(Preliminary) reasons to write

I just got back from a library more useful than the one I work at 😉 (I forgot how nice that library is), and am going to take a quick break here to note down some things I found last night, when writing.

I took about 20 minutes last night to begin writing out the narrative of the story I’ve mentioned recently. I’m actually feeling very good about it, and about having taken some time last night, to read in Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It’s been a long time since I’ve dealt in fiction, but the value of it came to me when I was trying to fall asleep.

Fiction allows one to try out being different people and making different life decisions than the ones one has made, or possibly might make. It allows one to look at life from multiple perspectives, without necessarily validating one over the other (though to be honest, I don’t particularly strive for objectivity in my fiction!).

One of the things which has stopped me from reading fiction in the past has been the sense that some authors (particularly in the Classics) wrote for the reason of reinforcing and validating their own worldviews. I’m not sure anymore that this is the case; as I’ve mentioned before, my memories of my young adulthood are distorted by untreated illness affecting my cognition, and as such, they’re unreliable.

This is kind of a difficult truism to combat, though. If one believes it, it may prevent them from reading fiction at all, and from writing it as well. If one doesn’t read any more narrative after that, one just continues to hold the belief while the world around one moves on. It might not even help if one tries to get out of it by reading creative prose; often, we see what we are looking for, particularly when there is no one “right” interpretation of a text.

It’s generally accepted that in literary arts, as in fine arts, there is no one “right” or “correct” interpretation, by the way…because not even the author can know such a thing. There’s just too much subconscious and unconscious content for this to be true, and often the interpretation of a text has as much or more to do with the reader than it has to do with the writer.

In order for multiple divergent readings to be possible, we have to grant that the work stands on its own (that is, in fiction, we don’t judge the author for what they have written, even if we do judge the work itself) and that not one reading is “right.”

Hmm. Maybe that’s where I get my philosophical relativism from.

I also at times have felt a bit of…trepidation at letting the reader inside of my head, because I’ve attempted literary analysis on my own work before, and in the past it hasn’t been pretty. (Don’t do that, by the way. Especially not if you’re concurrently dealing with mental illness and cognitive distortion, as I was.)

What I have found is that taking time out to write enhances my productivity, rather than reducing it, as I had assumed. It takes time to write, but then it also helps when you come to things with a fresh mind, not burdened by unexpressed ideas. (Unexpressed ideas can turn into unexpressed obsessions, which is where writing serves well as a method of exorcism. Once you write it down, you can stop repeating it to yourself in an attempt to remember it.)

The problem with unexpressed ideas, as well, is that before they’re put into a format where they become objects, it’s difficult to manipulate them and see the deeper meanings behind them. Whereas, I know as a writer that when I encode things into English (as my first language), I start making connections and realizing ideas that I didn’t know were there.

And these two reasons can be enough reason for me to write, for now. I’m sure more (real) reasons to write will arise as I actually get back into fiction writing.

In any case, last night I didn’t get a lot written, so far as length was concerned — I was writing (legibly) by hand in a small sketchbook, which reduces my writing speed significantly. In turn, that makes me think about my phrasing (not to mention the art of handwriting), more.

I did, however, begin to lay the foundation for a larger story…and I was surprised at how much was already there, going unexpressed. It might actually turn into a novella (or alternately, graphic novel series).

In addition, I was immediately able to see opportunities to expand on what I had begun. This is where my degree in Creative Writing actually helps!

I guess it’s nice to feel multi-talented. 🙂 Or that my undergraduate degree is actually useful for something.

I think that’s about enough time spent, here. Of course, there’s always more to say, but I will post it when it’s ready to come out. 🙂


88 hours to go…ganbarou! (i.e. strive!)

Yes…I am tired.  Even after going to bed at 6:30 PM last night and waking after 12 PM today (though I don’t think I really got up until 2 PM).  I’m fairly certain that it’s a combination of the weather, and my immune system working hard to fight something off.  (Maybe putting on my glasses will help with the burning eyes…)

In any case, I spent the waking time today which was not spent on eating (or, minorly, laundry), working on our Group Project, due in…four days.  I have a quiz, but that will be OK.  I also have three papers, one of which is almost finished.  Everything — including the new Discussion topic — is due in four days.

What’s really irritating is that two of the papers, plus the Discussion topic, are for the same class:  the class which I am really disliking, at this point.  I’m going to try not to let that irritate me more, but it’s worth noting.  I guess I can complain about it more after I get the stuff turned in, because working myself up into anger prior to that is just going to make it harder to get the essays done.

In any case, right now it is slightly after 10 PM where I’m at, meaning I have about 88 free hours to get everything done–!!!  Though I’ll probably be asleep for half of those.  I’m hoping that the work I put in for the group today will be adequate enough so I don’t look like I’m slacking.  The good part is that the rest of the group has also begun work on the project.

I should finish up my Interview Paper first thing tomorrow, start on my Competency paper, and start on my Privacy paper.  I can also work on my second Quiz, which looks easy enough.  Actually, maybe I should take a look at the Quiz, tonight, and see what I have to look up on my own.  The course evaluations can wait until last-minute; I don’t mind not getting the bonus for turning them all in, on time.

The other thing I need to do is find a Patron Conduct Policy — oh nevermind, just did that.  🙂

See?!  It’s not so hard!

In any case, I’ve taken one of my two upcoming work days off, which should give me a little extra breathing room.

And either on the 12th or the 13th, you bet I’m going out there to get my new pens!  I’ve been looking at my notebooks and have decided that 8.5″x11″ or slightly smaller (to trim bleeds) is good enough for a comic book.  I actually have (or had) one that is around that size (called “The Generator” [knowing the title apparently does squat for looking it up on Google because of all the “comix generators”]; it was published as half of a “making comics” book), but I’m not sure exactly where it is, at the moment.  Maybe I gave it away?  That one was all in black and white, though…hm.

Maybe I should take a trip to the comic store, too…or at least take a look in the Graphic Novel section for adults, at my library…or — ha! — in the Graphic Novel sections of the nearest glut of libraries around me…

I should use them more if I work at them, yes…?

Beginning work on a creative writing/illustration project.

Hmm.  I haven’t gotten to start on my schoolwork yet, today.  I know I should prioritize work for my Database class, as we have a group work session coming up.  What I have done is begin listing out worldbuilding attributes of the story that I want to write (and probably illustrate).  I haven’t started with the story’s universe or irrelevant details, so much as the known attributes of the story which I’m already certain of.

(I’m trying to hold to my original vision because of realizing that the imagery I’ve been dealing with for a while, actually is fairly loaded with relevant symbolism.)

I started this work today because I tried to start writing from nothing, and realized that most of my writing recently has been either on the blog, or academic; not creative.  I also remembered what happened when I tried to go about this the way I had been taught in my English classes:  no planning, no research, train-of-thought.  What that has gotten me in the past (when taking on a novel-length project) is a lot of wasted effort.

If I can get the facts and plot synopsis straight at the beginning, it will give me something concrete to build around.  Sometimes, just to get the structure straight, actually thinking this stuff out in writing beforehand, does help (even if, yes, it is in outlines, or other documents which the general reader never sees).  And I don’t mean rough drafts; I mean prep work for rough drafts.

This is needed, at least, when I’m doing something like this, and the story has an indefinite length.  It may be short; it may become a series of short stories (which would be particularly sweet — and ideal — if I dealt with this series in graphic format); it may be novel length, with chapters.  I’m hoping it doesn’t become a saga like Dune…though that is a possibility, particularly if more complications come up later; and I should try and be open to it.  Even though I’m kind of not.  😉  I kind of don’t want that.

I’m fairly certain that this series will be aimed at an adult audience, at least.  I’m thinking that…due to the (mature) subject matter, it isn’t meant for kids or teens — although it would have been a nice thing for me to find, before I was diagnosed (mental health issues are a major theme).

Something that I didn’t mention in my last two posts last night is that I had a dream near waking, which ties two broad branches of storylines which might otherwise be separate — and one plotline which I had left off of since late college — into one whole.

What is becoming apparent as I note down the essential elements of the story:  This story isn’t set in this society, although it is generated from it.  But just realizing that it is in no way this world, is really freeing.

There have also been things happening in current events which are kind of showing me that things are possible that I had closed my mind off to, as a teen.  Kind of scary, but it does broaden my horizons.

I have also come to the point of not knowing just what the subject of my art should be.  I read that illustration is not defined by a style, but rather illustration is defined by its role as support to a main body of information (text, in this case).  If I work on this story, it will give me material to draw from in my art.

I should post this and get to work.

thinking on getting back into Creative Writing

Hey, there.

I just finished my second full day of work in a row.  Next, it’s a half-day tomorrow, and then work work work on the Drawing portfolio, which I only have until Wednesday night to really complete.  Considering I only had two weeks to work after I decided what I’d be doing…I’m guessing that it isn’t so bad.

I’m still undecided as to what to do about this blog.  It’s fairly clear at this point that it’s open to the general public, including people who would take issue with me for whatever reason, and including people who would actually appreciate what I post.  It’s also fairly clear that I actually can make some posts password-protected and then share the password elsewhere, along with the notification of my entry.  I didn’t see how it would be appropriate before, but now I do.

Earlier, I was speaking with a co-worker about how a Creative Writing degree really doesn’t lead directly to a job.  It kind of parallels a Studio Art degree, in that it teaches one how to express oneself through a given medium (language, or visual communications), but it doesn’t teach one the base of what it would be that one would be communicating.

So, in my case, I have pretty good Critical Thinking skills; I have extremely good English Comprehension.  I can start out with a blank page and draft out a record of my thoughts, then develop that into something that is high enough quality to be acceptable…though I’ve found from my experience in the Library Science program and in my Communications and Art History classes that sometimes — especially with nonfiction writing — notes (and separate versions) are essential.  In that case, I’d be starting with a blank notebook page and jotting down ideas, then attempting organization through outline form, then composing them.

It’s actually a very different process than fiction writing, I’ve found.

In fiction writing, we’re (I’m) starting with a feeling or mood or sensation that we’re (I’m) trying to get across, and attempting to elicit that in the reader by a trail of language that synthesizes a meaningful experience in the reader’s mind.

Or at least, that is how I seem to think I work, at this moment.

It calls to mind the impact of an organizing principle uniting the work, which is different from artwork only in that an artwork…can communicate this more or less at once; one does not have to crawl over the lines and forms like an ant, as is essential in contour drawing, to receive the message.  But often, without studying the visual work, as in a critique situation, we know it makes us feel something, but we don’t know how or why.

As I’ve said before, at least in person, Creative Writing parallels Studio Art in that it teaches one how to express oneself.  It doesn’t teach one what to express.  An English degree parallels an Art History degree in that it teaches one how to pick apart the work of others for meaning and context, however, it does not give the other side — being a creator of that work — nearly as much training, in my experience.  In fact, in my experience, it would seem to discourage it, through showing excellent examples of writing which people then think they aren’t good enough to compete with.  And/or, it shows writing which appears so twisted at its core that it causes people like me to be hesitant to put anything out there because of what I may unintentionally say about myself, which can be decoded by a skilled enough reader.

Maybe it would have been different if I’d gone to Stanford or something, instead of a State University.  I’m not sure.

So the gist of what I’m trying to say is that I do think that I have a good grounding as to how to do what I want to do; I just am not sure exactly what it is I want to do, yet.

At work today, I was scanning the reading guides of my Library system, because it was freakin’ dead.  I mean, I had pretty much nothing to do, for an hour, and I was stuck on desk.  I eventually ended up repopulating the already populous Welcome pamphlets because I felt bad that I wasn’t doing anything.  But anyway, I was browsing the Library website, and looking — particularly — into the Graphic Novel synopses.  I feel like I could be powerful in this area, if I committed to it.  However, Graphic Novels, like regular novels, generally don’t pay the bills.  Like Fine Art, generally, doesn’t pay the bills.

I suppose it speaks to how much creativity is valued in this society, but I digress.

It’s possible that I need to throw out that bit of information where my teachers were saying you have to be a prolific reader to be a good writer, because right now, all that bit of information is doing, is stopping me from writing.  I think I’m getting back onto the train of doing something with my writing skills — more than writing corporate communications.  I just have to find out what it is that I actually want to write about.

I’m very sure that I have a wealth of information to draw upon; it’s just that most of the interesting stuff could get me in trouble.  😉  Which, then, puts up another block, right?

Maybe I should write with the aim of getting in trouble, or at least knowing that no matter what I say, if I say something, there are going to be people who take issue with it?  It’s not a problem I had as a kid, because as a kid, I was mostly silent.  Which is, in fact, the reason I started writing — I had things to say that I felt I couldn’t say, but I could write them.

And so, when I was a kid, and I was writing for myself, with no one but me reading my manuscripts, writing was this kind of beautiful release of life energy that I’d been bottling up.  And now, I realize that in formats like you see in this blog, I’m indeed confronting the very specter of what I’d been avoiding when I was silent.  That is to say, disapprobation by people who may be hostile to me, for whatever reason — even if they have no clue who I am.

It’s different to write for yourself, than it is to write for a reader.  How do I get the reader to see what I’m seeing?  How do I get the reader to feel what I feel?  As versus…a need to vent and spill all of this I’ve been carrying, which no one knows about.  Purely because I cannot contain it any longer, and it is burdening me with its weight.

What I need to do, maybe?  Do I need to start back from Square One and read books on how to write?  Do I need to just write?  In painting and drawing, the most essential part of the process is just sitting down with committed time to do the work.  Not just research — but actual painting.  Actual drawing.  Without that, nothing gets done.

That could be the reason I still have this blog.  I need a place to vent, and as I’m venting, I’m getting better at communicating.  The better I get at communicating, the more others know exactly what and how I feel, and why.

It’s something I’m not so skilled at, in speech.

I need to practice my writing.  Whatever I end up writing, be that fiction or nonfiction…I feel like it has to be grounded in my reality, or at least in my psychic space.  That means, at least eventually, exposing myself to the world.  Exposing myself to the world means, sometimes, being judged.  But to avoid judgment is to be voiceless.

I just need to work on standing up for myself…and writing about things that matter to me.

So I guess I write character-driven narratives.

I was doing a little bit of research on plot-driven versus character-driven writing last night.  Today as I surfed back through my entries, I found a post on the screenwriting class which mentioned some material about how I approach my writing.  In specific, most of the conflicts which drive my my writings are internal.

From what I’ve read, it appears that my approach is clearly character-driven (the central thread is the internal state[s] of the character[s]) and that the screenwriting class was clearly plot-driven (the central thread is an overarching “adventure”; character is defined by the necessities of plot).  This in part determines why that class and I didn’t agree.  (It also contextualizes my method-acting attempts [I know nothing of method acting as it is done in reality, but] — I’d take on the mindset of one of my characters for a time…)

And, well, today…I got my hands on a couple of books about careers in the field of art.  Apparently, the comics market was saturated at the time one of these books was written (2006), though I find it more likely that what was happening at that time was an influx of manga from Japan causing something of a scattering effect in the U.S. comic industry.  This could well have triggered a boom in interest in younger artists around creating graphic novels (because of the new possibilities demonstrated with the medium, which were evident in manga), along with pushing American comics out to the economic periphery.

It may well be that this isn’t quite what happened, but from my perspective as someone who was interested in the storytelling and art present in manga (and not so much in American comics), I’d certainly suspect this as a possible explanation.

Anyhow — I have yet to determine whether I’ll decide to make my living (or part of it) via art or writing.  I’m hoping that after this next semester is done, I’ll have a better sense of where I want to be.  If I avoid taking Modern Art History in Fall, I can use some of the money I’m earning towards (finally) getting a Driver’s License, and I should have enough time to research both art and writing careers — if I can stay focused on it.

And I’ve got to say that I am kind of intrigued by the possibility of writing nonfiction books, which is apparently a more stable market than fiction.  I have a few possible slots I could fit into, but I will save my proposal brainstorming for myself, and get to bed right now.

In progress painting (Arboretum/Global Warming)

It’s really interesting how more people are drawn to images than to words.  🙂  Something to take note of as an artist/writer, going forward…

…as, for example, I’d thought that people would look down on Graphic Novels as a medium of communication, but if the Web is in any way a signifier of taste, people would be drawn to books with images more than text alone.

Here we go; this is the image I’m currently working on as regards Global Warming, from the reference sketch and photo I took at the Arboretum.

We had to incorporate the theme of Global Warming somehow into our paintings.  My idea was the threat of fire.
We had to incorporate the theme of Global Warming somehow into our paintings. My idea was the threat of fire.

Here is what it looked like, on Monday (I worked on it yesterday in class…and we all got a time extension for a couple of weeks):

This is what the image looked like, before yesterday.
This is what the image looked like, before yesterday.

What is really interesting to me is to see this thing develop.  It’s still kind of scary, though.  🙂

Feeling more serious and happy than ever. Things are coming together.

(Advance notice:  apologies for this post being ill-placed in the Reader.  I just really felt the need to mark Categories and Tags to reference the mental state and direction I’m facing, now.  This post addresses life and career goals, getting college in line with them, and basically realizing how much I like what I’m doing now, and how I might get where I want to be, with an emphasis on what I can do now.)

I really should be going to bed about now, but I feel the need to post.

I was writing to my prof asking about office hours when I realized that I could see her more quickly by visiting during open Lab time.  Then I checked and found out that one more slot had to be filled before the district would keep the Lab — and I found that tomorrow was the deadline to both add and drop without a “Withdraw” status.  This class had been in development last semester and is experimental…I’d hate to see it go down and not be tried again because it needed just one more student.  Besides, the other 19 students will also probably be really happy, too.

I’m kind of feeling a bit bad about having taken up so much of my prof’s time already — I signed up for her section, so basically I think she’ll be familiarized with my work and process.  At least now, she’ll be getting paid a bit more for helping me.

I just kind of feel like I need the additional tutelage of the Lab, especially when I keep getting more serious about this stuff.  And I’m loving having these three classes anyway — I guess you can say it gives me hope of a qualitatively better and freer/more creative life.  The structure of having to get out on Mondays will probably also really help me stay out of bed and not waste my Mondays asleep.

My prof from last semester (the Department head) still hasn’t written me back with comments on my portfolio or self-evaluation, though she’s been meaning to.  I loved her class, too — I met her back sometime around 2007 when I had her for Intro to Art History.

I talked with my current prof about the possibility of taking Special Projects with the Department head and instead of following a kind of make-your-own-curriculum path, joining in with her Beginning Drawing students and basically re-taking Beginning Drawing.  Because the Beginning class I watched in progress last semester was very different than anything I’d done, and as the class is given as a basis for Animation (same as Figure Drawing), I feel like I need to brush up on or acquire skills I haven’t been directly taught, in order to be competent.  She told me to consult with my prof from last semester, and that maybe we could work something out.  That actually sounds really good; the class was very foundational in a way that showed me how much my own Beginning Drawing class had been lacking.

I was also able to alter the schedule I’d made…I’m now at 9 units, plus 19 hours at my job.  I’ve stopped trying to figure in the complication of whether in-class lab counts as outside work…I have 8 units without the lab; that means to expect 16 hours of outside work.  On the two days I have free afternoons, I have five hours each; three with daylight, two without.  On Mondays, I will have four free hours in the morning if I don’t oversleep, and two after dark (though I did just realize I forgot to factor in lunchtime).  That makes 16.  If I need additional time for that one extra unit from the Lab, I can work on Sundays.

There’s also the possibility of working after dinner, but I probably won’t need to, especially since I have the three-hour lab on Mondays.  But then, there is also the possibility that I will really want to work after dinner.

I had been talking with one of my co-workers a week or so ago.  She was saying that she preferred full schedules.  I can see what she means.  It’s kind of interesting to keep busy all the time and only go to sleep at night.  🙂  I mean, I actually feel like I have a goal, now.  And I actually feel like I’m being serious about a career, now.  Probably the hardest part of this for me is going to be time management and motivation.  I can see it going in a direction like my martial arts training, where I really love it while I’m doing it but have an inertia against doing it.  But, you know, that’s probably really my disorder talking and not me, if it’s at all possible for my disorder to be separate from the person I am.

But yeah.  ♥  I’m feeling pretty good.

What I need to do now, really, is get a handle on this sleep-pattern thing.  I’ve got myself waking at either 7 or 8 AM most days of the week, and setting a bedtime of 10 PM.  Should I keep to that, I’ll get more than enough sleep.  The problem is getting to bed when I’m excited and happy and thoughts are swirling through my mind and I want to write and stay up longer.  But then it becomes difficult to wake, and like today I end up running out of the house without having taken one of my medications because it causes acid reflux without food, and I have no time for breakfast.

But that’s easily remedied, right?  Put a pill in your backpack, and take it at your first break.  Easy.

And I do wonder if things are getting so much easier and clearer because of that med…