writing

Intentionality. Considering my (future) content.

I’m unsure whether this is a good thing or not, but I’m reaching the point where I’m starting to get okay with not chronicling my life, publicly. Of course, doing so provides me with ample opportunity to hone my writing skills, which I can appreciate.

In my Creative Writing program we were taught to write every day — not necessarily fiction, but anything we could get out. This was generally done so that by the time we got a really good idea for a project, we would still be practiced and fresh, not having to start from zero.

I’ve reached this point with drawing already, not having had the resources of time, energy, confidence, and motivation, to devote to practice during the last two years of the MLIS. Then again, drawing is not as integral to me as is writing…and my drawings have a tendency to devolve into practicing writing in Japanese language.

(No, I don’t know why.)

However, in my program, there was never anything said about writing publicly on a daily basis. In fact, it’s better not to publish online, if one wants to go through a traditional publisher and grant them first publication rights. Or at least, that had been true, before certain high-profile publications like My Milk Toof and 50 Shades of Grey. And, of course, if you’re willing to self-publish…there’s always Amazon. But then again…you’re dealing with Amazon.

One of the reasons I came back here, as versus using another social media outlet, is the fact that I tend to write voluminously, to the point that I have handled documents (or tried to, anyway) which have been hundreds of pages long. (That was in my teens.) Although I haven’t quite gone to that extreme on social media, it’s easy for me to write with that sort of flow. It’s also out of place, on just about every social media outlet I’ve known.

Not to mention that I dislike having my words picked apart by proprietary technology on a proprietary platform (where I have no control over distribution and analysis and am not being compensated for my content). But that’s part of what makes the Internet great, right?

There is risk that goes into saying anything timely and meaningful. It’s not too much to ask for something in return (more than, for example, specifically targeted advertisements).

I’m thinking of being more intentional about my writing, though in what sense and how, I’m not entirely sure at this point. I do know that I want to build up a writing portfolio, which will not be really…effective, without having done research and reading to enhance and consider my own thoughts.

What I can and have done most recently have been responses to my reading, though it hasn’t been contextual enough (that is, I haven’t brought in enough of others’ work), to really be considered professional. I don’t know to a precise degree the legal ramifications of bringing in others’ works, outside of the academic protections of Fair Use.

If I am dealing with academic essays, that’s one thing. I know how that works. But book reviews? Public commentary? Something to be published with a side effect of personal gain? For that, I’m uncertain.

I also haven’t spent as much time on each article as I’ve needed to; most of my work online is a first or second draft. A third draft or further could be advisable for development from the initial impulses to a fully fleshed-out work — at least for short pieces. Long pieces require more than that, along with being able to track changes (so that, in a fiction piece for example, I’m not unintentionally factually contradicting myself at two different places in the storyline).

I haven’t done fiction in months, and what I have done, have been thinly veiled exercises in observation. I want and/or need to get back into it; I just have trepidation over the possibility of encouraging unhealthy patterns of thought. How would composition work with a relatively healthy brain — not one that runs away on its own assumptions?

This could be why writers work in, “twists,” just to encourage healthy doubt. I mean, even in their own minds.

But right now…I’m thinking of using my desire to write, in my search for better employment. I know we were told that it’s difficult to make a living as a writer, but as supplemental income, it might be worth a shot…

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.

career, ceramics, craft, libraries, LIS, self care

I wonder if this is what all that fatigue was about…

…which I spoke about three weeks ago. I suppose it is possible that I could have been fighting something off for two weeks without getting sick, until my immune defenses lowered. I guess that means that when I’m feeling fatigued, it actually is an okay thing to get some rest. If I had done that, maybe I could have killed off the invasion (I’m pretty sure it’s viral) before it made me sick.

A bunch of things have happened since I made my last substantive post (the one before the post from earlier today). The one I’m thinking of is having been notified that I may be called in to interview for a Librarian I position. That, in turn, got me to restart my career reading. (I actually finished The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness the other night, which has a companion site, homelesslibrary.com. I like the author, Ryan Dowd, though I can tell we’re of different worldviews. I kind of envy his.

I also wrote in to the Career Center at my school, and was encouraged to push on in the direction of an Adult Services Librarian in a Public Library setting, with which the aforementioned book helps a lot. So that means…three places I’ve applied to have told me that I may be called, but haven’t yet called me (though I took a test with one, and scored decently); one was an overt no; one I have to reapply to; and one (the one I’m currently employed by) hasn’t opened their candidate list to the outside in a very long time.

I also didn’t get into the running for a Clerk position at my current place of employment, and think it may be because I have a Master’s in Library Science, although the form email told me it was because I wasn’t qualified.

I almost forgot to mention that another nearby Library System did send out a call for applications, but as I don’t yet have a Driver’s License, I was excluded. Kind of ironic that I would be considered for Hawai’i, but not considered for a place 30 minutes away.

I did just go and send in another Job Interest Card for Hawai’i. I know I have applied for one position; unfortunately, I’m not sure that keeps me in the running for lower-ranking similar positions. But I’m getting the hang of this job application thing, now; particularly where it comes to Civil Service. (Not that I’ve particularly thought through the ramifications of being a government employee!)

As for more reading; if I can tolerate it, I will want to get back to Conducting the Reference Interview, which I’ve planned to read only until I reach the tech portions (my edition was published too long ago to be current, there); and the book I have on dealing with hostile customers, by Robert Bacal. That one also has a companion website, not to mention two different levels of seriousness. It takes a different angle than the service-to-the-homeless one, due to the fact that it targets a different set of customer cohorts.

The big issue with both of these books is that reading them is actually basically either work or Professional Development, depending on one’s angle. I’ve been particularly triggered by Bacal’s work (in combination with what I’ve experienced and witnessed), though I did purchase the more “serious” version of the book, which is actually a workbook for those employed in the public sector.

They should both be helpful if I get a Librarian I position anywhere, though. Actually, they should be helpful if I interview for a Librarian I position anywhere, too. And I should remember that replaying rough scenarios in my head is likely worse than dealing with them, would be.

On top of that, my next Cataloging class is set to kick in, though it’s only for four weeks. I do, however, have access to the coveted tool that I didn’t realize I’d lose access to when Beginning Cataloging ended in 2017. I should make use of it, while I can. It would be a very good use of my time.

I also have the deadline for re-submission of that last application, and for submitting all graduation information, coming up. And I need to be working on my driving, again. I could have been in the running for a nearby Librarian I position, but didn’t have a driver’s license (which is probably necessary because the crime rates of the area make it dangerous to walk, at least at night). I’ve gotten to the point where driving is less scary and I have more control, but I still need assistance. (I have a tendency to hang a little far to the right.) Sunday mornings are perfect for this…when I’m not sick!

The other night, when I was pretty much too sick to do anything more than just read, I was looking through a number of books on beaded micro-macramé by Joan Babcock (the link leads to her website). In the end of her first book, Micro-macramé Jewelry : Tips & Techniques for Knotting With Beads, she writes of a number of ways to bind the ends of knotting, one of which is sewing (p.77). I didn’t even think of that!

So, right now, I want to go and try and make a bunch of little samples and practice binding the ends of them–!! I could use them as key fobs or zipper pulls or something, yeah?

I also looked her up on WorldCat — I’m pretty sure her books are self-published (the press is “Joan Babcock Designs”), so it’s kind of awesome to see that someone (or someones) has cataloged them. By the way, if you try looking her up, the authorized spelling of her name is “Babcock, Joan R.” You should be able to search that name and come up with at least the four or five things I know she has produced (she has four books and one DVD, last I saw). That spelling, currently, differentiates her from others named Joan Babcock, as one finds in a search on the wider Web. (Sometimes, that’s followed by a birth and death date, or a birthdate only, or more information about their identity — which would help you sort through all the other Joan Babcocks, if there were more than one who authored a cataloged work: in this case, there aren’t [as of May 5, 2019].)

There’s more I could go into on that, but I’ve learned not to expect people to be interested. ;)

I’ve also realized that there is no shame in going back to the craft books, when the writers of the books are still more advanced than you. I do have a little library that I’ve collected, over time; and while it is the case that I’m a relatively intermediate beader, I still don’t know everything. This is because there are some stitches, like odd-count peyote (I know how to do this, I just don’t like to) and brick stitches, that I haven’t put too much root into, as I haven’t needed to. Particularly, where it comes to making increases on the edge of brick or peyote stitch…I just am not practiced. I got a book specifically for this, though, called the Bead Stitching Handbook (by Bead & Button Magazine).

Sooner or later, I’m going to have to look through that thing, again…

The fact that I don’t know this stuff basically shows my own bias against making 2-D art (brick and peyote stitch primarily make sheets, which can then be stitched together into 3-D forms; the exception being tubular peyote). I know I can make 2-D art; for whatever reason, though, I’m not drawn to it as strongly as beadwork or ceramics. It’s actually a reason I can recognize, now, for having gotten out of silversmithing…in most modern work, we’re working with sheet and wire, or casting. Casting requires a lot of specialized tools, and I’ve never been able to really get behind flinging molten metal around in a centrifuge…or using oxy-acetylene to melt it in the first place (it can give you eye damage).

There is always PMC (Precious Metal Clay), which I’m now thinking I should examine more closely. Reason I haven’t is that it basically requires a kiln. (It’s possible to fire PMC with a torch, but I wouldn’t trust myself.) “PMC”, also found as “Art Clay”, (they’re different brands) is basically a clay made of tiny metal bits and a binder; on firing, the metal bonds to itself and the binder burns off. I do have a design book from a while ago, when I was more heavily considering using it. At the time, I wanted to learn “real” metalwork, and felt metal clay was this newfangled high-tech thing…but maybe “real” metalwork is just not what I want to do.

Kilns are expensive, and basically, there’s a very obvious fire hazard. But, if I were going to use it both for PMC and for ceramics, that actually does tip the scale a bit in favor of considering one. The biggest reason I’ve held off is the fact that I tend to pick up and drop off hobbies, relatively quickly. I think the “theory” of the practice sounds awesome, while the “practice” of the practice, isn’t always appealing to me. But I can’t tell until I’ve done it.

There’s that, and the cheapest kilns are still really expensive…so I haven’t felt great about sinking money into one. Also: have you seen the prices of pottery? I’ve been able to get some really cheaply at craft fairs–they’re not even ugly! I’m like, how do you make money selling a little tiny cup — and then I remember that clay is earth! Virtually all its value comes from the skill of the ceramicists (and luck with the firings)!

I should practice with some other clays first, though, like the air-dry stuff, cellulose, and polymer clays, knowing that I don’t have to make things like I’ve seen before. It’s been a really long time since I worked with my hands in the manner clay demands, too…it would just be interesting to get back into it.

career, creativity, self care, spirituality, technology

Creativity and awareness.

For the past three days, I’ve been having issues with lethargy, and late today I realized what may be causing it. Hopefully, tomorrow won’t be as bad. I’ve just been through a couple of days of early-morning work and an early-morning class…I need to prepare for this, better.

I did reach the point, yesterday, of becoming annoyed enough with the books and magazines and catalogs laying around everywhere, to put them away. At this point, I know that I do want to rearrange them. The major issue is the fear of not being able to find anything after they have been rearranged.

There is also the possibility of getting a long and low bookshelf. Because of earthquake concerns (I’ve lived through two major earthquakes: Loma Prieta [1989] and Northridge [1994]), the tall bookcase that I have, which has most of my books on it, isn’t in my bedroom. There is too much of a danger of it falling over, either onto the bed or into an escape route.

However, there is another reason the books aren’t here: it’s dust. Apparently, because I spend so much time in the bedroom (asleep), things collect dust quickly. This isn’t so much of an issue for the office, which is where I have a few bookcases in use…most of them are storing things I haven’t immediately used, however, like my Writer’s Thesaurus, and various anthologies from my undergrad degree.

A while ago, I did start going through things to figure out which books I really wanted and would use; but after filling a couple of boxes (and clearing a couple of shelves), stopped. Maybe I need to get back to that.

If I can clear a deep shelf, I can move the majority of my craft books, “to keep,” back down there. The issue is that most of them are too tall to fit on the shelf they’re on, currently. To be honest, I can’t even recall why I put them there, except to sort them away from their default position.

When you work in a library, you learn that location can be imbued with meaning. It is possible for me to use that space as a library, considering that the computer no longer has to live there, and that what is there is basically now an archive.

It would make sense for me to go through my images and work, though I think all of that stuff is already backed up to an external hard drive. I just don’t live in that room as much as I used to. I also do have a low (“altar”) table with floor pillows and the like, from the time when I was meditating.

I really don’t know if I’d like to get back to that; I’ve already been through the disillusionment thing with Buddhism (that being my realization that Buddhism is an organized religion run by people who have politics and faults, and that it may not be “true”), but I also have a non-denominational meditation book that I could deal with, if I wanted to. (I got it years ago when I read a bit of it at the library and knew I would want to read it, even if it got deleted.)

As part of my illness “recovery”, I am supposed to be exercising and meditating in order to reduce my dependence on medication, and abate some of the side effects. It’s been a long time since I could even think about doing that, however — I had to get through grad school. It’s also really a pain to sit seiza (on one’s knees) or in Lotus (half-Lotus?) position on the floor, for long periods of time. I suppose it does connect me with the past; I just don’t particularly know if it’s something I even want to be associated with, anymore.

Of course, this is me on the other end of over two decades of medication, and without a lot of the credulousness that I had, before it. It’s really clear to me that what I’m on quiets my mind, and seems to eliminate the need for creativity in trying to explain what’s happening. It’s very apparent, and has been, to me, that I move closer to an atheistic position when I’m on a higher dose of one medication in particular (which I’m on, now)…this being why I currently consider myself either a Pantheist or Panentheist, not Pagan or Buddhist. Hindu beliefs have been on the edge of my thought, but I’m not deep enough into studying them to particularly understand them wholly.

In any case…I probably need to explain Pantheism. Pantheism (not, “polytheism,” as the last person I tried to explain this to, assumed) is the belief that the Universe is divine and the body of the Divine. Panentheism believes that the Universe is the body of the Divine but that the Divine is also more. I don’t think too much about which camp I fall into, partially because it doesn’t really ultimately matter (reality and truth exist whether or not I acknowledge them); also because both sets of beliefs are pretty fringe.

But…I think this actually is the best explanation I can give for the way my mind works, when it comes to religion. I have more of a feeling of sacredness when I go into the mountains, than anything. It’s one of those, “this is beautiful and could easily kill me,” feelings. Definitely high-alert, definitely respectful. When you’re out someplace like in the Sierra, you know — or at least I’ve known — that if I die, it’s more than likely my fault (or the fault of someone with me, like when the idiot kids were rocking boulders in the talus pile) and not the wildernesses’.

As a kid, I wouldn’t get out into wild areas very often because family did not like being away from the comforts of civilization. Now that I’m older, I will have more of a chance to explore wild places on my own or with friends, but to be honest, it’s not something I seek. I don’t like putting my survival on the line for no reason.

Anyhow…one of the items on my altar table is a box with little tumbled stones and mineral samples in it. Sadly enough, this is about as close as I get to monoliths, right now.

There is also my little bunny fetish from when I was a kid. I was totally into bunnies as a kid. A “fetish,” in this terminology, is a stone that holds personal significance. Mine is a little black carved thing, from a Zuñi artisan whose name I’ve likely lost. However, given its source, and what I can remember, I believe it has been blessed.

I used to carry it around, which is what initially got me into fetish pouches, which is what got me into beadwork. But, back on topic: the rabbit fetish represents creativity.

Right now, I don’t know where I stand with that. I could activate and begin feeding and carrying this fetish again…but somehow that seems a bit creepy. :) Or metaphysical, at least.

I did read a couple of blog entries about not worrying about monetizing one’s passion (which, in this case, has been related to my beadwork). The reason I cleared off a great deal of the craft table is that I wanted to paint again…something I haven’t done in months, as I haven’t seen it as profitable. I didn’t know how to start, so I got out my “Dusties” box and started playing with graphite crayons and willow charcoal.

One thing I did learn: don’t be afraid to make apparently nonsensical details and unclosed lines when working abstractly. ;) They’re what make things interesting. :) I was also attempting not to fight the urge to follow the ghost lines that appear before I may trace over them.

On second thought, maybe I should be meditating. It may help me endure the terror I feel while creating long enough for me to actually make some things.

I’m pretty sure I want to use gouache in the near future, but I don’t entirely have a topic yet. Water, fire (or, “flowing things,” reminiscent of some Southeast Asian styles I’ve seen), and landscapes came up when I was working yesterday, though. Broken lines merge into negative space merge into organic overlaps. It happens.

And tools affect outcomes. Particularly, charcoal sticks are great at mark-making, but they can’t necessarily flood a page, and all of your color is black to grey.

I still need to test out my Sennelier Prussian Blue (transparent) watercolor against Daniel Smith Prussian Blue, the latter of which fades in intensity after months in direct sun. It will be weeks before I’ll see if there is any difference in permanence, though the sooner I swatch, the sooner I’ll know.

I’ve also realized that I should likely broaden my job search beyond the library field. The nature of what I’ve learned has applications in the wider tech and information fields, and though this is a bit terrifying, it means I have a potential way out of what is strictly the Library. Most people who are working…need to be creative in their job searches. I can do that, too.

There are several places where I can look for at least an interim job before dealing with libraries: fabric stores, bead stores, art supply stores, for three categories to start with. I’ve realized that my involvement with these things is okay, possibly even good, and may become useful.

It would also likely be good to continue on with my JavaScript course. I was looking over my books from my Library and Information Science program, and…I have a large number of tech-oriented books. If I want to be in a tech field, learning more technology is essential. It’s probably not wrong to be unsure at this point if I do want to be in a tech field…so long as I don’t let that stop me from doing what I do want to do, and trying out what might be helpful. If I hate it, that’s one thing; but personal uncertainty (do I want to be in Tech because D was in Tech?) is going to happen, regardless…