Re-entering Japanese language study…Writing? Libraries?

Today has been surprising in a number of ways.  I started in on work in Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al, along with the workbook:  this led into an impromptu nihongo (Japanese language) lesson with a native-Japanese-speaking family friend (listening and speaking, plus reading).  (She saw that I was working in this textbook and got excited.)

It’s kind of something to be asked to explain things in one’s own life, in a language of which you just started renewing study, and in which your last class was 15 years ago!

That…is a long time, isn’t it?

I think I remember that I gave myself the goal of becoming a fiction writer when I graduated with my BA in 2005.  But at the time I had just begun a medication which …apparently somewhat drastically, changed the way my brain worked.  Because of this, I thought that I would not be able to write (fiction) professionally.

Relative to what I had known before, I felt inhibited, but this may have been just the effect of my prefrontal cortex (Executive function) gaining more control…which would have relatively “inhibited” me.  That’s kind of what the prefrontal cortex is known for…

I came to the decision to stop fiction writing through thinking that I had been upsetting my own life (self-sabotaging) to gain experience to write about.  I also found my life surprisingly peaceful after graduation (I didn’t have a job at the time), and did not want to introduce conflict where there was none, for the sake of …what, writing a story?

At the same time, I had been having fears that I was splitting my mind apart in order to handle …in effect, acting, as up to three characters at once (I don’t think I could have handled four or more at that time).

Twelve years later, I know a lot more about myself and about how the mind works, generally, than I did, then.  I’ve also been through a lot, even if a lot of that life was acted out virtually.  I’m not sure if medication changes have helped with this, but I’m certain it didn’t hurt.

What’s happening now is that I’ve realized that perhaps I can write fiction again — if I let myself do it.  I’ve been keeping a fairly tight clamp on it, for multiple reasons (see above).  But it may — now — be possible for me to write without taking it too seriously.

And by “too seriously,” I mean, “as reality.”  I have historically had a problem separating, “fantasy,” and “reality,” to the point that I’ve wanted to invent new terms to refer to the living world and the mental world.  After all, the mental world is not “unreal” to the person experiencing it — it’s just not objectively existent (except as electrical patterns in the brain, which bothersomely enough, simulate reality).

In the extreme this ranges into hallucination, though I have a tendency to have more inhabited a space in between living in dreams (asleep) and never fully waking up (derealization), occasionally moving into what has been called “illusion” (receiving sensory input but cognizing it in a distorted manner:  like running water in the sink and hearing repeated high-pitched beeps) and hallucination (in my case, literally smelling things that weren’t there — which I’ve been told is an uncommon form).

On top of this, though, is…the sense that I’m just picking up on more of reality than most people do.  I’m relatively comfortable with this explanation, now.

These two states have coexisted ever since I was in my early teenage years; I’m currently in my mid-thirties.  I’ve just about had it with second-guessing my own intuition (which is what has been happening for about the last 20 years) because it doesn’t fit someone else’s abstract (and narrow) model of “reality.”

What I’ve learned is that what happens in one’s private mind is real enough, although I also think we have more control over this — and more power as to what happens in our own minds — than we think we do.

It’s also very easy for my brain to freak itself out while trying to explain things it cannot, and coming up with the single most dramatic explanation it can think of, while disregarding the equal validity of multiple scenarios, and also the fact that none of them are proven.

In any case, I began this post wondering if I should — seriously — decide to dip a toe back into fiction writing.  Every writing class that I’ve been in has mentioned…bad first drafts (though they universally used a more colorful adjective for “bad” which I’m not sure I’m allowed to say on WordPress!).  They don’t have to be novels — short stories or flash fiction might be more graspable at this point — and maybe I might begin them here and then edit them for a time before posting them up.  (I do have enough conflict and experience in my life, now, to have a working base:  which was not as apparent to me when I was in my 20’s.)

Something about getting back into learning Japanese language has sparked this.  I’ve wanted to be able to read Japanese for a very long time, and it’s somewhat…gratifying that I still recognize most kana, even if I don’t remember the stroke order for all of them.

What I most want to do which is within my grasp, is learn to read Japanese.  However, I have heard mention of the idea of attending Japanese classes with family…which would give me at least one convenient practice partner, where it comes to speaking and listening.

I’m gaining strength in this from realizing that many creative people have interests that span different media; so there is, in effect, no reason why I can’t be into drawing and painting and writing.  (Or drawing, painting, writing, and music!…though I’m much more of a consumer of music than a musician, myself [I play a little guitar, but not consistently enough to sustain the toughness of my fret hand].)

And there is no reason why being a Librarian would negate any of this.  It may, actually, help; at least, so long as it doesn’t take up all of my time.  In the field, I may be grappling with these cultural transmissions more than doing the abstract work of learning organizational systems…

I do wonder, though, if getting back into reading and writing (fiction and nonfiction) is something that will help propel me forward in a career in Libraries; as versus doing Art.  The family friend I was speaking with, tonight…was encouraging me not to let go of my dreams (one of which was learning nihongo; I’ve wanted to do so ever since I was in Middle School).  This, in turn, and in combination with the degree I’m seeking (MLIS), would prepare me somewhat to work in Hawaii as a Librarian.  From there, it’s just a relatively short jump to get to Japan…(and it’s kind of shocking, the number of Japanese in Hawaii!)

…but is my dream to be a great novelist, or to change the world in the way I can, or to make art?

…it would be nice to be a writer.  And to do the Art for myself and to keep myself engaged and healthy.

I think so, yeah.  The Art is for me — to sustain me.  The Writing is the reason I’m alive.  The Librarianship is to serve a social good while earning a living.  And the nihongo is one step toward broadening my world.

That sounds really, really, good.  🙂


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…