I have a job interview coming up…in a field unrelated to Writing or Art. Or, should I say, marginally related? In reality…Information provision; being a guide through the masses of communication-related artifacts available, is not really linked to Writing or Art, except that in practicality, a large portion of what we are being asked to do, requires being a consumer of Writing and Art.
It doesn’t require, making it.
Looking back on reading (and writing)
I believe the reader could understand why I would be hesitant around the prospect of becoming a Public Services Librarian…at least, if one looks at my back-files. I have hoped since high school to become an author, though to be honest, a lot of that relates to my own hubris: “I can do better than that!” in response to reading popular fiction. (I particularly remember The Vampire Chronicles…and wondering why no one investigated the constant disappearances.) Part of the reason to take a Library job in the first place was to enable my reading habits, in order to boost my writing habits.
The case after Undergrad, I’m certain, reflected a much larger issue in my life: outside of assigned reading for classes, even though I did spend a lot (a lot) of time in my school and University libraries, I tended to read for information rather than for Craft, or (to my awareness) for connection. Little did I know that a great deal of what I read, particularly where it came to Eastern Philosophy and the Western Occult Tradition, had to do with the smooshiness and variability of culture, not any hard, scientifically-investigated-and-supported reality. But I suppose that’s the wisdom one gets, 15 or so years down the line.
Since that time, I’ve particularly gained a sense of why Literary Arts exist: it isn’t just to make reading more palatable, so that anyone reads, at all. It gives people — quite especially in my case, people who have difficulty dealing socially with other people — contact with the minds, and thoughts, of others. If it weren’t for written language, my isolation and insulation from these would likely be much more extreme, and it would be to my detriment.
Of course, there is the…dare I say it, shock, of going into a Creative Writing program and realizing something of the depth and scope of the power an author has, when originating any story that they tell. This can inherently make them unreliable…and that can go sour very quickly when, for example, the writing is meant to persuade. Especially so, when the writing is meant to persuade another of the rightness of the author’s political or religious views, based on the fantastical situations they’ve drummed up.
I would think that most readers would go into an author’s world (I intend to focus specifically on Creative Writing, here), not assuming that the author is intentionally attempting to manipulate them. A problem exists, as well, when the latter occurs, and the reader just happens to already agree with the opinions the author proposes, and thus doesn’t see the manipulation. That, however, gets into an entirely different topic — one in which Patricia Roberts-Miller, author of Demagoguery and Democracy, seems to specialize, if I’m recalling the source, correctly.
Of course, there are a lot of genres of written communication which do expressly have to do with persuasion — I think I’ve read it referred to as rhetoric, in some of the works I’ve been dealing with out of the Autism community. There would seem to be a large difference, however, between recreational reading and political reading. Where the two overlap, things can become very sticky, very fast: because fiction is not reality. Fiction is an artificial fantastical construction. Politics — ideally, should deal with reality, from a framework based in verifiable reality, not fantasy.
Nevertheless, fiction does have the ability to change minds. Whether this is a good thing or not…I’m not sure if I can judge, as its effects can be for good or ill — and my perception of “good” or “ill” is subjective. It is a thing, however. The situation with gay rights in the US improved markedly after the television show, Glee, aired, which — among other things — humanized LGBTQ youth. I don’t think that was a coincidence.
I read somewhere a quote to the extent that if the author does their job well, the reader loses awareness of the author’s existence. Unfortunately, I’ve been into so many books on writing over the last several months, that I’ve lost track of exactly what I read, where. I should probably be taking notes (or at least, highlighting — which I haven’t been, because marking a book drastically drops its resale value).
While it could be said thus that I’ve read a lot of bad authors (particularly the ones I was forced to read in University), I believe the quote meant to refer back specifically to Creative Writing…where basically the entire world of the story, as well as the actors and relationships in it, not to mention elements like theme and symbolism and plot, can be the fabrication of one mind. That’s not to say at all, that works written-by-committee are any better. That’s to say that all humans are flawed, and putting one’s thoughts in writing is one of those things that can clearly evidence and record those flaws.
And that is one of the reasons why Writing takes courage. A willingness to listen and learn from one’s mistakes, doesn’t hurt, either. Of course, though; prior to that, one has to admit that they can make mistakes and, like the rest of the population, are not necessarily perfect. At a certain point, one also has to become okay with that.
In any case, I began this post writing about the interview I’ll have to go to, coming up. I can’t say I’m looking forward to any positive outcomes from it, other than getting exercise at being interviewed. If I’m offered a job…well, I’ll wait for that to happen, before I go into crisis mode.
With so many things happening right now, my Writing practice has been more disrupted than usual…maybe. (Maybe not, from looking at my records.) For the past couple of days, I haven’t been working on my free-writing, though in the scheme of things, that’s not a big deal (especially since I worked on this post both yesterday, and today). What I need to do is start working on one or more stories, instead of just honing and retaining my skills by blogging.
In practicality: the dual drives towards Art and Writing are in effect competing with one another for my time and attention. Then there is self-care and reading to attend to. Granted, I have been taking care of my food better over the past several days than I have at nearly any time prior.
I did get good news, though: I am not on my way to prediabetes, as I feared. The next thing to do is to increase my exercise as well as paying attention to what I eat; and actually taking the time to set a menu, go food shopping, and cook. Then I can see if there are any hormonal effects that attend weight loss — or, difficulties in losing weight. If there are, then I know I may be dealing with insulin resistance. If there are not, I’ll just weigh less, I suppose?
Ah, and: the thing about Visual Art. I know I’m out of practice, and that if I did set up a practice, that would make it easier to keep going. Work builds on itself, that is. I have missed the intellectual stimulation of reading, while I have been focused on the Art.
I’m fairly certain at this point that I probably want to keep the art-making, personal. Maybe I can use it to develop story ideas (it’s not a bad thought) — and I know I can use my own illustrations to enrich online affairs like this blog (I’ve thought of making my own custom “Separator Bars” which would basically just be transparent .PNGs which span the text) — but I don’t think I’m comfortable enough with it, to become an Illustrator. At least, that’s what I’m feeling, at the moment.
I can also use Art to break myself out of patterns of overthinking and rumination, but using Art as a meditative device is much different than planning on making a career of it.
What I just described relates Art as a potential form of self-care, which I didn’t understand, before.
I think that right now I’m going to pick up and help work on dinner; it’s just odd, at this point, to sit back and let everyone else do the work. And I still have time.
2 responses to “Torn”
Just thought I’d drop by and wish you all the best for your interview! Do keep us updated, yeah? And yes, when in doubt, falling back to art always does help with the soul. In my basic fashion, I find that doodling and free-writing does help centre me somewhat.
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Hi Stuart! Thanks for the good vibes! If anything comes of it, I’m pretty sure it will come out on the blog, don’t worry! 🙂