Reflections, Revelations and The Future

Knowing and feeling are two different things. I think I’ve said that before but it bears repeating. In this post I’m going to talk about some realisations I’ve had but that doesn’t mean I won’t backslide. Sometimes lessons have to be learned more than once before they stick. I might ‘know‘ some things now but whether I have truly accepted them is still something of a question mark.

I’ve spoken before about “blogging resolutions”, and how I wanted to blog at least once a week, and feeling bad about it when I failed those resolutions. There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t stick to blogging more but the one I want to talk about today is that I simply didn’t care enough. My head had made it a priority as “something I was going to do” but deep down I just didn’t view it as important.

Something I’ve sort of known for a while, but never really consciously thought about, is that there is more than one facet to motivation. I can really want to do something – which sounds like motivation right? – but I still won’t do it as while the drive is there another part of motivation is missing.

I’m not meaning to get personal, or dive into psychological talk, I’m just trying to explain the background to what I’m thinking. I’m going to be starting a new university course in two weeks. My life is going to change dramatically. I suppose at times of great upheaval a time of reflection is almost inevitable.

What is truly important to me?
What are my hopes and dreams?
Above all is there anything I can do to help make those hopes come true?

I posted back in July that I resubbed to Warcraft – today I unsubscribed. Last time I did that it’s because I wasn’t enjoying the game anymore. This time? It’s because it’s just simply not a priority. I decided the cost vs benefit wasn’t there and the subscription wasn’t going to enhance my life. For my birthday I got a six month sub to Swtor, that runs out in November so I can play with that for a couple of months if I’m so inclined. I have Marvel Heroes – which runs without a sub – and numerous other games for downtime. I don’t need to pay £9.99 a month for one game. Maybe next year I’ll get a pass for Warcraft for a few months for my birthday but for now I’m calling it quits.

So why am I mentioning this? Well it comes back to those questions I asked – “what is important to me?” I’ve always considered myself to be a person driven by reason and logic, not emotion. I like structure and order. For a long time I’ve considered myself a writer, and it is ‘creative’ writing but I’d not really attached that word to myself. I’ve said countless times that I’m “not an artist” so it is a revelation to actually think “yes I am artistic, I am an artist and that is who I am”.

Over the last few months I’ve drawn a few pictures. I would get frustrated when it wasn’t coming out how I wanted but I mostly just enjoyed the process. I started looking up resources on specific parts I was struggling with, and I can see a substantial improvement from one picture to the next.

Earlier I said that I’d told myself repeatedly, and expressed to others, that “I’m not an artist” and that I have “no artistic talent” but maybe that doesn’t matter as much as I once thought it did. When I was at school I loathed P.E. class but on various occasions since becoming an adult I have voluntarily undertaken exercise regimes. I had to stop all of them eventually due to injury but on multiple occasions I’ve exercised several days a week.

Maybe it’s the same with art. Just because I hated Art in school, and I felt that what I produced was much worse than everyone else, doesn’t mean I can’t do art now if I want. Rather than constantly putting myself down and saying dejectedly “I can’t draw” maybe I can try, and with practice and YouTube tutorials and time, maybe I can get better. Maybe one day I can get to the stage where I think “yeah I can draw”.

I write because I have ideas and I love to tell stories. I can draw because I enjoy the act of drawing, and I like looking at something I created. If I want to mess around in my own time, and attempt to write/draw a graphic novel, or make a simple cartoon, or anything like that then why not? Being creative – being artistic – enhances my life. It’s what I like doing, it’s what is important to me.

I have a ten year old copy of Adobe – the CS3 collection. Unlike most people my age I bought it, as I didn’t know how to pirate and I wouldn’t have dared even if I had known how. It was horrifically expensive so I’ve just continued to use it; and never even looked to see what version they are on now, because I knew I could never afford to upgrade. This is where the “cancelling the Warcraft sub” comes in because for the same money per month as the game I can get the latest version of photoshop.

Due to my student status for a bit more than the Warcraft sub I can get the complete Adobe creative suite. That isn’t horrifically expensive – that’s possible. There are downsides of course; because it’s a subscription if I cancel then I’ll lose access to the programs (just as I lose access to the Warcraft game). Also the 65% discount is only for the first year, it’s 50% discount after that as a student, and that’s quite significant at an extra £100 a year. It is fairly horrific what the full price will be when I graduate but that’s a problem that is four years away.

If I already have a copy then why spend money at all? Good question. There are at least two newer models for my phone. My iPod is over a decade old. I don’t buy new clothes until they rip because they’ve been washed too many times. My furniture is a hodgepodge mix of flat-pack and inherited, nothing matches and one of the bookshelves isn’t in great shape but it works. I’m not someone that upgrades things unnecessarily. I did recently trade in my eight year old MacBook for an iPad and I suppose that situation is similar to this one with the Adobe creative suite.

There comes a time when refusing to upgrade is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Odd expression I know but it’s the one that comes to mind. I didn’t need to trade in my MacBook but the iPad offered me so many more features, at about 1/4 of the weight. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse in a way. It’s the same with photoshop. I wanted to get some brushes from a tutorial but found they’d only work with CS5 and above. The tutorial screens don’t look anything like my version and I find it hard to follow along. They talk about tools I don’t have. I can use my version just fine but I’m limited as the rest of the world has moved on.

In two weeks I’m going to start my new course and my life is going to change. As Fitz once said to Jemma “this time embrace the change.” and that is what I’m going to do. I’m not going to make any concrete plans until I know my timetable and what the course demands of me, but I can however sketch out some vague plans.

Let’s assume the course requires 40 hours a week, the same as a full-time job. Only part of that will be contact hours but I want to do well so I’ll be doing all the recommended reading, and research, and homework and anything else I can to ensure I get good marks and the most out of it. That’s the same as a 9-5 job which leaves me evenings and weekends to do what I’d like.

What I want is to spend at least an hour a few days a week working on my art skills. I also want to keep up the writing and I’m going to be more specific about that and say I’d like 1000 words a day. That will take me half an hour if I get back in the swing of it, so I can easily spare the time. I like being part of the Rumbelle fandom and I want to read the fanfics, and comment on them, which I’ve been rather negligent on lately. I also want to give serious consideration into offering a beta reading service professionally. That would earn me some money, which I could really do with, and at the very least that would subsidise my creative outlay if nothing else. It would also give me practice at dissecting stories which can only be good for me as a writer.

So how am I going to achieve this? By being a little stricter with myself really. Like a lot of people I don’t know where my time goes. I sit down and I click around tumblr, and before I know it an hour has passed and I’ve done nothing. I already know how to track my word count. I want to set aside half an hour a few times a week for fanfic reading. I want to make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew so I won’t dive into the beta reading until January, by then I’ll have completed a semester and have a better idea about where I stand with uni.

The art is going to be tracked a little differently, in fact that comes full circle back to blogging regularly. I’m going to post my works in progress. I’m going to say what I’m working on. I’m going to state my aim, and then see whether I accomplished it. I know the Adobe suite offers abilities to record my work so I might even look into doing that down the road. Who knows maybe one day I’ll tidy up those posts and publish a guide on how to go from “I’m not an artist” to “I’m happy with what I can do” but that’s just a pie in the sky dream.

Speaking of dreams I’ve talked about what’s important, and what I’m going to do, but I haven’t really voiced my hopes and dreams. Mostly that’s because I’m afraid of putting them in black and white. I’m afraid of being laughed at, or of failing to live up to them. I’ve said before that I dreamed that one day I would be able to pay the bills with my books but it’s not just that.

I dream that I’ll be able to pay the bills. That’s it and I’m not too fussed how that happens. If I can get a job in Tesco’s to pay the bills while I plough all my free time and energy into creative pursuits then that’s fine with me. I’ve not been able to get a job due to ill health for a long time. Above all I dream that will change and I will be capable of making a living.

That sounds quite morose I know but I’m just saying there are levels to the dream. Sure if I can make a living off just my books then wow fantastic. If I could make a living off a mixture of the books and beta reading then wow amazing. I would love to be my own boss and make a living off creativity – off the pen if you like. If I have the opportunity I might take an editing course, so I could have that skill and offer copy edits to supplement my income. That’s certainly not something I would be able to do without training. You are reading my blog, you know how bad my punctuation is! Who knows maybe I’ll even surprise myself and one day I’ll be able to offer book covers, or perhaps get back into web design. I very much doubt it (whispers I have no artistic talent /slaps self on head) but who knows stranger things have happened.

I’m just talking possibilities now and that’s the point – the sky is the limit! BUT at the end of the day it’s not about what is possible, it’s about what is important to me. What do I actually want? What am I actually motivated to do? Only time will tell with how I get on with my various endeavours. People change, what I want now might not be what I want in a few years time. That’s growth and you know what that is ok too. I’m not locking myself in with this post, I’m giving myself permission to try.

You know what I think that’s the most important thing of all.