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.

Doing In Order to Do

As usual, the daily sketch:

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I am, as a whole, happier with this figure than I was with yesterday’s.  As odd as it sounds, I think the shading/shadow under her chin and along her throat is my favorite part?  I’m just really pleased with the facial contours, even though I know they aren’t perfect.  For a quick sketch, I’m strangely content with it.

I’m struggling today with accepting that the spirit of some of my goals is, in fact, more important than the letter.  Meaning, the spirit of my 2020 goals is to lead a healthier, happier, more balanced life, right?  To enjoy things more, expand my horizons, break free of my particular, frustrating brand of inertia.  For example, I went from someone who would read sometimes dozens of books a year in their early twenties to someone who last year, read one (and only then to encourage a student who was reading the same book).

So it made sense, to me, to make “read 50 books” a bucket list goal, the unstated but implicit limitation being, obviously, that meant 50 books in a year.  A lofty goal, probably, given my recent history.  And I knew that when I chose it.  But I wanted to push myself.  I wanted a challenge.

But then I was listening to some of the back catalog of I Don’t Even Own a Television (because, as established — crushing hard on Jay), and they were discussing people who listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed, and Collision (being magnanimous) admitted that while he wouldn’t begrudge people who truly enjoyed listening to podcasts that way, it did seem to him that people who did that more wanted to be able to check “listened to podcast” off some kind of To-DO list, rather than listen to a podcast for the sheer enjoyment of it.

I will admit, I felt kind of called out.  I feel like I’m already, six days into the new year, doing that with books.  I’m eeking out the time I can to read, in between work, and house work, and parenting, and drawing, and sign language, and cooking, and working out, and writing, and… it feels like all the benefits that I’m supposed to be reaping from reading — escapism, insights, knowledge, whatever — we’re being sacrificed for the sheer attitude of Get It Done.  I’m rushing through pages and having to go back and consciously re-read it more thoughtfully, more slowly, until I’m actually paying attention and not just letting my eyes flit over the letters on the pages.  I’m turning pages for the sake of updating my page count on GoodReads, you know?  And while I do want to eek out time to read every day, and I do want to aim for at least a couple of books a month, maybe I don’t need to lean so heavily on the specific number.  Maybe it’s ok — better — if I just read.

I’m going to have to be more conscientious about what other things in my life I rush through just to say I’ve done them.  What other supposedly enjoyable activities might I be sabotaging?

I got in a 20 minute workout on the elliptical at home today while Bear did yoga on my yoga mat, and made this spicy Thai basil chicken with baby spinach and rice, which was very satisfying, and actually managed to get up to Lesson 8 of 10 in my ASL review (I’m going to go through all 10 lessons again this week before moving on).  All this on top of working all day after getting up at 4:30 am, and I am beat.  I’ll probably get in my last two ASL lessons in tonight and then read some magazine with Andy in bed.

Oh, also, my first micron pen project is complete!  I’m going to open a gallery on the blog as soon as I have a few more pieces.  This is a bit of a reworking of a watercolor I did a while back that I was wholly unhappy with.  I’m much happier with how it came out this time.

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Cultivating Creativity

Daily sketch:

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A sketch that took about 25 minutes, that could have been vastly improved by a good set of pencils, a durable eraser, and a straight-edge.  Again, the values are off, and the finger on the shutter button is seven different kinds of messed up, but that was the fourth or fifth redraw, and I had to remind myself — it doesn’t have to be perfect.  The daily sketch is not supposed to be about showcasing perfection, it’s about cultivating a habit, learning as I go, beginning to understand my relative strengths and weaknesses, and taking ownership of the things I create, however good or bad I perceive them to be.

I eeked out some free time today and read the first 108 pages of The Great Spring.  I had read a summary prior to starting the book, so I knew it wasn’t about writing, per se, but there is a fair amount in the book about mindfulness and mental presence that I feel can apply to developing a writer’s sensibility.  Also, these passages, which are about Zen meditation, but can so easily be applied to absolutely any creative endeavor:

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My husband is heading out to his weekly Game Night (different then our monthly Game Nights; different group of people, and only he attends), so I am putting Bear to bed, having dinner, and then I’m eager to continue working on some art with my microns and digging into Fansplaining, which I stumbled across looking for a good fandom podcast.  I recently listened to their episode The Shipping Answers (analyzing the results of a survey I participated in; it was how I first heard of them), and I really enjoy their overall vibe, and the episode descriptions sound intriguing; they seem to talk about a lot of fannish topics that are of interest to me.

I hope you all have a relaxing Friday night to look forward to, and a wonderful weekend.