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…

creative writing, creativity, design, organization

Resources divided by devotion: goals and priorities

The positive thing about having a blog (one of them) is having a record of what you were thinking before you went off on some flight-of-fancy/distraction and got lost. :) Right now I have a lot of things I want to do, and as always, time is limited. (Sometimes I feel like I should be five different people working all at once to fulfill all the goals I’ve set before myself…)

Sometimes this is a good thing — like when I talk about having long-term goals that I’m working towards (becoming a Librarian, learning Japanese language, learning Web Programming, etc…though it would be a lie to say I really find Web Programming personally interesting; it would more be, “good stuff to know,” not, “fun stuff to learn”). It means that I’m not stagnant, that I have directions to grow into. It also means that it’s okay not to have attained them yet: they’re long-term.

Then there are shorter-term goals…which aren’t really all that pressing, in my case (with the exception of exercise and hygiene), due to the fact that I still live with family (which, I’m finding, a lot of people in my generation do). The longer-term goals kind of automatically should be broken down into shorter-term goals and dispersed among them, but that’s something I haven’t mastered, yet. There’s also the issue of short-term goals being recurrent…meaning I probably should have some sort of schedule for them.

When I was still taking serious classes (from a University, that is), I started Bullet Journaling to try and organize all of this, because I had no choice. It’s not the most intuitive thing for me — I’d rather use an app — but it works. I’m not sure if I’m the type of person to decorate my pages, though. Most of what is valuable online about Bullet Journaling also seems to be looking at other peoples’ layouts…words seem kind of extraneous.

I should probably start out by listing all my long-term goals and all my short-term and recurrent goals. Then I could try and divide them among the weeks and months. Certain things like Japanese language practice and JavaScript practice would highly benefit from this type of order, because I have a habit of starting things and then not finishing them, or beginning and then leaving off for so long that I forget what I learned.

I’m not considering getting back into Japanese language at this moment. I have my reasons. I’m not going further into it than that.

As for the other stuff: beading, fiber arts, sewing, drawing, writing…it’s kind of hard to prioritize among these. Obviously, writing comes in as a big #1, where it comes to what I need to do to stay sane. But what else I really need to do, of these things…it’s not easy to tell. Drawing obviously goes with the writing, in case I want to author a graphic novel. That prioritizes drawing with pencil, fineliner, and marker; also reading graphic novels, and books on how to create graphic novels.

That is, of course, unless I write the thing as literature instead…though sometimes hard elements of the plot come through in my drawings, moreso than in my text. (I have a habit of expressing things I didn’t know I was feeling, through my art.)

Anyhow, the things I can think of that I’m interested in at the moment are lacemaking (how femme can you get, right), sewing, embroidery, and beadwork (including beaded micromacramé). Aside from that are painting (acrylic, watercolor, gouache), sculpture (air-dry clay, silversmithing), printmaking (linocuts), and knitting and crochet. I’ve basically given up on the latter two because they eat up too much of my time with repetitive work, but I have the stuff to restart if I want to. Which…I don’t.

There’s also working on the back end of a website and learning to be my own Full-Stack Developer, which is not what I want to be doing.

Graphic Design and Web Design are something else, though. Interaction Design combined with Graphic Design can be interesting, and I’m generally relatively motivated to work on that. The technical portion…I understand it brings in more money, but the more Computer Science-like and less Design- and Psychology-like it gets, the less interested I am, unfortunately?

The other thing that I can and should be doing is reading, though I know that now — where a person with a smartphone has multimedia at their fingertips — this is not the only reliable — or even all the time the best — way of transmitting information.

I should also note that Web Publishing is only really important for me if I do start up my own business or site online, say for publishing original works of fiction (though I would likely make more money going the traditional route), or selling jewelry. Right now, though…that’s not high on my list, and I say that mostly because I’m not at the level where I can even really consider it. There’s too much back-end work to do that I don’t yet understand…though I keep doing this, and I’ll get there. Long-range goals, right?

Of course, it also happens to be a moving goal…but maybe this is enough to keep me at my JavaScript course. I’m still waiting to get into JQuery and PHP (I need to do that self-starting thing, again) and I know that I’m at the very beginning stages of learning Web Programming. I probably shouldn’t get discouraged just because I didn’t learn it in University (there are going to be lots of things I didn’t learn in University).

If I look at it this way…if I’m going to write — using either a literary format or a sequential art one — it’s worth my time to read, to write, to draw, to learn to digitally edit images, to learn to run a website, and to learn to design and populate a website. Of course, this is missing sound and moving images…but I can only ask so much of myself.

And, okay: I did major in Creative Writing, but I don’t know how much that will actually help me in my life, as versus help me wreck my life by oversharing.

I guess that’s why people fictionalize things. :)

Beyond that…well, that is a lot to take on! Especially considering the content I want to express in my writing. I mean, it could keep me busy, all by itself.

Maybe I should relegate beadwork and fiber arts to second chair — beadwork (including micromacramé) coming before sewing, lacemaking, etc.? The big reason I even picked up lacemaking is that I could easily work it into my beadwork designs! And sewing…the main reason to do that is to gain some control over what I wear, and to self-soothe.

Right now I’ve got two projects in the works, which are just stalled. I need to get back into them, though I’m still in the process of cutting out one, while the other has not even been marked yet (though I have the pattern). The issue is that the fabric takes up a lot of space, and it’s easy to mark something wrong (or accidentally delete a mark). Plus, I need to clear off the craft table to use a sewing machine.

And beadwork just isn’t relaxing when you’re planning to sell! But like sewing, it gives me more control over what I wear. I didn’t realize that commonality before, but I do, now.

Then, there’s work…I mean, can I keep work, work, and deal with hobbies as hobbies? At least until I get up to the level of running my own website? What is the level of importance of making jewelry, in the scheme of things? If I had a well-paying and stable job, I wouldn’t have to worry about it at all. Maybe I should be putting my efforts more into getting and keeping that stable job, than into making a fall-back option…

…which could very well become my writing, or my work online.

Hmm. I think this is going to take more than one night of consideration…