career, writing

Using your words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

career, psychology, spirituality, writing

Solitary?

Well…I’m not sure if this is a really truly great thing or not, but I think it is: I’ve been reading over a couple of books related to Linked Data and Subject Classification, and I’m getting an inkling that this may be my ticket into a real, non-customer-service-oriented job…

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been thinking about the level of demand there is in Public Libraries for staff to be brave in engaging with people they rather would not. That’s usually because said people create problems for themselves and others, and it gets to the point where staff can’t let the behavior slide. This is, realistically, the hardest part of the job — at least if you’re a person who tries to avoid conflict.

The issue I have is that not only have I been conditioned to avoid conflict (it’s the first rule of self-defense), I’m also not driven toward social interaction, to begin with. That makes the job doubly hard for me, because not only do I not want to engage people who are involved in situational problems, but I am not driven to engage even friendly people — at least, until I know them. I tend to be a solitary person: you leave me alone, I leave you alone. But that’s not an option when you’re responsible for the safety of patrons and preventing abuse of library space.

People have been telling me from the outset that I seem like I would make a good “Cataloger”. Unfortunately…I’ve never seen a Cataloger in action. I do have some good leads as to tools that are useful. And I may end up dealing with that $850 charge so I can play with Cataloging tools prior to actually needing to use them…which is, after all, less than 2/3 of what one 3-unit class might cost me with the University.

I also have been looking into Writing as a field, a typically solitary occupation as well. If I got into Academic Librarianship, Gender Studies is an area I’d be interested in (combined with Ethnic Studies, and Japanese Language and Literature).

Who knew there would be a demand for any of that…but if I were a Subject Specialist working within Academia, all three of those fields would be of interest to more people than myself. Particularly, Gender and Ethnic Studies are also interdisciplinary enough that I could bring in a lot of cultural material. Comparative Literature could use my (potential) knowledge of Japanese language materials and English-language fiction…though I wonder how far I would actually want to get into the latter. Fiction, you know. (I kind of get claustrophobic in other peoples’ minds.)

It has been a great release to stop thinking about, “having to,” compose fiction, as well; though my refocus — knowing I’m more drawn to nonfiction — isn’t complete, yet. I’m still not entirely sure what to do about my illustrations (except keep them as a hobby, or let them grow into Concept Art or Sequential Art, with the emphasis being on Concept Art, for now); and right now, the entire spiritual bent is a relatively newly recurring (even if inspiring) thing. Spirituality is something that I think I had been avoiding, through not writing.

I would say it gets twisted up, but it really only does that when I invest too much time, energy, and effort trying to figure out what’s going on, given partial information — instead of accepting reality on the face of it, or seeking help from others. I overthink things, that is. I’ve had that problem since I was a kid. The problem is letting fragments of stories (or potentialities) get me away from the main idea.

What I mean is that I get flashes of insight and then my discursive mind tends to complicate those insights. I end up going from something plausible into something that’s overtly untrue. That may be a weakness I can’t afford, if I want to be, or am, regardless, a spiritual medium. (Or, I’ll need to keep clear track of what I invent. I’m not certain the spirits had in mind that I would only speak what I know is true, when they began to deal with me…though I have been through most of my life, honest to the point of tactlessness.)

A bent toward truth and facts would also help me if I were an Academic Librarian…at least, unless I were an English Subject Specialist.

On the other hand…if I barred fiction from my practice…what would a piece of spiritual writing look like, from me? The possibility of that is intriguing, though I realize that it would probably also stigmatize me. (But if I had tenure, I wouldn’t have to worry about it, right? Ha!) That…that could be interesting!

What’s also interesting is that I’m talking about writing drawing me away from initial insight, when I’m looking to deal with written language as my primary mode of communication. I also regularly use writing to clarify my own thoughts and make sure things make sense.

I sense I may be confused, here. There’s good reason, that I’m not stating. Here. Yet.

It would be good to revisit this post, in the future.

I shouldn’t lock out fiction, even though it requires an additional avenue of study. There’s a reason it exists. Also, a lot of people read it, and it can be educational. It can be speculative and inspirational, and it doesn’t have to be rigorously verifiable…no one expects it to be.

Hmm.