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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011

The worst year in the history of bad years (in my life, anyway) is coming to an end this weekend. It saw the completion and publication of my first full-length novel, the hardcore dive into digital art, advancement in fractals, my first job, and tons of other things. It involved a car accident, the loss of the majority of my free time, a whole ton of really miserable moments and days, and only about 4 days total where something didn't go wrong.

All I have to say is good riddance. Bring it on, 2012. You won't be worse.

Challenge me and be worse, and I quit. I will go back in time so hard you won't even remember what you did to deserve it! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meaning

A lot of people seem to think their lives have no meaning. For me, art has always been my meaning. Music, whether I'm listening to it, playing it, writing it, or it's just a part of the background, has always been very uplifting, motivating, and inspirational. Drawing has become more prominent as of late. It's really nice making art for someone's tattoo idea or whatever and seeing them really pleased with your work. Fractals, jewelry, photography, writing...they're all really rewarding. It's great doing stuff that other people enjoy, especially when it's really fun to do in the first place.

Working 42 hours a week has really changed that. Suddenly, I'm lucky to write 20 words a day or listen to 5 songs other than the ones playing on the ride to and from work. I went out yesterday (it feels like a month ago already) to a flea market, and that was a nice change of pace. Then I worked until 1:40 AM, stayed up until 6 AM, and slept until 4. I'll be going to bed after only 5 hours of being awake just so I can be up for my early morning shifts this week.

Point is, I've hit this horrid cycle of trying and failing to sleep, being exhausted when I have to get up and go to work, then getting off and being too sore from work to get anything done. Today is my day off; that's the only reason I'm finding time for this blog post.

I have a Christmas ornament to mail out. I have a large batch of barbecue sauce to make and mail. I have a half-completed medical assistance form that needs to be finished and mailed back. I lost a tattoo commission because I was days late. It's all just very frustrating, disheartening, and generally depressing.

I'd love to just take two days off and get stuff done, but I know that, in all likelihood, I'd spend the first day just recovering from working. People just seem to get ruder and more unpleasant as Christmas grows closer. Working register at Target the past week, I've gained so much stress just from dealing with people. I'd much rather be out on the sales floor helping people find things than standing at a register bagging items and arguing that the $30 DVD someone is holding is not the $20 one that's on sale for $14. I usually give up, mostly to keep my own sanity relatively intact.

I've taken in mostly chocolate, sweets, and caffeine over the past week. I baked myself an entire cake just to have cake. It was what I did while I should have been making my second test batch of sauce. Point is, I'm sort of miserable.

I think the worst part is that I can handle this job. I'm fast, efficient, and don't call off unless I'm sick. I'm there on time and leave when they want me to leave. It's just not bad enough for me to need to quit. It's even improving my health in some ways. I'm regaining a lot of muscle that I lost from inactivity, and I'm getting used to being active again.

I'm only a seasonal hire. I have 90 days of employment, and maybe they'll decide to keep me, but I don't plan on staying. I'm just really unwilling to quit a job that I only have for 3 months. I'd rather be able to say I finished my seasonal time without issue.

The whole thing is pretty awful. I know I can do it, and that doesn't make it any better. I don't want to do it, but I want to quit even less. It's just a big pile of obligations and priorities that I don't want to deal with. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Discouragement

I have had one hell of a time starting college. When I was in 8th grade, I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere along the line while doing a career research project, I realized how tough of a career that really was. I definitely don't want to spend years searching for a publisher only to have them demand books in a very short period and for not all that much pay. Being a writer is something I want to do on my own.

My views shifted to psychology. I love learning about the human mind. It also would help with important character development in that writing thing. I dropped that idea because there was just too much medical school involved.

I'm pretty sure Latin teaching was my next goal. It lasted for a long time, though it suffered fatal blows when my high school dropped me out and it came to my attention that I would have a monstrous amount of work to do in order to catch up. That wasn't the real killing strike, though. That came when I learned that my high school had cancelled their Latin program. I have no interest in teaching in a private school.

Now, I have my sights set on a Visual Arts program. I thought I would start in the fall. I didn't. I expected to wait another year, and suddenly, just a few days ago, I realized I could get in and start in January. I called the college a few days later to schedule an appointment.

They haven't called back yet. See, the program requires some stuff I'm not sure I can get, and with the enrollment deadline only 4 days away, I need to talk to someone who can answer my questions.

The program I'm interested in requires a recommendation from an art teacher and a portfolio. I can get a portfolio together, depending on what I need for it, but I had just one art teacher in high school. I didn't finish her class because I got dropped out. I don't even remember her name.

They seem to need a recommendation in general, now, which wasn't needed last I knew. With my favorite teacher retired and unreachable, I may have to ask a teacher who doesn't really know how good I've gotten at stuff in the past few years.

It's all been really discouraging. I'm sort of facing this possibility now that after everything I've done to get here, I might have to wait until the fall just because I can't get things done in time.

On the other hand, this stuff is wonderfully exciting.

I'm already a writer. I blog, I have a book published, and I have a webzine. It's not what I was going for originally, but it's an enjoyable, rewarding experience. I didn't need college to get me here.

I still plan on studying psychology, and I've learned a lot through independent research as my writing requires.

Part of the reason I decided against a teaching career was the limitations it would place on my art. No one wants their kids around a teacher who draws naked elves in her spare time. Not that I do, but you never know, you know? 

Art is what I like doing. In its many forms, it's always what I come back to, and even if a Visual Arts degree doesn't get me a career, it will certainly help me get the skills I need to make more money doing freelance work.

Really, what I expect from college is not to gain a career so much as to gain the knowledge and experience to make a living doing whatever I want to do. That's all anyone can hope to achieve, I think. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bizarre Things Old People Think

Occasionally, I hear something that's so off-the-wall stupid, I can't wrap my head around it. Sometimes, I hear those things from multiple people. The biggest offenders, I think, are the older people I meet who often have no idea that it hasn't been the '70s in decades. You young people who give me this stuff just make me want to lock our generation up in a school for a few years to teach them how the world works.

"Picture" = "Photograph"
It doesn't. I picture is an image. They're synonymous umbrella terms for visual media. It can be a photo, a painting, something drawn in the sand, anything. I've shown people photographs and had them ask, "Is that a picture?" Well, yeah, duh it's a picture. "Is it a photograph?" is always what they're actually trying to ask.

The Internet is Tiny
My family is notorious for this one. I told my aunt at one point that I bought some stuff online. She replied, "I should do that...get stuff online, and then it comes to the house, right?" She (and the other relatives) can't grasp the concept that you don't just "shop online." You go to specific sites, look through tons of stuff or whatever, pay for shipping, and then it comes to your house. They all think of the internet as this single entity rather than this mass of sites. They always ask me things like, "Can you read about that online?" They're totally oblivious to the fact that any given movie might be referenced on thousands of sites.

Anime is Porn.
It's certainly not. My mom has this mindset, just because she sees a lot (like, 2%) of books in her one book club that are half-naked Japanese-style characters. She's good at making unreasonable generalizations, though. It's what she does.

Books Are Very Educational and Informative.
I'm not going to tell you there aren't books like that, but when I say I'm reading a book called The Time Paradox, don't immediately assume it's about quantum physics. That actually happened with my boyfriend's dad. In case you don't know, that book is actually an Artemis Fowl book, part of a series that follows a teenage criminal mastermind and his adventures with fairies. Tim's parents read about 5% fiction, 95% books about people converting to Christianity and how it saved their lives. It's like recreational reading just doesn't exist to them.

Online Stores Steal Your Money
Just because you're not physically handing someone cash to take your waffle iron home doesn't mean the thousands (if not millions) of internet stores are going to take your money and not deliver. It's usually pretty easy to tell which sites are legit and which ones look like you're buying stolen merchandise from a drug dealer.

The News Said It! It's True!
Maybe in the 80s. Nowadays, you're lucky to find an article that doesn't withhold information from you. Plenty of news out there today is based on half-truths, misinformation, poor studies, etc.

Inexpensive Stuff Saves Money
Like hell it does. The more we figure out how to save on electricity, water, etc, the more stuff we put out that's just a little more expensive. Those funky spiral light bulbs pay for themselves, considering how long they last and how little energy they use in comparison to the incandescent ones. Same with LED Christmas lights. A lot of places, like Books a Million and GameStop, have cards you can buy for $20 or $15 a year that save you money. If you shop at those places enough, they'll pay for themselves and then start saving you extra, not to mention the coupons, magazines, flyers, and other perks.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Writing Tip #11

I helped an Asian lady who barely spoke English, got hit on by an old black guy with one tooth, helped a guy look at grills for 20 minutes, half-assed an attempt to keep things organized and STILL managed to slaughter everyone else's pathetic progress, rode in a new car, and scaled a wall like a champ. All in one day. Aren't you impressed?

Tomorrow, I'll be calling the local college about starting for the spring semester! I'm excited as hell. For now, you get a writing tip that's more about general activity than writing itself.

Tip #11: Don't promote your story using horrible spelling/grammar/typing. Or write your story like that, for that matter.

I can't begin to imagine all the times I've seen things like the following examples that make me turn around and run in the opposite direction of a story. 

Example A: The Comma-tose
I'm gonna be posting my story, about this dude, it has dragons. Big dragons that are part wolf.

I see people all the time using too many commas. I also see people using too few. Often, the bad comma frequency is accompanied by run-on sentences or blatant fragments. Sorry, half of you young writers on DeviantART, but that doesn't make me want to read your story. In fact, it makes me 80% less likely to even want to associate with you on the internet. It also gives me a headache as I try to decipher what you're trying to say.

Example B: The Scripted
Bob: *scratches head* What am I doing here?
Steve: *shrugs* Probably being in a bad story, bro.

Scripts are not bad on their own, but they have their place. Scripts should by no means be your way of telling an epic story that would normally be a 250 page novel. For the love of God, stop with the scripts. If I see an excerpt of something in script form, I don't even give it the time of day. I want to read a story; not 80 pages of dialogue and vague actions.

Example C: Teh Loltypr/Chatwriter
I wrote a story!! iz so kewl. it has teh best demons evr. u should read it.

That's seriously as bad as I can consciously make that, and really, I've seen so much worse. This is really self explanatory. I'm a thousand times more likely to read your story if you tell me about it like you can type better than longcat.

Example D: The Runner
I wrote this story about this guy, and he lives in this city and goes around killing people while there are all these gangs and stuff and there's this really crazy disease that's killed off almost everyone and he's immune so he's not affected so he has to go out and kill the gangs, but then he moves to this other city and meets this girl and then he joins this gang, well it's sort of a gang, and meets this other girl and then he has friends and then this crazy stuff happens.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that probably doesn't make you want to read Among the People Lost, even though that's exactly what I just described. Whenever I encounter this, I always feel like the person is sucking in a huge breath and then trying to hastily sum up their story before running out of air. It's just one massive run-on sentence, sometimes with commas, sometimes without. It's painful. 

Example E: The Stand Still
"So what's your story about?"
"Well, I guess it's about dogs."
"Okay...what about dogs?"
"Uh...a grey dog."
"And...?"
"And his master."
"Okay...?"

The opposite of the runner, there are occasionally those people who can't even summarize their story. Trying to coax them into doing to is harder than pulling teeth. Even when you hit them in the face with a hammer, you won't get anywhere. If that's the best promotion you've got, don't think for a moment that I'm willing to watch you try to describe what happens to that dog. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello, December!

So, I'm pretty sure November was the fastest 30 days of my life. That was gone in no time! :O

I'm going to spam you with updates now because I haven't done anything but writing tips all month. Sound good? Awesome.

Projects

-The second issue of my webzine The Dragon's Claw is here.

-The Devil's Blade is on hold for a few months while I make it 20% cooler and 80% more badass.

-I'll be working on the prequel to Among the People Lost that follows Dante and Hunter.


Promotion

Since you're all likely buying gifts and spending money this time of year, I'd appreciate any business you can send my way. :)

Dragonistic
-Facebook I'll be adding Christmas items really soon! Possibly tomorrow when I'm off.
-Zazzle
-CafePress

DeviantART prints

Among the People Lost


Personal

-Work is eating all my time. I won't be around as much, and holidays are going to eat the rest of my time.

-I'm not sick or dying anymore! Maybe.

-Work is doing several things to me. First, I have no time anymore to do hobbies. Second, it's fixing some of my health issues. I'm getting stronger from lifting things, my appetite has increased to a much more healthy level, I'm able to function on less sleep without feeling nauseous, and I don't get dizzy as easily. Third, I feel my mental stability going to hell. I don't think I can handle not having any time to release tension and ease stress with crafts and art.