Meditation

The heat still radiated out from the walls, although the sun had ceased to blaze about an hour ago.  Lee could feel the sweat sticking to her, evaporating all too slowly.

But how are you going to do it? she thought.

It amused her:  she worked surrounded by books, with the ability every day to take home a new writing, and yet something had stopped her from even opening anything that wasn’t based in reality.

Nearly every day, she tried to write, and even then found herself avoiding what she had once been happy to resign herself to, as life’s work.

Somewhere, buried under mountains of excuses, fears, and projections, lay the reason why.  But she didn’t know it, couldn’t see it.  There was too much in the way.

I have to open up if I want to be creativeWithout it, my work will suffer.

How many generations of artists had lived through eras of their work being constricted by the pressures of the market?  For how many years had Lee lived with the spectre of her own…shall we say…mental irregularities?

She hesitated to call herself “insane.”  Insanity was a legal term.  It meant a person couldn’t tell right from wrong.  She wasn’t insane in that sense.  But her fear,

if I let them see who I am, I’ll just show the world I am insane,

that stopped her.  Over the years it was possible to learn how to blend in, how not to frighten people by being too friendly, how to avoid glares as a reward for eye contact.

Even the word for it — schizophrenic

The vast majority of people, even educated people…even her professors — didn’t know what it meant.  They had a tendency to link the term with multiple personalities, which was not even close to what she meant when she used the term in a clinical (not pejorative) sense.

So she just didn’t use it.

Due to complications, she couldn’t even say, though, that when people did use the term wrongly, based in 19th-century dogma, that they used it inaccurately.  No one’s mind is wholeSo why am I so scared of opening the door to…that?

I’ve stood here, watching you, every day…writing these things out.  Have you forgotten your primary purpose?  Since you have gained to fortitude to begin to live, your fear has overwhelmed you.

Because now my employment depends on…

depends on appearing “normal?”  That’s why you chose the field you did.  You know it is normal within the arts and within letters not to be “normal.”

But I don’t know if I’ll stay,

You are not trapped.  Believe me when I say that I hear you where you fear becoming another like the ones you try to separate yourself from.  But you are not them.  You have not reached the point of spewing diatribes from upturned cartons on the sidewalk.  And I know a thinner line than you would like, divides you from those you smell before you see.  But you have care.  They don’t.

Then what separates us?

Lee looked over her shoulder at the dimming twilight.

I’ve never been hospitalized.  I’ve never been homeless.  I have access to medication and mental health facilities.

I don’t want to be hospitalized.  I don’t want to be homeless.  I don’t want to lose access to medication and mental health facilities.

This world was not made for me.

But you live here.  And if you want to be an artist — no.  If you want to make an impact on the world, you have got to face the idea that people will come to know you.  I know you’ve been hurt in the past, but you’re no longer a child.

I only live among children.

Listen to me.  Which part of you/I/us are you talking from, now?

STOP BEING CONTROLLED BY FEAR AND DO YOUR DUTY.

can you live fearlessly?

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More archives??!

I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that, in addition to helping clean out the junk room, today, I also read 25 pages when I didn’t want to (the majority of which were read tonight, in lieu of writing, here).  At least this textbook makes sense — I can’t say as much for some of the other ones.

I think I’ve found that I really do need quiet and solitude to be able to study easily…which is hard when it’s extended periods of quiet and solitude.

At the very least…I don’t have to worry about a big assignment (or two) due by Monday:  this much is good.

Also…I was able to find and take a peek through some of the drawing pads and random character sketches I had been doing…when I was younger, let’s say:  these things go back to high school, and through my undergrad years.  At this point I’m wondering if I always did have constant mental “noise,” only it was channeled into bits of storytelling.  I used to attribute it to having such a high degree of intelligence (*cough*) that I would get bored in classes, and be able to pay attention by listening and taking notes, as I occupied myself also by drawing.

Of course, though, that was before the more serious troubles kicked in…

I’m actually kind of surprised at the level of quality I was able to get at in a lot of those sketches (it happens when one is doing it constantly and in narrative form:  meaning that there are certain emotions one is pushing oneself towards expressing), even though most of it is linework.  I seemed to have begun to progress into shading…and more realistic drawing.

I remember being intimidated around modeling faces, though (I am fairly certain I was still just working with colored pencil and watercolor at this time)…though when I put that extra effort into going deeper with my work, it showed.  I was just…really young, and scared of messing up my images with color and shading/modeling.  (tip:  you can’t progress if you’re afraid to fail.)  I hadn’t really taken any life drawing classes at the time, though, either:  I knew how to cartoon (from copying manga), but that was majorly it.

By that I mean, cartooning is ideally a form abstracted from knowing first how to draw from observation.  If you don’t know how to draw from observation, you won’t have the groundwork to create your own abstractions…and ultimately won’t know how they work.  This means that when you try to go more realistic…you won’t necessarily know where to go more realistic, or how.  It’s possible to end up using someone else’s formula for abstraction but not know why the artist emphasized and de-emphasized specific areas…and mimicking that without knowing the deeper purpose is basically…derivative art.  Which, obviously, has been a trend in certain periods in Art History.

I’m thinking…either Baroque or Rococo as versus High Renaissance, though I can’t remember the exact name of the movement (this was actually a topic of discussion in one of my old Art History classes).  What happened in this movement was that people would try to paint like the Renaissance, “Old Masters,” (though they weren’t as old, then) particularly where it came to human figures.  The Renaissance Old Masters had perfected the art of drawing humans as they were built, and they did this through extended studies of the human body and anatomy (some study was actually done on cadavers).

With regard to the later artists who mimicked them, however: these artists’ figures would be criticized as disjointed and piecemeal.  Someone’s upper arm, for example, may appear perfectly formed, just as a Michaelangelo, but the figure overall is being viewed from multiple angles at the same time (something Cubism later intentionally exploited, although Picasso, for example, could paint and draw naturalistically), and the shoulder and elbow appear to be physically dislocated.  That is, to the perfection of the parts, unity suffered; and because of that, the piece became cacophonous instead of harmonious.  Beyond that, people were trying to emulate past masters, to the detriment of their own expression.  There’s a difference between putting down roots to grow flowers and cutting off a blooming branch — or arranging cut (or silk) flowers, that is.

This is — one of the traps — that I’ve had to deal with, which isn’t as evident when one hasn’t been through a few reps of Drawing classes and been snubbed by a few Art students.  Most of my work isn’t figurative — but that’s largely because I got tired of drawing people.  And I probably got tired of drawing people because of questioning why I was doing what I was doing, losing faith in myself…and, likely, starting a new medication (which happened right before graduation, and subsequently convinced me that I could no longer easily write).

But to be frank, most of that time just after graduation is either a blur or outright missing from my current memory.

And no…I’m actually not sure that I don’t have some form of dissociation.  In any case, my life is more together than it has been for a while.

I also noticed something else, when going through my old sketchpads…which is that the paranormal stuff has been with me from nearly the beginning of the time I’ve been developing as an artist and writer.  I’m not planning to get into this deeply in this post, but it is actually notable that I’ve been dealing with concepts of ghosts and “good demons” for about as long as I’ve been writing for pleasure.

I do have a set of ideas as to why this is…and it revolves around screwed-up middle school, high school and undergrad dynamics, along with feeling silent and invisible, rejected, in pain, and comforted by things no one else could sense.

But I’ve been over that history for a good amount of my life.  The point is that this is not a new thing, and that dealing with the prospect of getting back into writing means that I’ll need to allow myself to get back to my roots…which means permitting myself to venture into territory I’ve blocked off for years.  Some of which may put me into an idiosyncratic enclave; or maybe I should say, “some of which may make me unpopular with the people who encouraged my demonization.”

Obviously, there are feelings behind this, but I doubt that here and now is the right time to get into it.

Thinking ahead: webcomics?

Taking a brief hiatus from my color work to think on something that caught my imagination last night.  This is the concept of publishing:  specifically, a webcomic.  I had (and have) been thinking on traditional printing, but if I wanted to work in full color, the economic barriers are much lower online; and my potential audience, much higher.

Of course, though, I’m planning on becoming an Information specialist, so I don’t…think? I would have to worry much about being paid.  If I learn web coding, I can also publish this in the manner I choose.  If I printed this stuff, though, it would be a financial loss not to charge for it.  Economically speaking, it’s still a loss if I spend time on it instead of doing other things, but if it makes me happy, that’s something else.

Part of what spurred this off was having run across an old posting of my own, which reminded me of a resource I’d forgotten (now found).  It is only a few pages of notes and a false start for something that looked more like creative nonfiction than a script:  but these are enough to spark off that which I did have in mind, back then.  As a note for the future:  I really should have recorded that dream I referenced, close to the time I had it.  Making it public is better than losing it entirely.

From what I can recall, it tied in my old/first fictive story (dealing with kind “demons”) with the latter/newer one (dealing with mental illness), and a few things wandering around my head which have to do with varying notions of immortality, the paranormal, ghosts, and aliens…it’s not what it looks like, let me assure you.  (This is not the one about the ex-Buddhist warlock [that one could be really fun to write, actually], or the one focused on jewelry and environmental exploitation.)

And now, right, I’m thinking that comics publishers must need librarians, too.  The major issue is that I am now on a data organization and retrieval path, not a Special Libraries one.  But we will see what the future holds.

Ah, wait:  nah.  My current path looks hella more adapted to me specifically.  😉  I’ve actually gotten a bit distracted by this at the moment, though.  It would seem “fun” to work as a librarian for a publishing house, especially where it comes to comics, but I am guessing that those jobs are few and far between.  I’ve also read that traditional publishing is shrinking due to Web influence (not to mention self-publishing), but I can’t recall where or when I read that.

Especially because I’m more of an indy type (when it comes to my own interests)…I think…than a DC or Marvel type…and as the print commercial comics world would seem to be dominated by males (even, it seems, when the target market is female — which doesn’t…really make sense), I could foresee some challenges (not least, being called to represent “women” when I don’t consider myself a woman).  But I’ve been the first female to do a lot of things, which is probably why I needed the shelter of Library & Information Science in the first place.

I have a couple of pages of little scribbled notes here from about 2 AM last night; I’ll see what I can make out.  The first portion of it is a thumbnail for a drawing/painting which I didn’t get to work on, today (I didn’t really wake up until 2 PM, which left me with three hours of daylight).  I had been thinking of working that painting on a small tile and seeing what became of it, but I think it is better to work with the precision of watercolor, as versus acrylics, right now.  Acrylics don’t require masking, but detail can be difficult to obtain on a small scale with heavy-body paints.

Anyhow (this does relate to my notes), through the rest of this week, Blick appears to be having in-store holiday clearance sales.  I’m pretty much too sick to risk going (I’m hoping to be healed up enough not to be immediately infected by something else, by the weekend), but it did get me thinking on what I might try out if I could.

At the beginning of last night’s “trying to go to sleep” stint, I was trying to figure out how to do layout without resorting to my Wacom.  There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just old and kind of awkward to use (where do I put this when I’m not using it?), and without Adobe Illustrator or another vector-drawing program (or maybe the Pen tool in Photoshop CC, which isn’t available in Elements), its uses are limited where it comes to comic production (scribbling in color fills on Photoshop is less than ideal, though I wouldn’t know about this unless I had been exposed to Layer Masking some years ago).

At some point I did realize that I could outline a selection, then use Paste Into Selection in order to insert a scanned drawing into a page that I could later publish, maybe as a .PDF.  Thus, there is no need for me to make a completed page, then scan it in and only do cleanup on it.  So long as I have a template or rough draft of what I want, and keep the images I’m inserting to the right ratio, I should be able to scale and insert the image, and assemble the page using software.  This basically negates the need for a translucent painting foundation like Yupo (of which I had been thinking about getting a tiny pad [should it exist] to try out).

Basically, last night I was trying to figure out how to transfer knowledge of a finished layout from my layout paper over to Bristol board or hot-press watercolor paper for coloring, in some way so that I wouldn’t be drawing the same thing three times:  one rough, one on Layout paper for inking, one which would allow water-based coloring media (though the same is possible by scanning the lineart and then adding color at 100% transparency on the computer).  Yupo would solve this problem by being the paper used both for inking and for coloring (there is a translucent variety), but it’s pretty expensive.  I also don’t know if the inks will stay put on it.

LOW-TECH, BABY.  😉  Well, kind of…?  Not really.  Yupo is polypropylene.

I probably should have marked the time that I realized that I didn’t have to pre-assemble the images, but I didn’t.  😉  In any case, I can create the images separately, even if on Yupo (allowing for disastrous failure) and then assemble them on the computer.  This method also allows for higher-resolution scans, though I’ve experienced my last instance of Photoshop (not the current one…yet) to be a bit irregular where it comes to what resolution anything is kept when imported into a new file.

I should also consider utilizing my Wacom with Creative Cloud services…(or saving money for a newer Wacom, with Creative Cloud services.  The biggest issue for me is whether they will stop billing me when I tell them to stop billing me, and what I can do if they don’t.)

I am also in the process of realizing that there are a number of possible visual formats one could utilize to publish a webcomic, and at the moment, I’m not sure which is best — or which will utilize the least amount of programming knowledge!  Today I started looking through the Reader here for examples, and found a really nice webcomic, Brainchild by Suzanne Geary.  It seems to fall in line with something I would like, at least aesthetically (I haven’t gotten the chance to read much of it, yet, so the story is a bit beyond me at the moment).

The largest issue I can see with web publishing is the scale factor:  how to make sure that the text in my images is actually of a size that is readable, and that the images are actually large enough to appreciate, even on a tablet.  It isn’t so much of an issue when part of an image is given and then the reader scrolls down to get the rest of the panels, but putting a complete page onto a computer screen…may be different.  It would also be different if I designed the pages to be able to be printed and bound, as versus simply read online…which, I’ve gotta say, at this point I’m leaning against, if only because it will make it more difficult to rip off.  😉

Well, yes and no.  🙂  Not only will it make it more difficult to print, it will be vastly easier for me to produce.  ^_^;;  (Yes, I have indeed tried to use bleeds and gutters…the post-print binding and trimming of which, is probably the biggest pain about any of this.)

Gah.  I’ve got to find some way to learn to code…

Bindings of joy

Before I forget this again, I wanted to note it down, somewhere — where I’ll remember to look for it and see it.

I have the recurring thought of creating a story where my main character is getting married to someone who feeds off of others’ happiness.

I mean, literally:  feeds off of others’ happiness.

This being already has a number of mates, may be rumored to be some sort of supernatural creature.  Cannot survive without others’ happiness, which makes him work hard so that they are happy.  My protagonist is very likely going to be male, but that isn’t going to count for much (other than no possibility of pregnancy).

The main question is whether, when in a situation from which you can’t easily escape, being happy is a fair trade for freedom.

I should flesh this out, offline.  But first, I’ll let you know about my dull, dull day.

Wanting to read, again.

Wanting to read…again?!  When did I stop?

Oh, right!  After I graduated with the English degree.

It may have been having had to read a certain story relating to having an insurmountably dull life, the only “adventure” (I hate this word and its seeming embeddedness in colonialist and neocolonialist narratives) being in his head, too many times.  (I can’t remember the name of this short story.  If anyone can, comments are open.)

I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the required reading for my English degree made me want to stop reading.  As I’ve written before, I took the English placement test at my community college (I felt like I was missing English I, which I skipped over because of my AP test score back sometime before 2000) and got 98% in English comprehension.

I read too well, or with too much free-association and paranoia, to avoid seeing the twisted mental states of too many authors.  Not to mention the warped politics most of them were influenced by.  Of course, though, that’s assuming that politics now are better, and they’re pretty much, not.  In about 70 years, I’m sure that 20-year-olds will be looking back at our age with judgment for what we’re doing now (global warming, sustainability, race relations, the way gender and sexual minorities [GSM] are treated) which echoes how we look back on segregation.  That still won’t mean that they’ll necessarily be better, though I’m sure they’ll think they will be.  Because they’ll be 20.

Anyhow, I already had a precarious mental state at the time I was reading and analyzing texts in University.  I didn’t want to be immersed in others’ records of pain and imbalance, as well…

But yeah, that’s me, being delicate.  Like when I had to read Ceremonies by Leslie Marmon Silko and Beloved by Toni Morrison (both in high school; alas, University was not as worldly), and I was already depressed.  These books did not help.  It’s like taking a distressed kid into a haunted house.  Just, no.

(Which, then, calls up the fact that my teacher probably couldn’t tell that I was in severe distress that was triggered by the readings…probably because I couldn’t show emotion on my face or in my voice anymore, and I didn’t have memories of happiness anymore, so I had nothing to compare it to.  It’s like what happens when a person with hypothermia stops shivering.)

I think it would have been okay if they were not required (i.e. forced) reading.  Or if I had actually had my depression at a stable state further away from the extreme of “trying to wait out high school so I can get away from these bigots and actually start a real life,” at that point in time.  Then again, I’ve always been a bit more intelligent than average (and have noted myself for my venomous potential), so I’m sure my words of condemnation would have been a bit more scathing than what I relate above.

I really can’t remember the last work of fiction I’ve read.  Nor have I written much, in a while.  The last attempt to do so was Scriptwriting class (which I dropped out of, because of race tensions), and that wasn’t good.  We were drawing on autobiography, which is OK if your autobiography isn’t full of pain like mine happens to be.  I’d say that I lived for about a decade (14-24 years of age) with low-grade depression.  It wasn’t under control until after I got out of college.


It’s still an open question, whether and as to what degree that which one produces ought to be based on life experience.  Don’t tell anyone, but she was writing love scenes and death scenes before she was old enough to see them in the movies.

It’s very obvious, at least now, the fact that most of her material would have come from the soap operas which played during the day when she was stuck at home.  Now, as a person about to enter her mid-thirties, she can see how incredibly ridiculous most of those depictions are.  But they played, then, as she puzzled over homework that might not be completed until 2 AM, through tutoring and tears.

(Her school was known for its rigorous coursework.)

Going to bed at 2 AM and waking at 6:30 AM, night after night; and being isolated for hours doing homework, day after day; is not a recipe for an emotionally healthy, fully awake, or tall, scholar.

One of the reasons she focused on Creative Writing in the first place, is that it was one of the only constants in her life.  It is the same here:  the only reason this method of relating to the reader continues at this time is that something feels incomplete and as relating to a gap in consciousness, if no writing occurs.  What she hasn’t told you is that her teacher in 5th grade recognized this trait of hers — to describe everything in full and fine detail — and told her that she would remember it, on the last day of class.

Of course, that teacher told everyone one thing she would remember about them…

She was like that.

Stories to tell.  There are so many stories to tell.  Why realism?

The form of writing she trained in was essentially Literature, though she has had aspirations to work within both Science Fiction and Horror.  (Horror, just because she likes to freak people out sometimes, and it seems rather droll to purposely avoid it.  It’s probably akin to sadomasochism in that one must find those who want to and consent to being freaked out, and then freak out those people, as versus others.)  And then, there is the ever-present specter of the possibility of both writing and drawing the same story — or stories.  It’s natural, given that she used to work out her stories via images.

This was back when Sailor Moon was on the air — she didn’t tell you she had a dream where she inhabited Sailor Uranus this morning, though?  She still can’t figure out what it meant, only that the proto-Mistress-9/Sailor Saturn was, for some reason, a purple iridescent crystal contained in a vial, ready to consume Pure Hearts.  And Uranus and Saturn were the only two missing from the group.  Oddly — or appropriately — enough, Uranus was busy swinging back and forth over a chasm between two worlds.  (It was a long swing.)

It never really made sense, why Sailor Uranus would be happy to wear that outfit…especially as Uranus wore male-gendered clothing most of the time.  “If I’d made Sailormoon,” she would say, “Uranus would be in a #$&@ing tuxedo, just like Tuxedo Kamen.  I can’t imagine that she would be happy to wear that miniskirt.”  Maybe it just made everyone else look better when she threw her attack?  Kamen wouldn’t look upstaged, and Uranus looked powerful compared to all the other women?

In any case, the stories she used to write actually came out first, in images.  They only took written form when she couldn’t draw quickly enough; only became typed when she couldn’t write fast enough.

Maybe we should play with this, Uranus, though.  Only — it might make more sense to take the idea of her, not the character of her from within Sailormoon — but that awesome butch person from the dream — and work somehow with the idea of balance and of swinging between two worlds (though, I’m aware, there are probably at least three in play, here.  One, the world of women; two, the world of men; three, the world[s] of queer people, including not-straight women [Neptune], and trans* men, and genderqueer people, which are often enough separate).

Yeah.  Maybe I’ll make a story about a queer female person….keeping in mind that I shouldn’t make her ideal.  After all, Uranus had a big issue with xenophobia…

Graphic novel dreams

I’ve finally finished reading installment #6 of FAKE by Sanami Matoh.  It’s likely a good thing to say that I read it in part because I’ve been away from graphic novels for so long.  I’ve been away from fiction in general for a very long time (not counting folk tales), and so reading anything which I know is entirely imaginary at all is a big step forward for me.  Graphic novels and comics are a good bit less intimidating than adult fiction, largely because of the length issue.  I’d wanted to read Deadpool Takes Las Vegas for the cheese factor, but someone checked it out before I could get to it.  XD

When I was younger I had a dream of working for someplace like Dark Horse.  At the time, someone I knew was working in a comic book store and would bring comics home for me.  A particular favorite was Bone by Jeff Smith, though after a certain point it became clear that the story and art was no longer the same.  If you followed the comics, you’d know why…and also why I’ve been hesitant to get into art as a career at all, given that you pretty much depend on good eyesight and a steady hand, if you’re drawing the material yourself.  FAKE in particular has had somewhat of an emotional impact on me, despite the fact that it takes place in an idealized version of New York, with somewhat imaginary/idealized/relaxed gender standards.  😉  I did realize, as well, that there’s only one main female character in the series.  I can’t recall issues #1-5 very clearly, but I know Carol/Cal is the only one who continues to be important through issue #6.

Anyhow, the reason I mention FAKE and Bone at all is that certain classes from the Animation major at the college I attend would likely be helpful if I wanted to create a comic or webcomic.  If I did, it would almost certainly be graphic-novel-type material, and it would almost certainly be intended for an adult audience.  I did train in Writing, and so it would seem that I’ve got the training I need to be able to work on either a script for a graphic novel run, or a work entirely in fiction (no pictures).  I’d forgotten what an emotional impact fiction can have, and it’s pretty much of as much value as nonfiction, given that nonfiction shows the way things are, and fiction shows the way things could be.

I’m set up to attend Intermediate Drawing come Fall, so I should be able to see if I still like drawing enough to even want to do a comic.  There was the possibility that I could have taken a drawing-for-animation class this summer, but I thought I had enough on my plate with attempting to explore the Web Design thing.  I’m not sure if Animation is precisely what I want to do — I’d think Graphic Novels would be more up my alley — but there’s no reason why I can’t participate in the Animation track, if it would help.  And hey, if I like drawing, I can take more Drawing and Figure Drawing classes, and pretty much make my own curriculum.  I do already have a BA, after all.

Anyhow, it’s something to think about.  Not anything that would matter if I find I dislike drawing too much, but you don’t even really have to draw realistically to do a graphic novel — the drawings just need to convey emotion, be clear, and remain consistent.

I should get back on reading on how to write a story just basically, though.  I haven’t written much (in fiction) for almost a decade now because my imagination would drag me under.  It’s just really powerful stuff — at least in my case.  And I needed to get my head clear and find out who I was.  Now that I’ve made some headway there and am feeling fairly secure, maybe I can get back to being creative again — knowing that my imagination is not necessarily at the wheel of my creativity.  I am at the wheel of my creativity.  And I can direct my story, regardless of the fact that my imagination tends to catastrophize and run away from me.  Fiction is a craft, after all, not just brain vomit.

I should probably remember this post…

Note:  I was getting some clickjacking attack warnings last time I posted, under the “Like” button, which is why I disabled the option.  I’ll post again with “Liking” enabled, and see if it comes up.  But I think it may have been a false positive.