The tumblr of my mind... or... katas of more than one artistic pursuit

One of my coworkers joked that he’d really love to see a tumblr of “What’s on Ken’s mind”. Because people get used to the idea that there’s usually a bunch of stuff working it’s way through my brain at the same time and that if I mention what I did lately outside of work in conversation, there’s this endless cycle of strange things that I will mention doing. I’m eventually going to get to something I’m looking to try doing, but I’m going to get there through a circuitous route so that you can actually understand a complete set of thoughts.

There is no such thing as normal, but there are folks who go to work and then come home to watch TV or maybe play some soccer or do crafts or whatnot. Whereas I flit between a variety of things, all of which I’ve gone far enough into the details of that I’ve reached the limits of a “starter” setup and where I can understand deep aspects of. I just tend to call these things my “creative projects”.

I’m getting better at controlling this in the past few years. This is largely because I’m always generating these crazy fully-formed ideas that sound awesome, but I wasn’t finishing anything in particular, and this therefore causes me to have migrated towards the point at which I tend to write detailed notes in journal form of all of my best ideas but not actually start on them until later. The goal is to finish a higher percentage of projects and not keep too many space-consuming objects around the house.

I have a small degree of annoyance that the most popular creative thing I do involves pictures of women. I mean, it’s fine that I’ve got something that people can find interesting, but I’m always suspecting that for every person who is appreciating what I do with light and form and stuff, there’s another person surfing the internet one-handed. But… really, I’ve got something that I like to do that makes me money and that’s a lot less frustrating, frankly, than spending a bunch of time chasing after a more ‘artistic’ profession that I’d probably hate if I had.

Thus, mostly I do my creative projects for myself because I have to and because it’s fun and if people like it, that’s a nice bonus. So I’m going to talk about this.

Dr. Sketchy's SF

I realized a few years back that none of my creative projects ought to involve a future that requires cars. The implications of this have the potential to be either absurdly subtle or bizarre or maybe just fascinating.

I accidentally realized that I’m very close (as in, there are about four “fill in this scene here” notes) to finishing the first draft of a novel that I started shortly before NaNoWriMo from a random idea. The best way to describe it is a post-apocalyptic bicycle-oriented science fiction. It’s not the first time I’ve actually finished a novel, although I haven’t actually finished a novel in a long time. The problem is that I understand how unpleasant it is to read a novel where the author has spent too much time trying to make it an Aristotelian dialog. This is the road of bad science fiction.

While we’re on the subject.. everybody who likes writing should write a novel. Even if it’s stupid or silly or not very good or something only five people will find interesting. I might do something with it, or I might have realized that it was a bad idea and merely appreciate the relaxed feeling one gets after banging out a complete idea.

This is tangentially related to the corporate blog and the three articles I’ve cranked out lately. See, we’ve got a bunch of articles on the corporate blog that are dry technical pieces. But I have things to say, on the corporate blog, that is a thought that I’d like to bring to life wrapped in a story wrapped in an explanation. The same sort of writerly things I do for the writing for me is useful at making sure I can crank out text for my employer. Now, they have generally offered to write it for me, but I kinda like the idea of preserving as much of my voice as possible in articles ascribed to my name. And so my editor pretty much told me that I’m decently funny in person and that I should try to make sure that some of that comes out when I write. Which is hard, because I’ve gotten flack in the past for not being serious enough while writing things, and I also know rationally that there is situational humor that is funny when you are drinking beers with friends and then there’s transcendent humor that’s actually funny to people who have never met you.

I will note that I was not able to put “butt” or a Lance Armstrong drug joke in the corporate blog, but I did put them in, just to see if I could get away with it. Ordinarily, I’d just drop about three or four other thoughts that are tangential to this on the floor, but because since my coworker wants to see a tumblr of my mind, I’ll just mention this deletion.

So I dug up the next project out of the queue, because I need some space on the book. And I was looking back towards my drawing skills and realized that I was getting pretty good towards mid-last-year with the Weekly Draw-Off… but I’d lost a lot of those skills of late. Now, I ride with some real bona-fide artists on the CalTrain. And, frankly, most of them are always going to be better at this than I.

On the other hand, I’ve got a comic that would actually be pretty neat if I drew it and the sort of thing where I could draw it, see if it goes anywhere, and then stop, rendering a complete story. And if you look at the first few years of Schlock Mercenary, clearly not-especially-fancily-drawn cartoons that have some good ideas and storylines behind them work out just fine. So I’ve been kinda working on my drawing skills, getting them back together. Also, it’s fun drawing, so even if I decide it’s too much trouble to actually draw this thing which I seek to draw, I can still have fun drawing.

Which led me to Dr. Sketchy’s. Now, I took a college-level art course in college. ArtGD 332 and 333, which was this weird intermeshing between computer science majors and art majors. And the course list required me to either buy colored pencils or a set of colored art markers. I was leaning towards colored art markers, except everybody told me that was silly and stupid and that I should totally go for the pencils instead. So, because I was short on art supplies and wanted something exciting and new, I got myself a nice art case that can be worn as a backpack or strapped atop my panniers on my bike rack… and some markers. Because markers tend to like to be purchased in large numbers, I just got a set of grayscale markers. And I am presently realizing that I shouldn’t have let people talk me out of the markers, because they rock in all sorts of ways that colored pencils do not.

And Dr. Sketchy’s is great. Pretty much, it’s the same as a drop-in drawing session: pay a small amount of money to pay the models, then you draw for a few hours with a bunch of other people. Repeat every so often. But one of the people there was telling me that some of her friends were scandalized. See, normally drop-in drawing sessions feature nude models, but Dr. Sketchy’s features CLOTHED models.

As it turns out, neurologically, you can’t change your mental wiring too fast. Thus, you can spend all day trying to draw people, but you won’t get better that much faster than if you do shorter bursts of dedicated practice.

So, flush from a very nice Dr. Sketchy’s session, I was reminded that I’d added posemaniacs to my Read It Later a long time ago. So I’ve been spending little 5-10 minute drawing sessions where I can get a nice quick increment of practice.

Now, before I had to take a break from improving my singing voice, I was doing the same thing with that. Doing exercises to make sure I was singing properly. But things went pear-shaped and I had a product to get out the door and a few other things that I won’t talk about.

What I’d like to do is take all of the skills that require regular kata-style practice and just consistently cycle through them just about every day. But there’s a certain satisfaction to know that I did my creative mental aerobics as well as my bike ride in a given day. This is what I’d like to do.

Now, it’s kinda silly to post a tumblr of the things going through my mind.

But I did create a tumblr (mostly because I’d already created one for the Weekly Draw-Off) for my sketchy stuff, just to see what happens. So far, there are zero people following it. Oh well. It’ll be a while before it starts to get interesting.