Return to Writing

I’m on vacation for literally one day (or not even, since I’d be off for the weekend anyway) and I am already frantically trying to figure out what I want to do.  (Psst: the answer is “everything”).

Lately, I can’t say I’m “inspired,” but I sort of feel drawn to the idea of trying to write again; writing was my main creative outlet for the majority of my life, and was something I sort of defined myself by for the better part of my young adulthood.  I put writing aside last year in favor of experimenting with and teaching myself some visual art techniques, but I also miss playing around with words, and I’ve spent a significant amount of time this past week curating a Pinterest board of various artistic challenges, not limited to — but certainly including — writing.

I’m thinking I might start one this week.  Anyone interested in joining me?  I’m thinking of using this one from Nerd Knows Life:

Poetry-Challenge

Nerd Knows Life has a few good writing challenges via the link above (the flash fiction challenge is also one I have Pinned with the hopes of completing it at some point), but since poetry is really my bag (being my first literary love and all) that I thought I’d start with this one.

Has anyone else defined themselves as a particular “kind” of artist only to suddenly abandon it (intentionally or not) for something completely unrelated?  Did you ever whole-heartedly return to that first love, or did you strike a balance between the old and new?  Or did you simply leave it behind and never look back?

It’s Saturday night!  Vacation or not, take some time out for yourself.  Have a drink, message a friend, watch something fun on Netflix.  Relax and recharge.  You deserve it.

Vacation

Tomorrow is Friday!  And Valentine’s Day to boot!  Andy and I actually make fair effort to prioritize couple time (a privilege, I recognize; we are incredibly lucky to have my retired mother live so close by and  be perpetually willing to babysit), but it’s still nice to have an “excuse” to go out and be self-indulgent.

Bear is staying at my parents’ house tomorrow night, so Andy and I have the evening and the earliest part of Saturday to ourselves.  Honestly, having the morning to ourselves feels like so much more of a treat — not being awoken to the sound of a five-year-old trying to teach himself how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the recorder is a luxury you don’t recognize until you start being roused every morning at five a.m. by a one-man woodwind concerto.

Tomorrow is also, notably, the last day before mid-winter break, and I am so excited to have a week to pursue personal projects; I haven’t had a break that was filled with familial or domestic obligations since August, and I’m incredibly excited to get time to work on some creative endeavors (and a little bit of self-care, as well).

Today I did quite a bit of reading, and am 3/4 of the way through The Sun is Also a Star (I’ve got a soft spot for YA fiction, but haven’t been reading much of it in the last few years), and about 1/5 of the way through The Fifth Season.  I also did a little bit of art and wrapped up not one, but two drawings:

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Tomorrow is Friday!  Sing a little song, do a little dance.  You have arrived.

Settling in with Exhaustion

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I don’t talk about my work online, because I work at a public high school and even barring the very real rules and regulations we have regarding information we can divulge, I also simply don’t like discussing work publicly.  Suffice it to say, I honestly and unabashedly love my job, and my students, and my coworkers, and know how unbelievably privileged I am in that regard, but today was hell for reasons completely removed from my students or fellow staff.

I was literally reduced to a shaking, sweating, heart-pounding wreck by a series of increasingly uncooperative copy machines.  Oh my God, it was the most frustrating thing I’ve experienced in a long time.  I have very little patience for technology; its sole purpose is supposed to be in service of making our jobs easier, and when it massively fails in what is literally its only purpose — and not only fails, but actually accomplishes the exact opposite and infinitely complicates and hinders my ability to do my job — I get pissed.

I’m generally a fairly laid-back person at work; I mean, I have anxiety, but that’s an internal issue, and is not affected by nor does it majorly affect how I interact with students.  Sometimes students frustrate me, sure, but generally, 1. I can reason with them and usually come to some sort of understanding; 2. I remember what it was like being a teenager, and know not to take any of their obstinance or attitude personally; 3. I understand that they have an internal life that I am not privy to, and generally accept that any behaviors they exhibit are a result of them sorting through and processing their thoughts and emotions (in other words, I get that they are probably Going Through Some Shit, and I have empathy).

The copiers get none of that leeway.  Just print my documents, for Christ’s sake.  It is literally your sole purpose.  Geez.

But no.  Today they jammed on literally. every. document. Every. single. sheet.

For almost an hour.  Guys, I was livid.

But it’s over.  Ugh.  My assignment for tomorrow keeps me far, far from any of the tech that was the bane of my existence today, and by the end of tomorrow, I will have basically crested the highest hill on the road to Mid-Winter Break.  I think I’ll make it.

Tonight I’ve gathered my microns and am going to start inking and continue sketching the micron piece I’ve been holding out on, and probably begin the sketch for a subsequent one.  I’m really interested lately in drawing really mundane scenes, as I’m sure a few of you may have noticed — someone listening to music, someone reading a book (this one is someone sewing; the next is someone brushing their teeth).  I don’t know why, but it feels very satisfying to populate their environments with trinkets and tchotchkes, bits and baubles.  It gives me the same little voyeuristic thrill I used to get reading people’s personal LiveJournals, or driving by a house at night where the shades were drawn open, catching the blades of the ceiling fan casting shadows across the room in the blue light of a TV set to a channel I didn’t recognize, or catching the retreating silhouette of someone carrying trays of food into the kitchen.  I’m sure I will tire of it soon, and in the greater scheme of things, I mean, does it carry any artistic merit?

Who knows.  But it’s fun.  And sometimes I’m allowed to make art that’s just for me.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.  Keep on keeping on.

Recovering

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I’ve not been keeping up with my creative endeavors, but I’ve not been entirely slacking, either — I’ve got one more day, officially, with this challenge before I move on to lips, though at some point I think I’ll need to revisit noses (I hate them.  I hate them, I hate them, I hate them). Lately I’ve just been trying to recover from being sick — because inevitably, when I take a sick day for any reason than actually being basically bedridden (as I did this past Monday), it is all but guaranteed that I will get terribly sick in subsequent days.  So, getting sick wasn’t exactly a surprise so much as it was confirmation of the curse that’s followed me for well over a decade at this point.

I was determined not to take an additional sick day as a point of misplaced pride, so I carried cough drops, kept my hands clean, and went through a lot of Kleenex and hand sanitizer.  This is our last week before mid-winter break, a beautiful nine days off with no obligations, before the long haul of March (the month of No Days Off and MCAS testing) hits us full force.

Being sick knocked me on my ass, though.  I’ve not gotten any sign work done, and even reading has kind of been a slog, since my head has been full of cotton and I’ve been distracted by how badly my throat hurts (ugh, it had been a while since I had a full-on sore throat, and it is such a miserable experience).  All of that has more or less subsided (throat is still tender when I yawn, but swallowing is okay now).  I’m starting to look forward to getting back on track with my art, now that my head can actually hold onto thoughts beyond “So tired, need sleep.”

Today Bear and I sat down and did Valentine’s for his class.  Oh man, let me tell you — what a wave of nostalgia when he brought home The List of Classmates.  I remember sitting down every year and spreading things out in front of my like I was some master craftsman — colored pens or pencils, tape (if I was sending a goodie along with the Valentine), stickers, envelopes — and crossing names off with this, like, refined precision.  It was honestly probably the most organized and on top of things I had ever been (or like, would ever be) in my life.

Bear and I picked out Toy Story valentines, but he wanted to do something a little Extra.  There were some Valentine’s packs that had little treats, but most were candy (and the school has a no food treats rule, because of food allergies), and the ones that weren’t were stickers for properties that we’d never heard of.  So, Bear and I spent the afternoon making bracelets for his classmates.20200209_141155
I’d had the elastic laying around from a mail trade with an online friend about five years ago, and the plastic beads let over from making pride charms seven or eight years ago.  The letter blocks were an impulse buy from Dollar Tree within the last two years, and I was thrilled to finally get to use them for something.  The whole ordeal — letting Bear address and sign all the cards, making the bracelets, sealing them — took about two hours.  He had a great time, and it was nice both spending time with him, feeling like a Pinterest Mom for once in my goddamn life, and getting to do something moderately creative after nearly a week of stagnation.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Starting is the hardest part, but chill out, charge up, and start strong.  You can totally do this.

Questions

I’ve not yet done any of my creative exercises for the day.  Instead, I took a mental health day¹ and have spent the day sorting through those things around the house that have been most negatively contributing to my mental load and upping my anxiety, i.e., my filthy sheets, the backlog of laundry, the mess in the kitchen, etc.  In between, I have been making it a point to do some more recreational self-care, and have been comfort listening to my favorite podcasts (particularly a previously named one which I will not name again because I found out the host I have a massive crush on has a Google Alert set up of the name of said podcast, and I am fucking mortified), watching some YouTube videos, and contemplating the future of (my personal) social media.

I have gone through so many iterations of this blog.  Just, so many.  I started out as a creative writing blog where not a lot of creative writing happened (save during challenge months, like NaPoWriMo, OctoPoWriMo, or the April A-to-Z Challenge), and quickly grew disinterested because I couldn’t sustain enough focus to regularly write (or even write about writing).  Then I shifted gears to being an ADHD blog, which, while it felt good to have a place to unload about the struggle of trying to get a diagnosis as a nominally functional adult, and how it affects my creativity and self-image, it felt like I was essentializing something that I really only saw as an increasingly small part of who I was, especially as I began to make (small, but important) strides in overcoming it in my creative life.

I feel like I’m finally starting to come into my own, now that I’ve abandoned the idea of having a branded blog; I feel like returning to a more personal, “best of late-90s LiveJournal” sort of blogging — where I can share my creative work, but also post about anything that happens to be on my mind while connecting with like-minded individuals — is the best thing that’s happened to my blogging since I returned to the medium.  The fact that I’ve posted more since December 24th than I had in the previous two years on this platform combined is a testament to that.

That being said, I’ve started to think about my other social media networks, and becoming more active on them.

I deleted my Twitter — which had 930 followers — in November, when I realized I had no connections with anyone I was following, or anyone following me.  Most of the blogs I was following were branded accounts doing primarily self-promotion  (which, for what it’s worth, I am in no way trying to shame.  It’s just not the purpose for which I personally use Twitter, and I don’t think I was the “right” audience for those accounts, either).  I want to follow people who use Twitter more for personal purposes — the quick thoughts and updates not quite worthy of a full blog entry.  Overheard quotes and non-sequiturs.  Social commentary (original or reblogged).  Jokes.  The best of Comedy Twitter™.  Just, a more personal experience, not a “brand” one.  If this sounds like your Twitter, please let me know.  I follow from @rarelytidymind.

YouTube feels much the same; I used to sporadically do vlogs for “events,” like NaNowWriMo (I even participated in more than one group vlog channel during various Novembers) and I am obsessed with personal vlog channels.  I don’t think I could ever tie myself down to one and only one vlog topic, but I’m especially interested in starting a vlog for kid’s books with my son, and I would love to see other people’s YouTube channels where they do more personal-style vlogs.  Again, if you use YouTube as a platform to share… whatever, please let me know.  You might recognize the idea of starting an active vlog channel as one of my bucket list goals.  Well, now feels like as good of a time as any.

Back to chores. I hope to be back with my Daily Nose (man, that sounds weird) and maybe some progress on my latest micron drawing (which has stalled out at a very early stage).

Mondays, am I right?  Getting going is always hard.  It’s all easier from here on out.


¹ Which I feel guilty and anxious about, which sort of obliquely helps to solidify my reasoning for needing a mental health day in the first place (like, the days are mine, I shouldn’t feel bad for needing to take one?)  Also, sort of related, but I’ve been spending a ton of time on my feet at work lately, and my hips have not stopped hurting for the last two weeks, and shit, I think I’m getting old.

Endings

This is the last of the Week of Eyes sketches, and the first several sketches in my series of noses.  I’m not displeased with how they are going, and I’m certain then will look better in anatomical context, but man — I still hate drawing noses.

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I have spent the last several day consumed by the fannish aftermath of The Good Place finale.  There’s a popular meme format around Tumblr called “________________ Spoilers Without Context,” which usually uses images unrelated to the given media that will obliquely harken back to a moment in the show/episode, but only if the reader has seen said media.  I can’t find one for the finale yet or I would have linked it.  Suffice it to say, approach this one armed with plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated.  If you’ve any thoughts on said finale, I’d love to hear them.

It hurts letting this show go, far more than I anticipated it would three years ago when I started watching.  I initially started watching because my husband had been intrigued by the premise, and we caught up with it via Netflix — the first season was a whirlwind that was hard to walk away from — we marathoned the entire thing in maybe a week, and that took an incredible amount of restraint on our part.  Since then, watching week by week, it became one of my absolute favorite pieces of media of all time, with some of my favorite characters, and one of my favorite ensemble casts ever.

I am not someone who knows how to like things casually.  I don’t “sort of” get into a lot of things.  More often than not, I am either entirely disinterested, or I am in, with every fiber of my being.  This was a show that captured my whole heart, and I will miss it with my whole heart as well.

There is a passage in a book by Banana Yoshimoto that I often point people too when they try to talk about that feeling of a favorite piece of media — be it a book series or movie franchise or show — ending, because it captures the feeling (for everyone, but especially for those of us with various media as our Special Interests) so well:

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From Goodbye Tsugumi, by Banana Yoshimoto

I’ve been going back and reading some of my favorite fanfic in the aftermath of the finale.  I try to keep this blog relatively tame, so I sadly can’t link a lot of the fic I read, ahem (though, as deeply and utterly as I am in love with Chidi/Eleanor, I can enthusiastically recommend most fics tagged Hellstrop (or Eleanor/Michael)).

However, there was one fic I sought out today that I read when it was still new.  It remains very underrated, and it deserves so much more love than it’s gotten.

somewhere else, by zedpmTahani, Chidi, and Jason reckon with being alive.  Written prior to the premiere of Season Three, it would now be considered AU, but it is beautifully written and satisfying, with so many moments that ached, much in the same way the finale did.

It’s Saturday night, guys.  Go do something good.

 

Bookish

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Surprise!  I feel that this sketch is definitely evocative of surprise, so that’s a win.  I’ve got one more day of eyes (I think I’ll post the full sheet of eyes at that point), and then it’s on to noses.  In the meanwhile, I’ve had about four false starts on another micron piece that I hope to begin in earnest tonight, even if it’s just the roughest blocking out of shapes, and then on Friday night/Saturday, I hope to break out my new acrylics and my new brushes for the first time.

I finished White Fragility today, eleven hours before my digital loan expired (down to the wire!), making that Book Number Three for 2020 thus far, which is, hmm, three times as many as I read all last year.  Yes, shamefully, I only read one book in all of 2019, and even that was only to encourage a student who had been assigned to read that book for class.  It wasn’t for lack of interest, I just couldn’t seem to allocate time for reading in my schedule.  I’ve resolved to make it more of a priority in 2020.

My husband, himself a voracious reader, issued himself a challenge last year.  As someone who reads primarily speculative fiction, he resolved to not read any books written by cishet white men in 2019 (with the exception of new books released in series he was already currently reading).  As a result, he’s acquired a fair collection of speculative fiction by people of color, women, and queer/trans authors, and upon his urging (and that of several other friends), I’ll be starting in on N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy.  I actually attended a few panels with Jemisin when she was a Guest of Honor at Arisia several years ago, and although I haven’t read any of her work yet, I remember enjoying a lot of what she had to say about the process and craft of writing, so I look forward to starting the books.

Side thought:  Sometimes I get a terrible case of choice paralysis when it comes to books.  I feel like, part of me wants to be at the literary zeitgeist, reading all the most current, critically acclaimed novels (either literary award winners or popular, NYT-bestsellers, take your pick at any given moment); sometimes I want to read all the books deemed “classics” in their respective genres; sometimes I want to latch onto one author and read them extensively.  I just feel overwhelmed.  I want to read things that are relevant (i.e., current or popular), but I know a book doesn’t lose it’s merit simply by being older; I want to read the classics, but I’m never sure where to start (or whose definition to take into consideration regarding what makes a classic); when I find an author whose voice I love, I want to explore them deeply, but I do tend to fall into repetitive ruts, and I’m always wanting to expand my repertoire.  You’d think the vastness of the book choices available to me would be exciting — and I mean, it is — but I also feel like I’m drowning in options.  And realistically,no matter how I chose to proceed, I’ll never be able to read all the books that I want.  That’s it’s own kind of tragedy, right there.

Anyway.  All this to say, I’m reading again.  And I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I hope to discover some wonderful books and authors in 2020.  And feel free to leave me book recs whenever!  I’m trying to remain open to literally anything, so go bonkers.

Work has been draining as all get out, and it’s only Tuesday.  I am incredibly lucky to have and wonderful support system of coworkers I genuinely like and appreciate, but I will still be happy to put this one behind me when the weekend gets here.

Tomorrow is Wednesday!  Up and over the hump.  I got you.