Getting past fear of failure?

I was going to start writing these things out longhand and then transfer them over to the computer, but my longhand writing practice has broken down within the last few days.

The first week of classes is now over.  This would be relatively awesome, except that now I have three thumbnail drawings and one large painting to work on in watercolor, which I’m not all that great at.  This is due next Wednesday, so the sooner I get to work on it, the better.  This is really almost the only homework I have left from this week — other than fleshing out the drawings which I’m pretty sure I was the only person in my Drawing section to have worked on.  (The assignment was given out after most of my section had left; I stayed late.)

Pending approval, I should be working on the mandala project for Special Projects in Drawing.  I suppose I could get to work on that early, too.

Right now I’m a bit intimidated by the Painting homework…I don’t feel like I can draw all that well in a gesture-drawing technique, and the watercolor I’ve copied (part of the homework) was very obviously done using gesture drawing as a foundation.  Well — at least it’s obvious when you’re trying to copy it and you realize that if you work on the whole thing at once, it’s a lot easier than trying to mimic it line by line.

I think I was first introduced to gesture drawing, two semesters ago.  It’s foundational for a lot of the work we’re doing, but at the same time, I had not been exposed to it at any time prior in my artmaking career.  My drawing teacher calls it “note-taking for artists.”  It’s just pretty hard for me to be loose in my drawings; then again, when I first got into drawing, I was copying animated characters in seventh grade.  So, obviously, there wasn’t a teacher there to teach me the foundations that were built upon to make the final images — I was just going after the finished images.

I can try to work on this, right now.  I think I’ve gotten my mind straightened up to the point that I can work on it, and not worry too much about the finished product.  Ego.  Right?


Literary careers?

I spoke with someone at work today about the possibility of going back to get a Library Science Master’s.

The short of it is that I was recommended to speak with people in the position that I would like to be in, and maybe shadow them for a day — and do this with multiple different people, among multiple different systems.  This would be to see whether I actually would like to be in that position, prior to wracking my brain (and losing a year’s living wage) to get the MLIS.

It makes sense; the only thing is that I am a really shy person by nature, and so approaching someone I don’t know in order to gain information (and probably not end up helping the person who’s helping me) is a little…scary?  Though I do have a contact in a nearby library system — not the one which I’m presently employed by — whom I worked under when I was a volunteer there.  In my own system…I can see that positions and job descriptions are so complex that it wouldn’t be at all that I would have to get a Library Science Master’s, in order to continue to work at the Library.

In reality, there seem to be about five tiers, below Head Librarian.  From (what seems to be) lowest to highest:

  1. Volunteers
  2. Library Aides/Library Student Assistants
  3. Clerks
  4. Library Assistants
  5. Librarians

I started out as a Volunteer, and am presently an LSA (as I’m still taking classes).  I think I’d actually be happy being an LA or a Clerk, depending on what the actual job descriptions were.  The problem with being a Clerk is that it’s difficult to advance past a certain point, plus the higher tiers are management positions.  The problem with being an LA is that, without a Library and/or Information Science Master’s, it’s hard to advance past that point at all.  With the Master’s, the higher tiers (which I have not listed here, as I don’t know much about them), open up.

But like I said, about a year’s living wage is invested in getting that Master’s…and that is money that could be spent on something else, like a MA or MFA in Fiction Writing.  Not that useful on its own — except within the Publishing industry.  I might want to call in some of my old contacts at my alma mater to meet with them about the possibility of becoming an Editor, especially as I never took that internship opportunity.  I’m not as averse to a job in publishing now, as I was when I graduated — I was told that I was being trained to become an Editor, but that it wasn’t really a creative position.

Now that I know that I can be creative on my own time, though, after the bills are paid, and that this can be my primary aim, after all — that’s something else.  It could be really awesome to be an Editor, but I can see that if I were editing large manuscripts, it might really ease my way to take the MA or MFA, which specializes in novel-length writing.  (The BA — for me — specialized in short fiction, out of the possibilities of poetry, playwriting, or short fiction.)  What I will absolutely need to do if I want to take the MA or MFA, though, is restart my writing.

I have had less of a problem with that recently, from doing the Morning Pages out of The Artist’s Way…but I think that this is one of those places where I can turn on and off the part of my brain activated while fiction writing.  I’ve been kind of scared to turn it back on, for reasons which I may or may not have divulged.  If I haven’t, there’s a future post idea…but basically, the fear is not being able to turn it off again, which is probably not realistic, given the fact that I can keep it off for so long as thing stand, now.

The biggest problem I have — and the reason my training discouraged me from becoming an author — is having become somewhat averse to reading.  This is ironic, because that aversion wasn’t there before my training in the English department.  I think I just got exposed to so many consistently whackadoodle writers on the English side of my training, though, that it turned me off to reading on the whole.  (Really.  Calvinism?)

(What they didn’t tell me when I went into English was that we would be reading ethnically English writers, some other Western European writers, American writers of Western European descent, a few Russians, and about two writers of African descent.  I was looking for something, I dunno…more American?  [The two writers of African descent don’t count as including the entire spectrum.  Just because “black” is said to be the “opposite” of “white,” within certain racist enclaves, that doesn’t mean that two black authors therefore are taken to include all the Latinx and East Asian and Native American and Aboriginal and South Asian and Eastern European and Middle Eastern and Pacific Islander writers, and all the other African cultures which didn’t produce an Achebe, etc., because ‘we included the most different!  What else do you want?!’  (no, no one actually said that, but it was implied.)]  But to get what I wanted, I would have had to major in Ethnic Studies, which didn’t focus on the literary merit of the titles it offered, moreso than the political framework around the ethnicities of the authors…which in my opinion, did those authors a disservice.)

I did pick up a book today that has stood out to me as worth reading, though.  I won’t give the title of it at this point — I’ll wait until I’ve read some of it, for that — but it seems interesting.  The prose itself is fairly beautiful, which is the main reason I picked it up — though on reading the inside flap, I find that it’s a translation.  Er?  Okay.

Anyhow…I should probably get going and get started on making this salad for dinner.  I didn’t intend to go off on that tirade about the racism of my University’s English department…but seriously…globalization, anyone?  Seriously.  It’s like the English department felt that barely any people of color could write in English long enough to make a book.

But okay, I’ll get off of that, now.  Onward!  To the salad!

*tries to skip away and stumbles over a stone*

Reconsidering MLIS.

Even though I think I’d be better off reading some borrowed books…I’ll write, a bit.

I’ve been puzzling over what to do as regards a career path, in recent days.  Those who have been with me from before this blog’s renaming will probably remember that finding a career path was the initial point of this blog.

Although I’m coming to appreciate the Library more and more (as I actually read the books I check out, rather than let them sit on the table and gather dust), I’m really not certain that I want to be employed by them, long term.  Particularly, dealing with disturbed or hostile patrons (plus sexual harassment) are the major drawbacks.

I’ve sent out an email to numerous people I have worked for, and am hoping for a response from them.  One person has gotten back to me already…

If I really wanted to, I could probably re-enter training to become a Librarian as of Fall 2016, cleanly.  The question remains, is that something I really want to do?  But I have a limited number of years before me in which my parents will remain alive and able to care for me.  Librarianship is…it’s something I’m familiar with.  I’ve been at my current post for the last five years, and I don’t tire of finding new titles to read.  It would also be nice to be able to help patrons find what they need, in a manner in which I can’t, now.

What I really want to do is to be an author and/or illustrator; however, neither of those paths are financially secure.  Becoming either a part-time or full-time Librarian would keep me around books and other sources of information, and would pay me enough to stay off the street, at least!  In my free time, I will be able to read (though to what extent this is part of the job in a Public Library, I’m not sure), and either work on my writing, and/or my art.

I have two paths before me which I can go down, if I want to be hired in some way by either the Library or the Publishing industry:

  1. Reapply for the Master’s program this Fall, for Fall 2016.  (I will have to resubmit transcripts.)
  2. Complete my Art AA in Spring 2016.
  3. Go back to iSchool in Fall 2016.
  4. Apply for a part-time Library Assistant position.
  5. Complete my iSchool training in three years, by Fall 2019.
  6. Begin paying off my loans.
  7. After 10 years, my remaining loan balance (for my Master’s training) should be forgiven — if I continue on in the Public Library.

The benefit to this path is that it’s clear, regimented, and secure:  I know what I will have to do in order to be successful.  I’d have to pass my classes (which include a lot of group work), plan my classes out, and submit a complete ePortfolio in Fall 2019.  I’d also need to maintain a working connection to the school.

The other path is here:

  1. While I am hired as a Library Student Assistant and/or Library Assistant, read and learn about different Publishing Houses and authors.
  2. Apply for a Library Assistant position.
  3. When I have enough accumulated knowledge about books, presses, and authors, try for an internship in a Publishing House.
  4. If I like that and am accepted, I could go on to become an Editor at a Publishing House (eventually).

The benefit to this path is that it is not a public service position.  The main drawback to it is that I would have to tell people information that they probably would not want to hear, on a regular basis.  I’m sure there will be some gems who would like feedback, but I can’t bet on that happening, all the time.

So… to keep my options open, what I can do is this:

  1. Reapply for iSchool this Fall.
  2. Continue on in my Art classes so that I graduate with the Art AA in Spring 2016.
  3. Read books out of the Library which interest me.
  4. Review how to navigate the iSchool, online, and finish reading what I didn’t complete, in Fall 2012.
  5. If I still want to, go back to iSchool in Fall 2016.
  6. Apply for a part-time Library Assistant position.
  7. Complete all courses, including the ePortfolio, by Fall 2019.
  8. I’m now free to become a Librarian (or an Editor, if I wish), and can end my stint in higher education, here.
  9. By Fall 2029, the remaining balance of my Masters’ loans (which will be the majority of my debt) should be forgiven.

This will only work insofar as public libraries continue to remain in existence.  We already have to deal with competition from the Internet, but really, the two realms are very different.  One is in-person, community-based and community-organized.  The other is finding whatever information anyone has decided to post, online.

Although becoming a Librarian wouldn’t be my top choice of jobs to take…it’s the most apparent one, and the career path on which I’ve already started.  The window to complete all my units and graduate in seven years, total, is almost up.  If I take over seven years (that is, if I don’t graduate by Fall 2019), I’ll just have to retake the two or three classes I took in my first semester.  Kind of a pain, but at least there is that leeway built into things.

Reading, and reading, and reading…

Last night, I finally read the last essay in Ways of Seeing (by John Berger), finished Meet Mameshiba, and worked through Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (by Adam Rex) at about 2 AM.  🙂  I figure that if I’m interested in writing and illustrating kids’ books, it would be good to see what’s out there.

I really have to recommend Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich.  It’s about monsters and food, and poetry.  (The front cover seems to contain a marketing in-joke.)  In my library, it’s actually in the poetry part of the kids’ nonfiction section.  This book caught my eye a long time ago, but I was too shy to check it out.  The humor in it, though, is kind of universal.  I think that if I were a parent reading this book to my kids, I would probably have a good time with it, too.

Meet Mameshiba is cute, but there wasn’t much of it that really lasted in my memory.  The concept is clever — Mameshiba are bean/dogs, as their name implies.  I still found this one to push the limits of my attention span, though.  Apparently, there are more books in the series, and then I keep seeing some information about animations.  They might be worth checking out at the library, at least, even if you’re actually a thirty-something who was into Sanrio at the height of its popularity.

Ways of Seeing is a book to check out if you’re into art history, viewed from socialist, feminist, and other left-wing viewpoints that challenge the status quo (or did, in the 1970’s, though on the whole in my country, socialist viewpoints [and left of that] have been historically politically suppressed, so some of the critiques are still valid.  However, a good dose of Second Wave Feminist viewpoints live among the pages…we’re on the Third or Fourth Wave [depending on who you talk to], now).  I picked it up because I saw a direct comparison of Titian’s Venus of Urbino as versus Manet’s Olympia when I opened the book to a random page. (I just did a quick lookup; this method of divination — opening a book to a random page and seeing if it strikes any chords with one — is apparently called “bibliomancy.”)  As I did my last paper and speech in Renaissance to Contemporary Art History on these two works, I felt like it was worth my time to check out what Berger was saying.  I can’t say I agree with all of it, but it’s interesting reading.

Last night and today, I was struggling to get myself to read You Majored in What?, and I think that it was worth it to avoid giving up when I got to the part of the book where one would try and apply the training of their major to their job search.  (I just skipped the assignments in the chapter, and made a note to look at my unofficial transcript and/or the current program site, to remind myself what classes I actually did take.)  From this, and from my final meeting with my counselor, I can see that writing is one of these things I’d really like to do.

I like to read good books, and I like to write…the major reason I’m in art classes now is that I’ve found there are things that need to be expressed, sometimes, which cannot be expressed through the written word or anything which, like it, takes a linear, discursive form.  This is probably one of the reasons why things like storytelling and poetry exist, though.

It might be worth it to get back into Creative Writing classes, just to brush up and have a structured environment to work within.  However, there are certain definite reasons I stopped writing.  I’m not sure they’re absolute reasons, or that I cannot overcome them, though.  I have hope that one day I’ll be able to write again, without fear.

I spend most of my reading time online, and not with actual paper books.  What I found to be amazing is the shortened attention span this eventually engenders.  I was up in the middle of the night reading, because I’ve been told not to be on the computer after 10 PM.  Apparently, the light from the monitor can fool one’s brain into thinking it’s daytime, which then makes it more difficult to fall asleep…so the books were there, and I directed myself to look at them.

I found myself wanting to go back to sleep at what must have been around 2:30 AM, which is the reason why I’ve realized that if I’m going to write, I’ll need to be able to keep the reader’s attention even when they want to leave.  (!)  Especially so, if I’m writing kids’ books.  I was kind of amazed at how sometimes I want to read, but I also want to read quickly and get on to the next thing to read.

If I’m going to be a published author, though, there’s probably no better place to work, than a library.  Right now I’m wondering if I really should become a Library Assistant instead of a Clerk, just so that I can have more contact with the books, and with helping to match people to the books…

…not a Librarian position, necessarily.  Not now.  Though I’ve heard that most of our LAs are in training for Library Science degrees.  I have four more years until I can reapply at the online college I hated, but maybe that’s not the path I want to take.  Actually, I’m fairly certain that’s not the path I want to take.

Oh, hey.  And then there is the possibility of working in Publishing, as an Editor.  It is what I trained for.  And I would get to read a lot.

I’ll need to think about it.  In the meantime, dinner.

Update on the artist materials thread


I thought I’d update y’all on what was going on in this thread.  I ended up not getting the Cretacolor AquaMonoliths, because their color saturation and solubility, both, were not ideal.

I did go into the art supply store with a loaded waterbrush, though, and there were a large selection of aquarelles (watercolor pencils).  I ended up getting a pack of Derwent Inktense aquarelle pencils.  The cores are wide enough so that I feel like I should be able to cover a large area relatively easily.  There’s this, and the fact that the Derwent Inktense blocks were about 3x as expensive as promoted on the store website.

What I was curious about, but passed on, were Caran d’Ache Supracolor aquarelles.  It was really a draw between these and the Inktense pencils…both had good color saturation and good color dispersion, though I think the Supracolors were a bit better in regard to fine color dispersion.

What really caused me to choose the Inktense over the Supracolors is the fact that after the Inktense marks have been wetted and dried, they’re permanent from then on out, and won’t budge when worked over with other media, even other wet media.

I’m thinking of trying to get at least one or two other waterbrushes (a flat and a small round), considering that aquarelles really lend themselves to plein-air drawing.  Waterbrushes store water in the handle of the brush and dispense it from the brush tip, enabling what feels like sketching without the need for a cup of clean water.  It really blurs the line between painting and drawing.

I also saw the Daler-Rowney acrylic inks in person, and they look much better in front of one’s own eyes, than they do on a computer monitor.  These were $7 a bottle, though, so I decided to hold off on purchasing a set until I know what colors, exactly, I want.

As regards ideas for the Special Projects class…I’ve gone back and am looking at the paper-folding mandala technique again.  However, I’m thinking of going in a direction where I’d be utilizing my compass and divisions of 360°, in addition to (or instead of) folds within the structure of the paper.  I think I need to play around with it more, though — not just think about it.


Now that I’ve actually published that last post, I’m feeling a bit better.  One of the things I can do when I get into a spot like that — not wanting to talk or write or draw or do anything but sleep — is exercise.

I was able to get in a good set of sit-ups before dinner.  Burned like crazy, but at least it’s something, and my belly stayed tucked for a little while.  If I can utilize my gender dysphoria to alter my body so that it is closer to what I need, at least it would be adaptive.

The only drawback to this is that I shouldn’t exercise right before bed.  If I do it in the morning or afternoon, though, it should help me stay awake when I need to, and sleep when I need to.

Gender fluidity. Kind of hard to deal with…

This post will not be about my art, so much as it is about why I’m not doing the art.  For better or worse, I’ve been asleep for the majority of the past two days.  Why?…I can imagine, but that is really what I think the rest of this post is about.

I did manage to work on the Morning Pages at about 6 AM today.  That much was good.  But I’ve been up and down all morning and afternoon, really.  While I was asleep…I’m thinking this was yesterday…I realized that one of the keys to my artistic block is that I’m afraid that if I work creatively and let my subconscious come into visibility, I’m going to see again that I want to be male.

That right there comes with a lot of baggage, because I’m gender-fluid, not stably trans* male.  This means that even if I did physically transition to male, my presentation and identity would not be male all of the time.  And that, then, puts me into a position where I’ll likely be seen at least part-time as a transgender woman of color, which is one of the most dangerous positions I could inhabit — even though I wasn’t assigned a male gender at birth.

That is, granted, that the feminine expression continues past the point at which my body starts to look passably male, and is not abandoned as simply a survival mechanism.  In my dream I was lamenting that I couldn’t have been offered hormone blockers earlier on to stop my chest from growing.  At this point, there’s no way to undo that damage except reconstructive surgery, which is something considered risky.

The alternative, which I keep thinking of and then not doing, is to be gender-fluid in a female body which is altered by exercise.  Logistically, this is a better position for me — I won’t be dependent on outside hormones for the rest of my life.  But it still leaves me with the easy slide back into “why can’t I be any form of woman,” because it’s easy for me to forget that I’m gender-fluid and at times want to be a woman…which I’m not.  Ever.  Even in my most feminine form, my gender is “femme (which could apply to males and females and intersex people),” not “woman.”  Going into the latter territory just messes with my head.


And it’s still hard to claim trans* male space, because of the machismo I’ve seen around that community.  That is, when I’m a man, I’m only temporarily so.  There is motion and flux involved between the poles of “male” and “female.”  I’m rarely ever stagnant…except when I’m not doing anything except sleeping.  Which, again, explains why I’ve been sleeping.  It’s an easy and temporary escape from having to deal with my body and life.

Maybe I should consider going back to one or more gender groups…just to remind myself that I am gender-variant on a masculine vector, and not entirely a woman…