I have, again, been experiencing substantial anxiety…which in this case feels like nervous energy and intense activation. This has translated to going to sleep and then waking up a few to several hours later: being awake enough to do things (mostly, digital things), then going back to sleep, and being able to rest. On Monday, I woke up around 3 AM, and stayed up until about 8 PM. That’s just…a red flag.
That early morning, I finished reading the book, Make Your Art No Matter What: Moving Beyond Creative Hurdles, by Beth Pickens (2021). Given that when I got back into it, I was less than halfway through, and I essentially read it in two sittings altogether, that would seem to be an accomplishment — but like I said earlier, it’s an accessible read.
A thorough review of the book will have to wait (for now), although I did enjoy it. There were also several times I felt myself clearly reflected in the text. I am, for example, a person whose quality of life would suffer if I did not write…which I hadn’t so much connected with an artistic temperament, until reading this book and seeing that I share that with others whom the book is aimed towards. Not working primarily with the Visual Arts, doesn’t mean that I’m not included in a “creative” category.
Learning more about what I want to do
I look at my writing production, and I see I want to write more; a lot more. The clearest indicators I have of my writing practice are my blogs…but there is the point that I do not want all of my writing to be blog posts. It’s just easier to track, here. If only it were as easy to track my writing which I intend (someday) to publish!
That’s easy, you say: just keep printouts. Right? Or a private blog with some obscure domain, and password-protected access.
I do have the materials with which to write: plenty of them. The problem comes down, at this point, to organization: where do I start? Literally, what do I write on? Do I begin with an outline, or “pants” it? (Given my past experience, I think starting with an outline will help, even if I end up changing that outline 6 or 7+ times by the time I’m done.)
I have at least two stories which I can begin working on. One of them originated in a visual context, and I’ve hoped to explore it in a visual context. I’ve actually purchased some blank A4 paper for this, which responds very (very) well to soft pencils, for roughs.
The other story’s characters have been with me since I was a young adult. I’m able to look back on that now as a maturing adult…and I think I’ve found a way to move forward with it responsibly. (In a way I couldn’t as a youth, that is.)
I’m thinking of working on the latter, first: Monday morning, I was able to write out a full page of notes on how to update it and make it personally relevant, for this point in my experience. I really didn’t expect that much to come out when I started writing — I pretty much crowded the page, and wasn’t sure whether to start another one.
Right now, I’m looking at developing the latter work as a piece of prose, as I have been trained to write Literature — and I believe I may be able to do more justice to it as Literature, than as Sequential Art.
I also look at all the things I have and want to read, and see that I want to read, a lot more. Given that I can’t do everything I want to do, maybe I want to have my life revolve around reading and writing, and keep the beadwork (and writing/publishing about Jewelry Design) as a hobby? Or develop my strength in Visual Arts, as versus beadwork?
Of course, I also need a job, in there…which is, in effect, a largely different topic. Over the course of my life, I’ve grown very much to appreciate Library services. But, even as much as I appreciate others doing the work, being a Librarian isn’t necessarily what I want to do.
I’ve been trying to talk this out with people: it is very apparent that I got into Librarianship without full knowledge of what the work entailed. I’m not certain at this point to what extent there actually is even work I want to do, in the Library field. Want to do, and am capable of doing, let’s say.
This XML class (which I’m taking in preparation to become a Metadata Librarian) is very difficult — especially for someone without Computer Programming or Database experience. My frustration with it is coloring my view. I am not a person who has much experience with struggling in academia.
However, looking back on it, everything I’ve done in Library and Information Science which verged on Computer Science, has been really hard for me (HTML/CSS, excepted; but that’s simply markup, not programming). I forget sometimes about having gotten lost in database architecture and SQL; or my horrendous experience in Fundamentals of Programming; or just wanting Intro to Computer Science, to end (which it did, after my stress and tension sent me to the ER with a back injury which made completing the course, impractical).
Particularly where I’m asked to download way too much onto the computer that I work to keep secure, I get edgy in the first place; let alone when I don’t understand what it is that I’m downloading. Or when my computer raises security warnings because the learning tool is acting like a virus.
Maybe I just have trust issues around that: or, likely, I understand (or overblow) the risk. Yes, it’s possible to back up everything on a regular basis, and I know I should be doing so as a matter of course; but I still don’t like being asked to risk my security.
So I’ve been reading, a lot.
What’s surprising me is that a lot of what I want to read (currently, at least), doesn’t overlap with what I want to write about. National social patterns have me curious about larger, global patterns; and the best way to learn about the latter (and thus have a little wider context for the former) is to seek out materials about them.
That is also, by the way, exploration of the wider world in an effort to narrow down where my interests lie; if I want to write nonfiction, or teach. It probably would also enrich my fiction writing, by showing me how people can be different.
From what I did early Monday morning, I’m pretty sure that a lot of my motivation for reading, had to do with anxiety and avoidance of my coursework. I am not sure if I’m dealing with, “burnout,” but I am really tired of this XML class. We only have three weeks to go, meaning I likely only have four more chances left to fail.
I have been working on the course — most recently, today and yesterday — because I know I have to, if I don’t want to totally fall behind and deal with the potential repercussions.
What are the worst of the potential repercussions?
- Getting an Incomplete and having this purgatory extended.
- A blow to my ego when I see the final grade.
- Risking my ability to continue to take classes at this institution (though the teaching at this institution varies in quality, and in reality, I have a cushion of good grades).
- Jeopardizing my acceptance into a future postgraduate program because of a blotch on my record; thus, endangering my future ability to teach at a four-year College or University. Right now, that’s still a viable career option with no hurdles to cross (other than financial).
That’s pretty much, it. I already have my degree, so the pressure should be off. Still, I don’t think my psyche would handle it well if I just ruined my shot at learning and getting through this, because of my emotional state (at this point: anxious and frustrated; tired, with a little anger).
Engaging or not, is my choice; and I have to deal with the consequences, either way. Aside from a potential emotional breakdown or giving in to the sudden urge to destroy my computer, there are no downsides to doing the work — or, at least, trying to.
Maybe I should frame it as trying to do the work, not as getting the work done. The latter assumes I’ll be successful, which is more pressure than I need, at this point. I seem to have the concepts, but I don’t have the vocabulary, and I don’t have the syntax. And if Metadata Librarianship is primarily this type of work, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t want to do it.
Reading seems to have been my way of calming my anxiety. Of course, I ended up buying a lot of books on my all-nighter, which is — also — significant.
Distance education is better than no education (at least, when the students actually learn — sometimes they don’t, and I know this); but it really does not compare to being taught in an actual classroom, where you can ask questions, hear others’ questions answered, and collaborate in study groups. Classes should be more than reading and doing exercises on your own (like you should understand what you’re doing, in isolation, because you read a chapter about it? Seriously, that’s no way to teach, or learn).
When I step back and look at this, I can see that I’m dealing with reading, writing, Academia, Libraries, and maybe possibly Publishing, as routes of potential employment. I might also be able to do something with my Art skills, but in reality, it has been so long since I have drawn or painted. (Beadwork is something else.)
But hey: maybe I should flex those muscles? I have the paint, I have the pencils and paper and inks, I have the brushes and pens. And I’ve been encouraged to set the Art aside as a reward for engaging with the XML class; as versus avoiding the XML work, through my art.
And yeah, I may have to turn in this last assignment messed up. Do I know what I’m doing wrong? Not really. But I tried. I engaged with something that is indisputably difficult for me. That matters…