art, art media, illustration, self-publishing

I actually drew tonight…a lot…but no upload yet

What’s interesting is that almost as soon as I start developing material, and it starts looking good (and workable), I also start wondering if it is okay to show works-in-progress or developmental artifacts. The answer to that question may lie in whether I’m wishing to self-publish on a small scale, thus maintain total creative control over the venture; or to go to an established Publisher with the story.

As I doubt this story would be easy to sell to a publisher, however (its main audience is niche [gender and sexual minorities, particularly if they’re also People of Color, also particularly if they have experience within transgender circles…all of which will probably make this hard to sell — or a blockbuster]), that’s a step forward in freeing me up to display my work on it. If I did show my work on it and then later wanted to publish with a Publishing House, that could complicate contract negotiations.

If I showed my work, however, and then self-published…I could build up recognition prior to release. And possibly earn more using POD (Print On Demand) than I would earn with a Publisher. Plus, I’d keep my rights…which is kind of in line with writing the script and doing the art, myself.

So it isn’t…a wholly negative thing, to show the work. Especially not, if showing it helps me produce more of it (or if showing it lets people know I’m working on it, and they get interested). While I’m trying to forget the emphasis on images as proof of existence, I grew up with that. Unfortunately. :)

The major barrier here would be that if I self-published, it wouldn’t count if I wanted to use the book(s) as evidence to be admitted to a Creative Writing MFA program. But do I really need that? In any case, doing the work — any work at all, even if (or maybe especially if) self-guided — is probably better training than taking classes on doing the work, at this point. (I mean, seriously; I have one Master’s degree; unless I want to be an Academic Librarian, I can stop the formal education process, and get back to work!)

An MFA is, especially, a lot of money to invest, and I already did a BA in the subject. I might essentially be repeating classes, that is. Getting back in would majorly be to make Publishing contacts…which I could do another way (or probably other ways, in the plural).

The MFA in Creative Writing also doesn’t really matter unless I do go into Publishing or into Teaching, as versus Librarianship. In Publishing, I might not need it (with a BA in Creative Writing, and an MLIS, already). In Teaching? I have never tried Teaching.

Just a bit ago, I thought up the fact that I could try to lead free Creative Writing seminars within a Library position. The idea of helping people who love to read find their own voices (instead of just reading the words of others), is alluring. But I have no practical experience, and I don’t know if I’d enjoy the reality of it.

I’ve always been amazed at how some teachers can find positive bits to comment on, on the spot, after anyone from their class reads their writing aloud. I’m not sure I could do that; at the same time, I don’t want to crush someone who is proud of what they can do, just because I can see things to work on. (There are always things to work on, especially if what is written is just a first or second draft.)

Of course, there’s the Iowa Writer’s Workshop…but, it’s Iowa. (I have a hard time with cultural isolation. It was hard enough enduring Central California. And that was California.) I attended undergrad in San Francisco, and even there, the English program’s conservatism (as versus the Creative Writing program’s comparative brilliance) tried me. I don’t know what was up with the English Department, seriously. Whoever was hiring must have just had their own vision for what the place should be, which didn’t align with mine.

But I’ve experienced cultural isolation (if not institutional racism) in pretty much every higher-education scenario I’ve encountered, except for Junior College. The same thing — in Iowa, on top of it — doesn’t sound better.

This rumination does make it clearer, though: it’s likely more to my benefit to show my work, than not. Actually, it’s more to my benefit to do whatever I can to make sure I keep making more work, than not. If it takes showing my work to keep me engaged and accountable, that’s something to keep in mind.

The only issue is becoming public…like, really public. That, in turn…is going to mean dealing with people disagreeing with my existence and voice. But hey — it’s my existence. Others’ opinions on that pale in relative importance. And they should pale in power. To do otherwise means that their opinions and their existence are both more important than mine. And that’s a power grab.

In any case…I think I can move forward on this. It’s interesting to see my character’s faces again after so long, and to rediscover recurring characters which I didn’t know were going to hang around, when I first drew them.

So, tomorrow, I might be getting a couple of things…I’m just not sure if I should(!), or if I should try what I have first, before determining if I need anything more.

Right now I’m aiming for an initial run of images using dip pen and black ink, or black Copic fineliners, then going over that with either diluted black watercolor, or diluted black ink, to put in greys. There are three different black watercolors I can try: Mars, Ivory, and Lamp. They all have different colors, and different working properties, from each other. I’m thinking Ivory Black is the best one to use if I want to be able to lift the color…from what I recall it doing, before. (Lifting, that is, when I didn’t want it to.) Mars would probably be best if I don’t want the black pigment floating away.

Then, I also have Yasutomo’s (non-toxic) liquid Sumi ink, the Black Cat ink, and Iroshizuku’s Take-Sumi (which isn’t waterproof). Just thinking about it right now…I know that the Yasutomo Sumi and the Black Cat work well in dilution. I also know that the Yasutomo Sumi doesn’t move, even if I wet it again — which may be reason enough to use it.

Today I found that it was much less intimidating to draw in a sketchpad, than on Illustration paper…and I wanted to draw something with content, not just lines to test whether the ink is going to move. That means, tomorrow, I should test the Kuretake ink along with the Black Cat and the Black Star Hi-Carb (and I can try out those new dip nibs)…I’ll need a new lighter, though, to burn off the lacquer. That, or a non-food-safe pot to boil off the lacquer. Or a raw potato to stick the nibs into, to dissolve the lacquer. Which I might have.

It might be growing, right now. Hmm…

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…

career, creative writing, creativity, work, writing

Records, Distractability, and Commitment

I’ve rediscovered one of the major reasons I have continued to write. If I don’t, I have a tendency to forget what has happened. Days blend into each other; I lose my sense of self; I lose continuity.

It was only through writing responses to others in my field that I realized the fact that I can use my Creative Writing degree to run Creative Writing groups, should I become a full-fledged Librarian. At the time of my realization, I also found that there could be a purpose for getting an MFA in Creative Writing: It would teach me how to teach Creative Writing, or at least give me the experience so that I could do so, better.

Of course, though: writing is just one of the multitude of activities I could be pursuing in my off-hours. It’s something that I do already, and something it could be said that I need to do. Along with this goes the need to be reading, which is also something that…well, you know, greatly helps if you’re a Librarian.

This has got me thinking back on the graphic novel project that I had been musing over…and have started to write out. It’s possible that I could work this out in a literature format (which would ease demands over certain things like only involving what I am confident in being able to draw), but I still have no expectations over being able to make money with it.

Traditional publishing is not an easy thing to break into, as an author. But if I’m employed in a library, am well-read, research my Publishing Houses before targeting them, keep up my writing practice, and have an BA in Creative Writing…all of those things should increase my chances of acceptance.

There is the question, I’m asking myself right now, as to whether my medium has to be that thing I need to do, like I need to breathe or eat. In that case, writing is it. I basically can’t avoid writing, and expect to hold who I am, together.

Then there are the other things.

There’s study and continuous learning related to my primary career, which is — for now — Adult Services Librarianship (or aiming for that, at least). In addition to reading broadly, there are competencies that can best be approached by study. Then there is second language acquisition…which, at least, keeps things fresh.

My barrier to Spanish language acquisition is lower by miles than my barrier to Japanese language acquisition. As I have a lot of other things I want to be doing, and I’ve realized some of the skewed viewpoint I got in my Middle and High School language classes, I’ve decided to give Spanish a shot. Even though it is basically fraught with political, social, and religious land mines for me.

However, if I want to study the legacy of colonialism on Central and South America (and the Philippines), it’s a good language to have. Not to say that colonialism only hit there, but looking at postcolonialism in, say, Africa, is likely going to be more difficult for me (unless I learn other Western European languages). It’s a start.

Then there is the problem of what can’t be communicated through words. I’m not a good enough poet at this point to be able to verbally elicit what I mean through methods other than prose. As a youth, I didn’t have the vocabulary to really say (audibly) what I needed to say. Of course, I can study poetry now — maybe some of it will rub off on me, and I know where to find it — the issue is dealing with the idea that I’m participating in frippery while the world is going down the toilet.

That, however, forgets the power of words and the inspiration they can elicit. I might be able to inspire many people to help — and they might do more work than I would able to do, if I directly applied myself. So, I suppose, I shouldn’t think of reading, or writing, as purely recreational or useless (even if it is fiction or poetry).

There’s also the point that writing is hard; emotionally speaking. Especially so, where it comes to writing about things one has experienced which are so damaging and idiotic, one may wonder why they take up any space in consciousness at all. I am generally not one to write farces, but I can see their use. Black humor may come into play, in the future. I’ve never considered it a weapon in my arsenal…but times may call for it.

Aside from this…I am so easily distracted. There are tons of things I want to do that I just don’t find time to do, because I’m too busy making up more things to do.

For example, I picked up a set of templates for English Paper Piecing (EPP), recently…whereupon I then designed a different pattern, even nicer than I had envisioned. So right now, I have three different designs for quilts, going on in my head. I should likely do something with that: one is based on EPP, one I drew on graph paper, and the third, I generated from paper-folding.

Do I know what I’m doing? I don’t think I know what I’m doing.

Well, maybe some part of my brain, knows what it’s doing. The color aspect of this…is likely why I continue to be drawn. That, and the similarity of quilts to mandalas. There’s also the geometry thing; I suppose I can’t forget the geometry thing. Math and color? Is that where my brain needs to be to unwind?

I also suppose that there really isn’t any reason why I can’t, or shouldn’t, use watercolor to help design these things. So much of it has to do with color placement and interactions. I mean, a quilt top is basically not much more than a pieced-together sheet, if it’s all the same color…

I’ve also realized that a lot of the books I find, I can use maybe 10-12 pages out of 60. Those 10-12 are really valuable, though. I may have to start keeping files (or more of a file) of the parts of books I can use…

All that to say…I’m formulating ideas about what’s necessary in my life, and what isn’t. It should help me divide my time and energy, so that I can get it all done.

I just hate to have Art take a back seat to language. The fact is, though: I try to write on a regular basis (hopefully, daily). I’m much less committed, with Art. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, for me…it’s just a surprising thing.

I’m going to save analysis of this entry for another day…