art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

creative writing, writing

Re: Prologue

Thank you all for accepting my writing experiments! To be honest, I wrote “Prologue” on the spot because I had an urgent need to write, and knew I wouldn’t work on it if no one could see it. (It’s probably me getting used to instant gratification.)

I realize now, however, that I did not work out the timeline in advance, and that I skip forward from my own familiarity with the early Web through early “gay”-rights years, and then seem to jump forward to the current apocalyptic scenario of climate change and pandemic, while dropping 15 years off of my narrator’s age (as compared with my own experiential perspective).

That means that should I continue the story in that framework, it will be an alternate timeline…one in which we’re 15 years in the past and still experiencing trauma via our environments. That also means that I might be looking at the CFC/Ozone Hole scenario gone uncorrected; which, most strikingly to my mind, mimics what I have had to do recently, with becoming nocturnal. That is, if we had not stopped using CFCs, the ozone layer would likely have eroded to the point where skin cancer rates would have jumped, crops would have burned and failed, and it’s probable we would have had to become active at night to avoid the sun in the daytime.

That’s not to mention the ramifications of what would happen if we allowed DDT to continue killing top predators. Then there is the drought I lived through in California in the early to mid-1980’s, which it seems everyone is used to, now. (We’ve gotten better at water conservation, since then, at least in California [though not so much in agriculture]…unless you look at the newer practice of hydraulic fracturing poisoning the groundwater. I don’t know if that is happening in this state, however.)

But I’m not aiming to get into worldbuilding. I’ve tried it…I don’t really like to do it. Maybe it’s because I was doing it without a focus on the main conflict; there are a lot of things that I could change, but I need a compelling reason to do so. At least, if I focus on minimalism and function in the story’s architecture.

I do have a couple of friends about 10 years younger than myself, whom I might be able to consult with as regards their experience of the IRL timeline…I haven’t, because I didn’t think of it. I actually don’t know what it must be like to have grown up with the Internet and Personal Computers and Web subculture(s) already established, or even having grown up in a time where gender fluidity and nonduality were recognized.

When I was young, we were still dealing with Fundamentalist hate, the AIDS epidemic, censorship of LGBT depictions, and lack of LGBT hate crime protections. We hadn’t gotten to the “QIA+” part of LGBT, and the “T” in LGBT often went unknown. We were, that is, largely operating on the basis of “sexual orientation” without realizing that the situation of protecting people from targeted emotional, physical and societal violence was not equivalent to toleration of perversion. (Not that I see non-Straightness as perversion, but the fact of the matter is that the mass of the hate coming out in those days had to do with [nominally] Straight people thinking that difference from themselves equaled Evil.)

I can’t even remember the last time I worked on the story I began in, “Prologue.” I’m dealing with some fundamental shifts in perspective and subject. There are so many things to work out in that piece that it will have to be rewritten from the ground up. I’m not particularly sure how best to do that on a platform such as this. I’ll have to age up my protagonist, which means I can’t let them shoot their mouth off like their 23-year-old self anymore. :) I don’t know, maybe that would keep more readers, heh.

I realize I left a hook in that piece, and don’t know how to satisfy it now without …well, let’s say that I made an attempt to write a beginning. The voice seems forced; the scenario is there, though making one of my characters an older transgender non-physically-transitioning person (for now)…that’s new.

They were always older, but making him/her transgender or nonbinary (s/he hasn’t revealed this yet) as versus a not-particularly-manly male with affections for another male…it kind of inserts a lifelong learning situation which could lead to the possibility of his/her empathy. The way s/he was defined early on (when I was a teen)…they were essentially nearly genderless, a creature of dreams and not, particularly, the human world.

That’s a good point to keep in mind, I think, although giving them a voice of their own also implies that they have thoughts of their own and interactions with the human world. (In earlier versions, they controlled the environment, which was their, “voice.” I may be able to work in a reference, to that. Of course, it’s referring to my possibly-obliterated 3.5″ floppy disk copies of work done in the 1990’s…but who’s counting.)

All of which is reminding me of an acquaintance. They’re actually really cute, but I’ve been too shy to say anything…which I bet they would totally understand!

Then there’s the role of the character who narrated, “Prologue,” which is separate from me but also an iteration of an initial main character/narrator, who honestly wasn’t thought through…particularly when it came to what he did when upset. He had always been sheltered/protected, so it is really unclear what’s going to happen if he gets pushed to his limits (though I did have a nightmare about that). I’m not entirely sure who he is, at the moment, as viewed by other people; though I have conjectures.

The painful part of this is that he does have an element of relative darkness (which I had been afraid to get into in my early work with him, on and off the page; I was trying to sanitize things). It’s likely going to drive the earlier parts of the plot. It will be interesting to have an intrinsically flawed narrator.

There’s another post in me, but I’ll type it in separately; it’s a different topic whatsoever. I didn’t intend or expect to get into this post, the way I did…

calligraphy, illustration, writing

notes on materials and recurrence of a beloved character

Just a quick post here, as I’m running a slight fever and should get some rest.

I did some sketches and writing today. The sketch I was able to ink was just in HB pencil and gone over with my black Riso marker. The felt “medium” nib was what I was looking for, if I was going to be making sketches to reduce in scanning, and wanted bold black lines. But the “fine” felt nib wasn’t all that much finer than the medium one. Alternately, the Micron Graphic 1 makes about the same line width, but the nib seems more fragile, and I don’t know if the color is as rich. I think the final factor in this will be which one withstands the alcohol markers the best, or which one I can reliably buy.

I also did some practice writing in a Faber-Castell Pitt brush pen, with very light pressure. I don’t know how the nibs are going to age, but fresh, they’re pretty good for lettering. Which I suppose is good when you realize that they aren’t what you’re looking for as regards hatching, or at the moment, for things other than lineart. I think I have a black one of these (which is a very dense, warm black), but I’m going to have to look for it. This one would also be good for lineart, as it makes a bold and somewhat variable line.

Other than that…I have a certain older (aged) character whom I’ve isolated my psyche from in the past. This was mainly because I’d become somewhat ill at ease with older characters seeking the attention of younger characters — and this judgment is based on a certain acquaintance I’ve (unfortunately) made in reality. Not to say that judgment is accurate. Today, after the last week of looking over sketches…I realized that being older doesn’t equate to being the …to be succinct, “dirty old man” that I’ve had to deal with in my life. For all I know, this character — the written character, that is — could be someone of my generation who is still alive in the future. Which gives a very different outlook on the concept of being aged.

The person I know IRL was shaped by his culture and time. I heavily suspect him of being racist and sexist (at the least — what I know is that he interacts with people based on what he thinks they are, which is based on their appearance), but this is something which occurs when someone is inundated at a vulnerable age by a racist and sexist and heterosexist environment, and never really has the insight to question the messages they’re receiving from whatever limited quarter they think is worth listening to. An older male who both has more insight (and wider range) than this one and who has been inundated in a different environment may turn out much differently. Which then means that they would conduct themselves differently, and they would have more options when it came to social settings.

Of course, this then leads to worldbuilding questions and alternate history or alternate reality. What specifically came to mind was the level of ease of physical mobility (allowing people to be exposed to other cultures, beyond just the “ooh that’s exotic” titillation that I suspect said acquaintance has felt, as ease of travel leads also to potential ease of immigration) and the level of ease of communication outside of one’s home culture (as via Internet or IRL social settings)…because I think that these are factors which allow a greater level of sophistication in social development as regards dealing with people who are different from oneself. And that’s something my character is really, really going to have to have in order not to become like the guy I know, who I perceive as being attracted to a younger person because of what he psychologically associates with her appearance (and additionally, because he can manipulate her without her full knowledge).

I’m deleting some contents here because they’re controversial and I don’t need angry comments. I’ll keep them for my own records — I know what I’m meaning to reference; it’s probable that the text won’t carry the entire message.

I drew this character again today — and felt as though I could make him anyone again — for the first time in months.