Since the eighth of this month, I’ve been reconsidering the potential move to Hawai’i. A lot has gone into this…but I think the last remaining “straw” has been the need to change my counselor in order to have a chance at making decent progress where it comes to my mental health. I now have hardly anything that is tying me to this area.

I’ve also been able to get into an online class which could help me with my emotional and cognitive struggles where it comes to Creative Writing in English: this was a serious boost. If I can get past the barriers I’ve been putting up in front of myself (negative self-talk, e.g., “there’s no money in writing,” “I don’t know how to do Technical Writing,” “do I want to put income before art or honesty,” “oh god, gig economy“), there should be no reason I can’t become a professional writer. There’s also no reason I can’t work in Commercial Writing as a vocation and Literary Arts as a side job — or, the other way around, if finances would allow.

I’ve also realized that I can work in Graphic Arts — I have the skill, but need further experience. The major question remains, what to aim for, first: but I believe I know where my strength and comfort lies.

Writing does seem and feel, “drier,” but it is something I can easily do all day, every day. This is despite the fact that I have read absolutely no articles or books on craft that state that just writing all day every day, would be ideal. Right now I’m just trying to get back into the habit of free-writing at least 15 minutes a day; which has become much easier, now that I’m back to reading fiction. I actually wrote a friggin’ poem for the first time in years, last night.

I am, by the way, hoping to get more computer work done in the early morning hours, as I find I do much better when limiting my screen time at night. After nightfall, I need to be doing things that do not involve computers; the morning is a different issue. Today I woke before 6:00 AM; with the quiet, this is a great time to work on the computer.

The largest barrier to my writing, besides the obvious trauma issues I’ve brought up before (which I hope to address in the near future), has been a lack of reading fiction; which — I have heard from all sides, implicitly if not explicitly — is foundational if one wants to become a fiction author.

It seems like it should be obvious: to see what is possible in the field, it is worth it to see what other people have done, and how they have handled specific problems with plot, narrative, organization, avoiding the passive voice, etc.

The lack of reading fiction largely stems from an overreach of my critical thinking function, which causes me to question why an author writes what they do, and how the universe of the story is synthesized to elucidate whatever points the author may (or may not) intend.

This, in turn, is likely descended from having to deal with an English Department which seemed like it wanted religious converts, though at present only two classes stand out in my memory as glaringly ignorant of the multicultural nature of the University and the city it was situated within — the latter two points of which, were major reasons for my attendance there. (The Creative Writing department was great; the English department, not so much. I had to deal with both, in my program.)

Anyhow. Suspicions notwithstanding, as of the day before yesterday, I’ve restarted reading fiction. Particularly, I got through 82 pages of The Left Hand of Darkness on the 10th, starting just before the point at which I left off. On the 11th, I progressed 17 more pages — as I had been reading it before bed, and ran out of time before I could go any further. (Paper books don’t disrupt your sleep when you read them at night.)

The reason I stopped LHoD in the middle was the Anthropological perspective, which I now see as possibly fundamental to the Hainish Cycle (if not to Le Guin’s curiosity writ large); but if you go into it knowing that that’s what the story is about, it’s a non-issue. It wasn’t intended to be a vehicle for gender liberation, that is; and if it were, I might have just as many problems with it.

In other words, my intense criticality and inclination towards judgment, has prevented me from reading. I do not consider myself a judgmental person, but I’ve also encountered this within my analysis of my own work. Which, obviously, stops me from working. Being overly judgmental is not worth the cost, here.

There’s also the fact that there’s a hormonal treatment for menopausal women which is one letter off of part of a main character’s title (“Estroven” vs. “Estraven”). That…was shocking — and somewhat entertaining — when I saw it for the first time. (I believe I almost took a photo. Almost.) But the book was published in 1969, so there have been 53 years for someone to make a reference.

In reality, there are only two things tying my family to this area, now: 1) extended family, and 2) health care — though both of those benefits are growing weak. I might actually add the third benefit of safe fresh produce, but with climate change working the way it is, this place may be a desert (and/or razed, and/or partially submerged) in the relatively near future. I’ve realized, that is, that the Bay Area I’ve grown up within is not necessarily the same thing as the Bay Area of the present or future.

California has been in a “drought” for nearly as long as I’ve been alive (the exceptions being the notable two winters of seasonal flooding in the late 1990’s). There are extreme concerns about the inflation of housing prices and cost of living — which, in turn, makes moving elsewhere seem like less of a blow.

The biggest reason for myself not to move to Hawai’i, at this point, is economic: it costs nearly as much to live there, as it does to live here. On top of that, pay is lower because the islands’ economies are based on tourism, and not designed to be self-sustaining. Historically speaking…a lot of the islands’ diversity has to do with the importation of labor from overseas. So far as I know (and I am not sure — M researches this, not me), this is likely how one side of my family got here.

Moving on from that, while diversity in the islands has become a major drawing point, there is the fact that the public school system is not great, and the choices of employment available, are not great. This isn’t a deterrent for people who do not have to work; it can be for people who will have to work.

On top of this — in my case — so many jobs in Libraries are related to Public Service, it’s not even funny. The problem that I have with working in a Public Service setting in a Library is not what my schooling prepared me to do: it’s what it didn’t prepare me to do. Stuff like having to watch out and respond to adults stalking children, and having to tell people they can’t eat in the space, or dealing with those who are in the space for no other reason than to disrupt it.

Yes, I have heard worse horror stories. I’m not repeating them, here.

I didn’t get into the field to be a Security Guard or a Social Services provider or Janitor. For various reasons, largely hinging on the fact that I’m high-strung normally, I should not be any of the above, but skills of all the above have been (at least potentially) called into play. And it doesn’t help when certain people come into the space, thinking by default that any female who would work in a Library setting is secretly hiding a “sexy Librarian” stereotype who would be available to them, given enough wheedling.

Seriously: where does that even come from?

Though I have noticed a tendency in my history to avoid asserting myself — particularly when I disagree with a person I view as unsafe — which makes it easier for other people to imagine me as they wish me to be, not as who I am. From there, the pattern is established, and the fantasy just gets worse, the longer it runs unaddressed.

I believe that I learned I had to be silent to be accepted, somewhere along the line, likely in early childhood: but what it has evolved into is having very few friends — and being unemployed. Writing is my main way out of silence; which could also be the major reason why I write much better than I speak, to this day.

In any case, I’ve been thinking of preparing for a job I may want (i.e. away from the public), while not limiting myself to a career path in Librarianship. I should be able to leverage my skills both in Writing and in Art, while having the background to be able to research my articles thoroughly (given the right resources).

At the bare minimum, I have enough experience with online learning to be able to take classes remotely — and I can do both Writing, and Illustration, remotely. As long as I have an Internet connection, I wouldn’t be as isolated as it would seem.

In addition, Hawai’i has something that is harder to come by here, and that is support where it comes to learning Japanese language (日本語). This is something that I’ve wanted to learn at least since Middle School, when I did not get the option to have Japanese as my principal second language. If I’m in Hawai’i, I should be able to learn Japanese much more easily than I can, here.

If I want to work in Writing or in Art, experience living in Hawai’i should provide fodder for both. Learning Japanese language well enough to read, would feed both my fiction writing and any potential comics I make. If I’m going to do Illustration on the side, this is a much less-toxic route than painting (which I had been concerned about: I don’t want to go to Hawai’i and then end up flushing a bunch of toxins out into the ocean that people eat out of). If I’m going to do something like use markers, marker paper and the computer for my work, I really don’t have much to worry about.

Moving to Hawai’i is also a step further into the Pacific, which could be the start of my engagement with, and the start of moving out into, other parts of the Pacific Rim (likely starting with visiting Japan). If I know Japanese language as well as English, that’s a good beginning.

If I want to do Writing seriously, it would really, really help to take my craft seriously. I’ve just gotten back into the habit of free-writing 15 minutes per day; hopefully, I can be more consistent about it. I have re-started reading fiction, and not just for fun, but for pointers. I’ve signed up for a class on writing through emotional difficulties. I’ve signed up for mental health assistance, which should be effective at the same time. I have been writing to this blog somewhat regularly, which at least has given me practice — and taught me that quality writing needs work and revision over the course of days or longer (not one sitting over two or three hours). I also need to be writing longhand.

I say the last, because I’m finding a lot of points of potential divergence when writing posts for this blog, which have to be edited out before posting. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with them; they just aren’t in the right space. Some of them are seeds and could start off articles, themselves; but I lose my notation of them, in revision. (I’d like to keep a record of them.)

I also have a lot of sketches which record particular moments (often particular moments of conflict or atmosphere), but which are unfinished and not ready for publication, due to a lack of balance. (That is, viewed as pieces within themselves but without knowledge of their context in my mind and life, they may unintentionally say something that is not my intent, because they are incomplete, and missing pieces may be supplied by the reader [which may be the wrong pieces].)

In any case, if I want to be a writer full-time, I can start now. That’s one of the beauties of writing: it doesn’t require much to get started, and I don’t have to get anyone’s permission or approval, to be able to do it.

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