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…

LIS, technology

The “fun” part of work?

Seeing my Vocational counselor recently got me to realize that while I’m aiming for an entry-level Librarian position (professional), or a Library Assistant position (paraprofessional), my intent at the beginning of all of this was to go into either Cataloging or Web Design.

Because of issues with Cataloging which I’m now familiar with as persistent and known cultural problems (particularly within DDC and LCC, the two major classification systems in U.S. libraries [at least if BISAC hasn’t crept up and taken more ground from DDC than I know]), but which struck me out of the blue as a cultural minority student, I switched out of Cataloging early on to focus on Digital Services. Particularly, I wanted to learn coding in a situation where I wouldn’t have to worry about being stigmatized or harassed or seen as a non-person because of being female.

While I didn’t go all the way into the Web Programming path…I can see that the latter was what I have been thinking of, when I think of needing to know current versions of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, MySQL (not to mention mastering command-line interfaces), etc.

Maybe it’s not so bad; I mean, I can understand a lot now that I couldn’t, before. My current LCC course builds on a lot that I was introduced to in Library School (like MARC encoding), that I wouldn’t understand otherwise. It’s similar with my Metadata knowledge and the database stuff I had to go through. The last was really difficult, but I now at least have had an introduction to it.

I’m thinking and hoping that the Master’s program was intended just to be an introduction to the current terrain…and not that it was meant to make me fully capable of engaging with it on my own (because I don’t feel ready to do that, yet). I also need to remember, though, that in the real world, teamwork happens. I probably will not need to know everything, myself.

At least, I hope not.

Tonight, I’ve been catching up on Social Media — maybe, “catching up on,” isn’t the right phrase — maybe, “using,” Social Media (as versus, “not using,”) is closer to the reality. While I was in classes, I basically put social interaction outside of family, school, work, a couple of groups, and blogging, to the side; and otherwise limited my interaction. Now that I’m out, there is this emphasis on, “networking,” and I’m realizing how many ties with people I’ve made over the years (although in a lot of cases, they’re rusty ties).

I’ve also been checking in on the Career Center for my alma mater. I think I underestimate myself, my network, and my strengths. Somehow it isn’t surprising: I have a tendency to set very high standards for myself (not to mention that I have a tendency to doubt I can reach them). The major drawback to this in my case is that if I think I have no chance at success, I have a tendency to avoid engagement.

I mean, on one level, that’s really a survival strategy — it’s way harder to get through a class when you’re lost, especially when you’re part of a team (and the team isn’t helping you, and you feel like the slackers who mooched off you in high school, but you really don’t know what you’re doing). On another level, that type of thinking keeps me from trying things that I might be able to do but am afraid I can’t (like taking Project Management or Cybersecurity, both things I know I need to know, but which I am leery of taking in a University setting where my GPA is on the line).

I seem to remember hearing something like this from several years ago, coming out of MIT…how students were punished for failing, when they should be supported for risk-taking — and students who played it safe and took easy classes (resulting in high GPAs) were lauded.

During my time in the Master’s program, I tried to take a middle road and not do something that seemed too easy. It’s part of why I went for a tech-oriented path: I figured that I should learn something moderately difficult, instead of something I could puzzle through on my own.

Of course, going for entry-level Librarian jobs…that isn’t so tech-heavy. It leans more into Customer Service, Psychology, and Politics…

…which, of course, are also difficult, just in a different way. Majorly, they are difficult in ways that have to do with people. Which…isn’t where I thought I’d end up. But without knowledge of a solid Programming language, at this point, and without Cataloging knowledge…or experience in the field (or even really knowledge of the field), I’m at a disadvantage.

Hmm. That means get to know the field! Right? Fill in those knowledge gaps!

And remember that an entry-level Librarian job is just entry-level. It’s not forever.