally overlooked 2/3 of the assignment I turned in on Sunday…so I still have some work to do. Luckily, the class isn’t over for a couple more weeks, and all the due dates are, “soft.” The major thing I’m dealing with is how to account for multiple variables — that is, which variables to use at what time to get what information; and how to label data points.

As well — I’ve been questioning just how important it is for me to keep myself in at least 1-2 classes per month through the end of the year (though I should note that I’ll be in Vocabulary Design, likely until December). It is possible, that is, to learn via reading and study (and writing), as versus being in a class. What I won’t necessarily get are exercises and quizzes and due dates (or Certificates).

However…I’ve saved a bunch of material from my first Cataloging course (the one I didn’t do too well in), and I could easily review…at least, the part that has to do with Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Classification (LCC). A lot of the material for that is available online — and I should review it. Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), though — the tools for that are available only for a fee. I could do it, but it would just be practice; I’ve already taken a refresher course on that with the American Library Association (ALA).

There’s also the alternate option of getting onto LibraryThing…which uses an old version of DDC which is out of copyright (LibraryThing calls it the Melvil Decimal System, or MDS). I believe the DDC is currently copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). DDC is used by Public Libraries and some smaller Academic Libraries, in the U.S. Most large University Libraries, from my experience, use LCC: their collections are simply too huge for the limited number of divisions in DDC.

Yesterday morning, I started working through Rethinking Information Work by G. Kim Dority, and started the “Career Journal” she recommends. So far, I’d recommend the book to Information Professionals who are looking at job options (I know I’m not the only one laid off — or facing the possibility), just for the number and diversity of resources listed at the end of each Chapter, and in the Appendixes. (I’m on Chapter 2, and still have to transcribe my self-assessment.)

One of the resources recommended by Dority in an annotated bibliography is The Start-Up of You, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. Hoffman helped begin LinkedIn, the social-networking site. I’m still amazed at how many people don’t know about it. I was forced to sign up in 2012 when I began my Library Science program, but I knew of it before then.

Then again, back then, the Internet was almost my primary social medium.

I wouldn’t rank The Start-Up of You too highly, at this point (I’m beginning Chapter 3). So far, there has been a lot of talk about successful capitalists (I assume they’re capitalists) and how we can learn from them; and pushing of LinkedIn. I’ve been around a bit too long to really…take that seriously. I mean, the conflict of interest is very apparent (as my own bias, here, also likely is).

However, it does bring up the idea that my perspective, thoughts, and intelligence are likely my largest assets…when it comes to differentiating myself from, “my competition.” And research, if I’m looking at Writing as a field, is largely reading. Reading comprehension and writing are two things I do relatively well. Not perfectly, yet; but in comparison to many, I think well (even if I am, now, relatively hesitant to divulge where I disagree).

That is basically my largest, “competitive advantage.”

The thing is…it’s very apparent right now that the world doesn’t need another person to agree to everything and say it’s all fine, when it isn’t. That’s an abdication of responsibility. The kids in Flint, MI, don’t stop being poisoned by lead in their drinking water because someone says, “it’s fine.” Radium poisoning from occupational exposure doesn’t stop happening because someone says, “it’s fine.” Coronavirus deaths don’t stop racking up because someone says, “it’s fine.”

I think we can see a pattern, here. We don’t need to be told that things aren’t as bad as they are — we need reality to be addressed. Not someone’s faith-based fantasy. There is a distinction to be made between fantasy and reality, although the lines seem to recently have become blurred. Or, maybe in the U.S., to some people at least, they’ve always been blurred.

And yeah, that is the first time in a long time that I’ve actually written something like that. But things can only go so far before people start speaking up about them.

And no, I do not represent my community of practice in saying any of this. This is all me.

I’ve realized that I never really did a review of Toxic Archipelago. Brett Walker, at the beginning of the book, says that it goes to a really dark place. It’s really not as dark as Kate Moore’s Radium Girls, however: I believe Walker likely tried to protect the reader from the harshness of the realities of the situations described in the book.

For example, describing kidnapped Korean labor working in Japanese coal mines during WWII as, “forced labor.” I guess that sounds nicer than, “slavery,” even though Koreans still face discrimination in Japan today, and were the subjects of cultural imperialism (at least during the time of the 1910-1945 Japanese Occupation), which is not so different from what I know. (I also outright know that there is a lot I don’t know.)

But then, one could make the same case about modern U.S. prison labor: how things went from outright slavery to Jim Crow and then to the school-to-prison pipeline. To not delve into those other two topics (cultural imperialism and discrimination), right now.

That’s a really deep rabbit hole to get into, though, and I’m not as fully informed as I would like to be on it should I comment (further, at least), so I’ll stay away from it, for now. Though, the topics of Korea-Japan relations, and cultural imperialism (in and by various countries), and the U.S. prison system, all look like topics rife for research.

While it’s cathartic to be able to actually write these things, I’m aware that communicating anything in the realm of opinion inheres risk. (Communicating things in the realm of fact probably also inheres risk, these days.) However, if my value is in my viewpoint and my ability to articulate why my view is what it is; that’s also something to be aware of.

I have actually started a project journal, as well. Right now I’m not limiting it to either fiction or nonfiction, though I believe it will likely begin as a mixture and become more fictionalized as time goes on. If my past attempts say anything about this, it will definitely become more complex…which causes me to wonder if I should actually make an outline, or let things wander where they may…

Business, career, comics, LIS

Expansion and direction: reading, writing, and editing

Over the last several days, I’ve been reading a lot. Surprisingly much. Because of this, I haven’t been really in a mental state to write. There’s a difference between being in an absorptive state and a creative or responsive state, for me.

Since getting a handle on a cluster of related skills to reinforce (and these in relation to reading, writing, language, and books), I’ve been researching a number of different ways to make ends meet, if it turns out that Librarianship isn’t something I want to — or healthily can — do full time.

In part because I have an Undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I have experience which would prepare me for work as an Editor in the Publishing sector. I also have direct experience in writing as an art form (though yes, the majority of this is prose), which would help me publish as a writer in my own right.

The rest of my qualifications rest on what caused me to get the Creative Writing (CW) degree, in the first place — which existed long before I obtained the BA. It goes back to having been an AP English student (which allowed me to skip my basic English class in undergrad, as I had taken the AP test and gotten college credit), and prior to then, having had my aptitude for sensitive description noted by my 5th-grade teacher (which I remembered before I became a CW major).

If I worked in Editing, and/or Librarianship, and/or as a Writer, I could cobble together the means for a livelihood (as I’ve heard is normal for creative types) — even if two out of the three of those (Editing and Writing) were freelance. Librarianship could give me, essentially, a source of steady income and health/vision/dental benefits. Not to mention that Library skills make one good at research; and reading widely, plus knowledge of commercial markets and brand positioning, help with all of these.

Also: getting an MFA would likely open some doors for me in both Publishing and Teaching. Do I want to do it? Certainly so, if money (and time) were not an object.

I haven’t put all of this together, yet, but I’m a bit concerned I may forget about what I’ve been doing over the last several days, if I don’t record it, somewhere.

As an aside, I did find this article from LitHub on how to choose a medium for one’s story. Unfortunately, the amount of material on how to actually tell which medium to start out with, prior to having started, is sparse. And…essentially, difficult to gauge, without experience. As well — the author of the LitHub article wrote scripts for comics; I don’t know if he illustrated them (though his bio says that he at least had been a cartoonist).

I’ve just looked back at what I wrote as a bare-bones introduction to my script, and it really isn’t a big deal to convert it to what would likely read as paranormal fiction. (I must admit, though: I still need to do research on what distinguishes “literature” from “genre fiction.”) I mean, what I wrote isn’t a lot: it’s condensed and not meant to be fleshed out, at this point.

What I did realize, though, last night — was the fact that I could run tangential or side-stories as comics, and the main body of work as prose. I’ve seen some Young Adult (YA) material, existent both as graphic novels and as prose, work like this (though possibly not precisely like what I’m thinking of).

What I’m thinking of, specifically, is the Full Metal Panic! series. Of course, FMP!, as I first heard of it in the U.S., was known for making constant insider Japanese pop-culture references which I doubt would have translated well. Nor have I gone to the effort to read any of the novels. I just know they exist.

There are a couple of other YA series which I know also exist in comic + prose formats. One is Warriors; the other is Maximum Ride. It seems there should be another James Patterson novel + manga series I’m thinking of; is it Daniel X? Hmm. Possibly.

Anyhow…I know I want to get into comics, but I am also thinking that I should aim for a project that’s small and able to be accomplished with limited skills — at least, at first. It’s been a really long time since I’ve made comics, though as a kid I drew my stories out obsessively. (This was before they became long and complex enough to merit MS Word documents.) I do still have copies of this work: on floppy disk! (I also still remember what it was like to try and edit a novel-length document for consistency.)

Like I’ll find a computer that can read 3.5″ floppies and old Word files. Gah.

Anyway, it likely wasn’t even that good, considering I was probably around 17 years old when I wrote it. Not to rag on young people (I know Eragon was written by a teen) — but I wasn’t that good.

The biggest step I could take towards any of these goals is to keep on writing and reading. If I can find an inlet into the Publishing world, it would get me in there sooner, and without incurring an extra $22,000 in debt that I would have to expect, should I go for the MFA.

The fact is, though: I have chosen library work as a primary career option, which at least theoretically should enable me to be exposed to the works I need to be reading. If, that is, I can tell which they are. That in itself is not necessarily easy; Reader’s Advisory is something else I wasn’t really taught about in Library School. As well, the organization of fiction in most libraries, leaves something to be desired. I do have sources to look at, though, which should be able to help me navigate that.

I should also note that I may not want to go for an MFA to get into the Editing or Publishing businesses, without first having had some experience in the field (which may negate the need for extra formal training, or show me if I really don’t want the job[s]). I made that mistake with Librarianship: getting the degree before the practical experience, so I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the degree.

I am also, however, in a position where I may in the relatively near future, be able to run Creative Writing groups (giving me Teaching experience), or network with co-workers and find people who are already established Editors. If I network, I might be able to find someone to take me on as an Assistant Editor, which is basically an apprenticeship position from which I could step up to being an Editor at a Publishing House (or online; and/or freelance).

So…yes. I need to be writing, reading, and looking at jobs in Publishing.

That’s clear to me, now.

And it’s probably faster and more efficient, to network. But I feel like I have to get my knowledge together, first…like understanding the difference between a Copy Editor and a Developmental Editor; fiscal and other pressures on the Publishing industry; knowing just how much reading an Editor needs to do. Things of that nature…

art, Business, career, comics, creative writing, self care, work

I have more, and different, things to give than this.

I did finally take the leap today and started writing out a script for the story that has been gnawing at me since my young adulthood. Although it took a while to ripen (I had to get sufficient life experience to be able to write, contextualize, and understand the story)…the current story is, well, interesting. Though I probably overuse that term.

I can skip around in the story’s timeline, to tell it more quickly. At this rate, I’m not sure what I’ll have left to clarify, before long; then, I can work on fleshing it out if it needs it. (I was taught not to include extraneous details, a form of minimalism which I didn’t understand for a long time. I used it to good effect in my plot summary, though.) However, as I’ve said, this is a finite story with an ending. I’m not going to run a series on until it stops selling — sales aren’t the point. Experience; practice; and getting it out of my head, onto paper, and shared; are.

I’ve also found the difference in definition between, “comics,” and, “comix.” I’d be in good company if I really…utilized my creative freedom in a ‘zine format.

I’ve started to remember that I do have a personal life, ambitions, and goals, outside of my employment…which I need to hold onto. I’m not worthless without my job. I’ve just had so much anxiety recently, though — largely from taking work issues home with me, the stress of being on-call, and learning to drive — that I’ve needed to step back.

If this doesn’t work out…the job search will start again, and I will likely want to find a job in between the end of the last and the beginning of the next library stint. However…well, I know that the job I’m thinking of may be highly difficult for me, as it’s customer-service oriented. Because customer service is what I’m struggling with right now (that is, emotional labor coming from being seen and related to and expected to be and react as a “girl”), it might not be a good fit (unless I want to take a low-paying job where I can practice those skills, which will apply in any public-facing job in a Library. Of course…I’d prefer a job which was not public-facing. At least I feel that way, now).

The major difference between working for a private company and working as a Public Servant, is that in a private company, I can say, “no, I’m not going to serve you.” That’s harder when you work as a public employee, and have to tolerate some level of inappropriateness.

The upshot of said Clerk job is that I’ll make new connections, and be around artists and art materials — something I desire. Of course…my own background is more eclectic than not. I’m not an artist who has been able to devote a life to art…wait, unless you consider writing an art. Literary Arts, I guess I have been involved in for quite a while. I got a Bachelor’s in that stuff (though that wasn’t the name of my degree). Also, an Associate’s in Art; so…hmm.

What I meant is that I haven’t had the money or inclination to go to “Art School”. I mean, I’ve wanted to. Particularly recently (within the last decade), I did find at least one place giving an MFA in Comics. I have just known that dropping money on an Art degree like it’s nothing, hasn’t been a financially sound decision. But then, majoring in Creative Writing also wasn’t a good financial decision. I just didn’t know that when I got into it.

But hey. I have two AAs, a BA, and a MLIS…which isn’t a bad track record. It should prove to people that I can get through College and University, at least; and also that I can learn, and that I know how to learn. I can also work with technology. Even as much as I don’t want to, sometimes, it’s nice to be able to fix things (and understand what I can of how things work). It’s just that getting to the point of capability with that requires blood, sweat, and tears; and to be honest, I have only scratched the surface of dealing with this. I just haven’t wanted to look forward to a lifetime of learning new technologies in order to remain viable.

So getting back into Scriptwriting and Arts and Crafts…has really been good for me, in that I know that I don’t have to fall back on my Library work for the rest of my life. I was actually talking with another person about this recently (she volunteered the sentiment — possibly because she saw that I was entertaining the thought of eventually taking on the ongoing operation of a library Art display. It would be a Volunteer position, but that could still hold me over if I had to switch jobs and then re-enter the job market with little or no paid work). I think the other Substitutes know how hard it is to be in my position. It is a small comfort.

I also have the skill of journaling — I was able to get five pages of writing out today as to what was going on with work, and why I was feeling the way I was (to put it succinctly, I was upset very recently). That way, it’s recorded, and I don’t have to think about it anymore.

It’s nice to be able to do that with unpleasant thoughts and feelings. Writing has been a very useful skill for me, over the years. Even when it has shown me things I would rather not see.

Regardless, though: it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get on top of new job openings; and I know I can be more than a retail Clerk. Kind of like I might be able to do more than become a Public Librarian (though the pay scales and levels of appreciation probably can’t even be compared). The MLIS introduced me to a lot of skills which I don’t necessarily have to use here. It might be useful to look back through the classes I did take, and their applicability within or outside the Library world.

It also might be useful to get back into a Business program. But I’ll get to that if and when I come to it. It could be useful if I wanted to help a Small Business, like a bead or fabric store. Though at this point, they may eventually want to put me into Management. Right now, I wouldn’t turn it down; I have enough experience working lower-level jobs and seeing both good and not-great Management in action that, if the pay is right, I might be moved to do it. Before I left my last job (of 9 years) as an Aide, I did realize that I could become a Circulation Manager — if I wanted to be one — because I knew about optimal workflow (and about who wasn’t doing their job). But being in that position isn’t easy — the difficult cases get referred to you.

But again…that’s only if things come to that. In the meantime, I should try and, well, feel better, and not assume that this job is the only job I’ll ever get, or that it’s the end of the world if I lose it. That’s not a great bargaining position.

And I’m more than that. I have more to give, than that.

Business, jewelry, money, organization

Additional income stream?

Now I am, again, thinking of selling my beadwork. Not because I have to, but because I can, and just probably, should. On top of that, even though I’m getting paid more at work, it’s still not enough to survive on. I still basically have to live with other people, because it costs so much to live here and because of my apparent economic developmental stage. (If someone has used the term before, I’m not intending to use their definition; I’m just saying that I’ve never had a full-time job with benefits and a living wage. I still don’t, and I think that’s something I’ve just got to figure out or experience, and see if I can handle it.)

Over the weekend (well…my weekend, given my schedule), I went to a bead convention and stocked up on…a lot of beads. As recently as two days before the event, I had resolved not to go, because I knew I would spend. Then I was unable to pick up a Substitute position for Friday, and it seemed a bit serendipitous.

Am I glad I went? Yes. Do I miss what I spent? Not yet. I’ll still have opportunities to pick up more work before the holidays, and I still have more than I did at my best times working just above minimum wage.

I also spent about what I would normally spend in two or three trips to the bead store.

I suppose that kind of puts it into perspective.

Tonight, Saturday night, I’ve been logging the actual items I got and how much they cost. Yesterday, I logged my receipts (there weren’t too many). So…I’m beginning to see how I could or might make a database, should I care to. I mean, just for practice and kicks. I could have a table for suppliers, one for receipts, one for my purchases within those receipts, one for sales (that gets deeper, if I want to track and keep clients), one for cost and description of items, likely one or two for taxes…at least, so I think without really writing it down or planning it out or getting back a seller’s permit (yet).

The latter impacts taxes (a seller’s permit allows me to pay taxes after sale of my items, not at point of purchase of materials to make those items; it also can allow me discounts) and also the initial outlay of funds. Then there are other costs, like setting up a P.O. Box and a Web presence, and maybe finding a photographer. ;)

The thing with databases is that in design, I’ve got to look at desired functionality, first. Because I haven’t handled things on the financial side so much, I mean particularly where it comes to taxes on gross income (State and Federal income; M handled it), I’m not totally sure about all sides of this. That is, I’m not sure of all the requirements.

I’m actually not even sure if I should use Etsy or maybe put some stuff up there and have my own web domain, as well. A lot of people I’ve seen, have been using Square for payment transactions, which makes me feel a little better. I had seen a lot of negative reviews for Square as well, but…it is the Internet; not everything is what it looks like. I’ve also historically been looking at web hosts, which is, well, really important. I’ve had one in mind which uses Square, but backed off of it after I read multiple complaints about people having their Square accounts frozen. However…like I said, I’ve seen a lot of people using it.

There’s also the point that I tend to avoid Etsy personally, because my computer sometimes acts like it’s picked up a bug after I visit. It’s a reason I might not sell there, if I can’t even look at things without having to run a series of scans afterward just to get things back to normal. Since adwcleaner also started removing bloatware, I’ve also become wary of using that tool too much or unnecessarily (out of fear it will remove my utilities, although one of mine spontaneously started working again).

But yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you actually use your computer.

Anyhow. Tonight was all about trying to organize the table that looked like a windstorm hit it, and I think I did a fairly good job. I had to log things before I could put them away, or risk not logging them. Thus, not knowing how much anything cost — which kind of puts a wrench into my pricing, by my not knowing if I’m losing money or gaining it. I’m getting better; I’m actually attempting to log quantities now, along with prices. :P (I need both, for the prices to have any validity.)

I feel bad about this as well, but I may have to want to look for additional storage. I know a place where I can get some sweet little boxes which were $0.50 each, the last time I found them. The problem is that…well, what good is storage if you don’t use the things you stored. I mean, it isn’t entirely about collecting. But the things I have in the little boxes are mostly “bead soup” (mixed colors and sizes of bead, in this case), and they are, amazingly, some of the most interesting and inspiring parts of everything I have.

I’ve also got to consider taking out — I mean just taking out some of these vials of beads that I feel I’m never going to use, and re-purposing the vials with things I think I will use, or want to use. The question becomes, then, am I actually not going to use those other beads, or was it just a lack of artistic vision, or aesthetic error which caused me to cull them? Sometimes later additions to a collection will make beads that I thought I’d never use, something I would consider using, in an updated palette.

Then again, that doesn’t entirely justify having them take up space in my main storage. I could just as easily put those 10 grams of beads that would have been in a vial, into a plastic bag, and throw them in a different storage area…kind of like the surplus of size 6/0 beads I got a while back, which came in temporary sealed plastic (can I even call them bags?).

Since, though, I’ve actually bought pairs of earrings which were between $50-$70 from local artisans…I can see that if I make things people want (and don’t want to make, or can’t make, or which wouldn’t be cost-effective to make, themselves), I do have a chance of at least recouping my losses by selling beaded jewelry, if not making a profit. It probably won’t be as large an income stream as I would get just by being salaried, but I could occupy myself and build my skill — and not, you know, just have a total loss from buying beads with what I do earn from my job.

Business, craft, creativity, design, money, writing

What is it that I liked about Web Design?

Looking over recent job ads, I find that I have the beginnings of varied job paths — lots of areas to explore. The thing is, they’re lots of beginnings! What I have continuing practice in is, largely, writing. Surprise. ;) There’s that, and various arts and crafts that I’ve tasted…most of which, I’ve loved (I have the dubious distinction of being interested in, and wanting to do, way more than I can allocate time and resources to). The question has been, what it is that I can do with those skills that will make the investment of time, money, and energy, worth it.

I just got the idea of working the arts and crafts (and/or writing) into my immediate future employment plans, by seeking out employment at local stores, like fabric and yarn and art supply and bead stores. (I’ve recently been told that my parents have nothing against my taking a retail job, though that came as a surprise to me.) The thing is, my interest in retail is limited to what I’m interested in…it’s not retail for retail’s sake, it’s retail for community’s sake.

I don’t know if that plan is going to work, but customer service skills are of use in libraries, no kidding. Library training will also help me in customer service, it’s fairly obvious to me at this point.

If I’m planning (or hoping) to be a professional writer, like a copywriter (in addition to being a part-time library worker), it makes sense to keep up a portfolio site. I’m pretty sure I have several months before my creative writing site goes down. (There’s not a lot on it — I haven’t had it in me to generate fiction, recently. I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with not reading a lot of fiction, other than some literary magazine stuff.)

And, of course, what I do with a professional online presence, really depends on my Web Development skills. I’m somewhat torn between self-hosting and using wordpress.com, for that. I have experience with both; wordpress.com is convenient, but self-hosting provides many more options, including the ability to build the site from the ground up.

After I end this last Library Science class, I’ll be able to get back to my JavaScript course, and to my self-study (PHP, JavaScript, MySQL), although I’m aware that the back end of tech work isn’t my favorite place to be. I am also aware that I give up a lot of control if I don’t know how it works, and depend on a third party to moderate my interaction with it.

Granted that there are different levels of moderation. Working on the back-end of a site which just happens to include a WordPress installation, is different from trying to coax WordPress into doing what I want it to do, as my only option. It works, if you’re wholly focused on content, but if you want to tweak and customize everything…it’s more direct to just self-host.

Knowing at least one Web Programming language is the last key to my knowing if I want to work with Web Development at all, as versus Web Design or Web Production. I mean — you know. If we’re talking about the Web and its Webular Webaliciousness (okay, I’ll stop).

I do have issues with wanting to have as much personal control over my creations as I can. Thus, I can see the use in learning the back end of website production…though I think that the parts of making sites that I like…are the design of the site, and the production of content (text, images [when I can use image editors that are intuitive]; I haven’t gone into video or audio, yet). I still get a sense of accomplishment or something, when I see that I’ve built something new, and I feel the need to keep updating. In that case…constructing Web sites is like any other craft for me, only it’s virtual.

In other words, I have fun making the human-facing parts. The technical stuff, like the programming behind the scenes beyond HTML and CSS (which aren’t actually programming languages, they’re markup and styling), I’m not as into, largely because it requires the use of rigorous logic. I’m not entirely…satisfied? with logic. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’d rather be talking to people with complex minds, than talking to a machine which only knows two digits.

That could be it…

(Or maybe it’s a community thing here, too?)

I know there’s some pattern — maybe interest in the Humanities (arts, crafts, writing) versus interest in Computer Science? I’m not getting the connection totally, but it’s almost midnight. How can I expect my mind to function right now? :)

I’ll come back to it later, hopefully. :)

Business, career, craft, libraries, money

Making a living

It has been about 7 months since I earned my MLIS. I’m also now in the last of four short courses I’ve signed up for, in hopes of bolstering my Cataloging abilities.

The short version of the outcome of this is that I now know not to become a Cataloger in an Academic Library setting — at this point in my life, at least. I think that the way my mind makes sense of topics is not in line with the way Library of Congress Classification (LCC) works. Of course, not doing as well as I could have, could also be related to either carelessness or lack of familiarity with both the examples, and the Schedules. I believe there is a lot of truth in the latter.

Also, taking classes online kind of precludes collaborative learning, and asking questions as they arise. The good thing is that I now know what to expect, and I realize we were doing the hardest questions we could have done — the hard way. And…there was only one right answer to most of these problems, due to the fact that the test was using a True/False algorithm. Therefore, these questions weren’t weighted heavily, and I got out with a relatively decent grade.

The other good thing is that all the material required to reference as regards LCC is available freely, online. I also have copies of our texts and bibliography, so I have a base from which to explore further, if I want to. Which…I’m not sure about.

I’m pretty sure I want to get back to language learning, and my tech courses.

Last night I was up making lace, instead of working on anything that required intellectual effort. There is something to be said for figuring things out based on the space they take up, the direction in which they’re being held, their method of construction, and solving physical problems with fine motor skills. I just looked up the term, “haptic reasoning (‘haptic’, meaning, ‘relating to touch’),” which is closest to what I would call it, but I don’t think anyone else calls it that. :)

I should also note that I believe, at this point, that skilled manual labor (particularly where it comes to crafts) is one of those things that isn’t highly rewarded in the current U.S. economy. But I’m not sure about that assertion. (“Believing,” is not “knowing.”) I currently live in an area with one of the highest costs of living in the world (where a lot of people are being priced out and forced to disperse)…so I suppose it may be possible to do this as something other than a hobby, and survive, in other places.

Though I have an inkling that a lot of the stuff I do has been afforded (in the sense of “being an affordance,” or a choice made possible by the structure of the system) because of communal ways of life in the past. That could be in marriage and family relations; that could be working as part of a tribe. But if you’re dealing with capitalism and an individualistic society…where you’re totally depending on yourself to feed, clothe, house, and care for yourself…and what you want to do is craft, I don’t presently see it as a great situation.

Then again…I haven’t tried selling my beadwork on a massive scale, yet. But even if I did, as I mentioned; this is expensive to get into, it’s expensive in terms of time (looking at opportunity cost, or the cost of doing one thing when you could be doing another). Design work is probably the biggest use of time I have, as regards this — not construction, even though construction is an integral part of design for me. There’s also record-keeping and research, and materials acquisition…and the fact that small-business owners can spend upwards of 80 hours a week, establishing and running their businesses and markets.

Then, there’s reaching a broader audience than possible with craft fairs (the fair circuit requires a lot of travel), by going online. I had been looking at venues such as Etsy, and Amazon Handmade. Amazon takes 15% off the top of all sales (or did, the last time I checked), which is basically a really big chunk of the maker’s profit (which, as best I can remember, may be supposed to be all of it), and will drive up the cost of production and distribution.

Etsy is more in line with what I do, but the thing about Etsy is that price competition from overseas labor (where countries are working with labor or land economies, as versus information economies) also can drive sales prices down. That means that it may not be possible for someone living in an information economy to make enough money to make a decent living off of skilled manual labor, because prices are being undercut by companies based in places with lower costs of living.

Right now, I’m trying to temper the handcrafting work with information work. If I can be my own Web Developer, and in turn also develop websites for others, there’s some chance of success. The drawback, then, is being responsible for everything, including the chance that one’s systems and databases may be attacked — and most companies which experience data breaches, it is said, go out of business. That’s after having invested into their own companies. It’s a lot of risk, not to mention a reason to incorporate (which allows one to keep their own personal assets, even if their company folds).

There are a few (hypothetical) ways out of this that I can see: one is to sell designs, rather than selling finished jewelry, so one can focus on the design process exclusively, instead of materials acquisition and construction (which can get tedious). Another is to do this work as a hobby on the side while one brings in primary income via another means (as I’m trying to do with Librarianship, and/or eventually Web Development). The third is to marry and have one’s spouse bring in the primary income, leaving one free to work (I’m not betting on this). The fourth is to live with a group (of family, friends, housemates, etc.) and meet financial requirements (rent, etc.) cooperatively, which I’ve known a lot of people to do (and which is an option on the table).

What I’ve been hoping to do is to deal with the Librarianship as my primary mode of income, and work my interest in crafts into my job. This will, at least, allow people who can’t afford to get deeply into — say — beadwork, to be able to get a respite from the grind.

So in any case…right now I’m looking at working more with people, in a Public Library setting, more than working as a Cataloger. Because of this, it makes sense to learn (or solidify) a second language, and to deal more closely with honing my interpersonal interaction skills. To further the Technical Services angle, I can try and get back to my Web Programming courses…at least, after this next course ends.

I think it will be a relief.

beading, Business, career, craft, creativity, jewelry design

Showing up.

Well, I was able to restart my beading. I’m working on a project from (what at least feels like) years ago. The dominant colors are bronze, brown, and green, though I’m also working a little deep red into it, with some success. (Luckily, it doesn’t matter if anyone can recognize it as red, or not! It’s very subtle.) I am having a couple of problems, though:

  1. Just like trying to restart painting from zero, or restart writing from zero, trying to restart beading from zero comes with its own difficulties. I wouldn’t say I’m, “stymied,” just yet, but there’s definitely some practice that will have to come before I can get back into my stride.
  2. I’ve realized how core to my personality my creativity is, so it’s kind of…hard, after having been forced away from it (timewise), for so long.
    And, well, then there’s this one:
  3. I find myself more interested in this than I realized; part of the reason I did continue on with the Library training was to gain entrepreneurial skills. Actually, part of the reason to start the Library training at all, was to support my beadwork and jeweling. It’s not obvious, but being a handcrafter is not a lucrative position to be in; most handcrafters make poverty wages. Nor is being a jeweler, even though the items produced are essentially luxury items.

For the last two or three days, I’ve been moving things around. I’ve freed up a lot of space in my storage, more than I could have ever imagined. The major thing is having to depend on my own documentation to be able to tell what everything is and the cost of each little thing (which isn’t even possible to exactly know, without the initial quantities of each item).

Estimations are kind of crucial, here, when dealing with backstock which is not labeled as to its cost or value. With new stock it’s easier, but that data has to be recorded pretty much as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible, before memory fades (a lot of places don’t give itemized receipts). That is something I learned from an early Library Science class.

Particularly…working in a bead store or helping an established jeweler/beadworker/fiber artist is kind of a dream job, sad as that is. (I would also take fabric store or art-supply store.)

The illuminating part is that I’m more interested in doing informational interviews with small-business owners where it comes to jewelers, beaders, fiber artists, and suppliers, than I am interested in doing informational interviews with Librarians.

Essentially, I’m setting up to run a small business (which I know I can do now) at the same time as I’m dealing with trying to find a job as a Librarian. I’m not sure what liberties I can take in describing my current frustrations with my job, so I won’t. Given the last day or so of being sick (I’ll spare you the details), I didn’t opt to go in, today — which is good, because I was exhausted as it was. The weird thing is that cooperating with people at my job and knowing that I’m providing a helpful service to a community, is most of what’s keeping me there. And that’s bizarre for me to say, because before I started that job, I was basically a loner. However, I was a loner for a reason, which is not valid in adult society.

So I’m kind of dealing with this split but overlapping vision.

I’m realizing the need for cataloging where I got things from, the names of things, the locations of things, the prices and quantities of things, and finding quality vendors. That’s before getting to actually using the things. But it is typical in a small business (in this case, a micro-business) that most of one’s time is spent running the business, not producing the goods.

I’m actually glad that I have taken Business classes, in that way, because now I know that. If I don’t get a job soon, I’m now thinking about taking more Business classes to stave off loan repayment and sharpen my business acumen…though obviously, that’s a last-resort type of thing. From what I’ve heard, I should be able to make the loan repayments and cover them with my current job…we’ll see. I have Summer semester to work it out.

I also have heard that it takes an enormous personal commitment to establish a small business (and can take upwards of 60 hours of work per week [do I say, “hey, that’s just 10 hours per day”?]), but in this case it would be doing something I love (even if I’m not all that confident in my own creativity, all the time).

There are also the upshots that I have a good idea of the kind of work I want to do, where my niche market might lie, the tools I would need, the suppliers I would employ, the people skills involved (networking! How often can I be excited about that???), the community, places to learn, and ideas of places to start to sell (fairs, farmers’ markets, boutiques, flea markets, online). I also have experience, skill, stock, and tools. Which, particularly in silversmithing, aren’t really…things one would think of?

In silversmithing, it’s basically extremely helpful to take classes or apprentice to know what you’re doing, with which tools, in a safe manner…though it’s kind of a back-pocket thing for me, right now. I don’t want to do it, but I may need to, at some point: for instance, if I start getting gouged where it comes to buying pre-made components.

My main bead store for years consistently had overpriced metals, which I didn’t fully realize until I started making my own earwires. It’s also not difficult to hard-solder jump rings, but you need to know how to pick-solder, which I didn’t, for years. You also need to know how to quickly clean up and polish that stuff after it’s made, because time is money, and trust me, it looks horrible after having been blasted with fire.

(And yes, I did eventually look up how to do granulation, online: it isn’t looking easy. But I wonder if one could get a granulated-look from macramé plus bead embroidery?)

I think the major issues I would have, would be financial; like which web host to use, or which payment processor to employ.

So I know that I’m not going to be a goldsmith, and I’m looking at being a beadworker with the enhancements of fiber work and minor silversmithing. Basically, a major reason to go into Public Library work is that I’d be able to use my experience here to help other people, and thus have a reason to continue pouring resources and time into this current, “hobby.”

And yet, I’m spending so little time actually beading. I realized today that I couldn’t even remember yesterday (my computer told me I’d been off of it for two days, today), and then I realized that I had been sorting loads of beads into tiny containers for most of the amount of time I had been up.

Well — sorting and labeling. Probably like most crafters, I feel like I do more stashing than actually using what I have. In Art, we hear that most of the work is just showing up to the bench, every day. That gives the possibility of making, “good art,” but not the guarantee. The thing is, not showing up at all means there is no possibility.

Of course, “good art,” is subjective; “good design,” not to such a degree. But still…at least I engaged with my materials, and I can see pairings of beads jumping out at me, now (from colors I never thought I’d use)! Right now I have the forward side section of this necklace worked out; I’m not sure if I should be thinking of it like music with different verses…I just am. I don’t know if it will help, though.