This weekend I took the time to watch one of the earliest mecha shows by the prolific Yoshiyuki Tomino, of Mobile Suit Gundam fame. At 26 episodes, Zambot 3 is one of the shortest Tomino shows and an easy binge watch. It is also an early attempt at deconstructing the mecha genre, dealing with what at the time at least was one of the most commonly ignored elephants in the genre: the aftermath of the damage caused by fights.
I’m taking a break from binge watching the newest season of Voltron to write this and I’m at a bit of a loss for words. I think that’s because my mind is filled with thoughts of giant robots. I’m still writing Kyuranger reviews for Geek Volcano as well…and I need to finish my latest review after I finish watching Voltron!
I’m currently editing an article about Gunbuster, the 1988 Gainax classic which manages to tell an amazing (and heart-breaking) story in only six episodes. Gainax has perfected the art of the short series – usually in the form of slapstick, fast-paced OVAs with bright colors and memorable characters. It made me realize that all of my favorite short binge watches are either from Gainax or by production studios ran by former members of Gainax – in particular, Studio Trigger. This list includes my favorite shows and OVAs that only ran for 13 episodes or less (most for only 6). Of course I have to start with my inspiration for this article:
I graduated 7 months ago. I’m employed, my non-profit work has been going well, and mostly importantly, I’ve been making huge strides in my goals to a) spread and b) make money from my writing. Not as much as I’d like but that’s because I underestimated the process:
I anticipated the hustle but I did not anticipate the TIME.
As both an Aries and an asshole with anxiety, I am an impatient motherfucker. Most of the promising writing leads I found in January didn’t come to fruition until the end of June. After 6 months, my approved poems were finally published in a magazine. In the same amount of time, I finally received feedback on the first draft I sent for my first paid online article. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful – I’m excited and thankful for both of these opportunities – I just honestly didn’t expect the process to take this long.
As someone who used to work as a managing editor of a literary journal, I should have seen this coming. Because of that same experience, I hold no resentment – I know how time-consuming that work is! Really, this has helped with my optimism and incentive to keep at it, because once these pieces get published, I want to have at least a few others out there going through the same process!
What has this taught me other than to try to be less of an impatient asshole? Well, the most significant lesson I’ve taken from these experiences is that I need to keep submitting, submitting, submitting and pitching, pitching, and pitching. I need to do this even when I’m still waiting to hear back from the dozens of other places I’ve reached out to.
In semi-related news, I am the featured poet for a show this weekend and for a show in August! I’m spending what free time I currently have on creating handmade merch. I’m also still writing Kyuranger reviews for Geek Volcano and have a couple new reviews and articles planned for this blog this month.
- Current drink: Lancaster Strawberry Wheat
- Current book: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
- Current audio book: We Eat Our Own by Kea Wilson
- Current music: a mix about cats, love, breakfast, and being tired
i am wordless without you
(correction: i am without speech)
everyone here knows me
because of you
but you’re not here so they don’t see me either
a spider with a leg torn off
i am not charming
i am just scraping by
my insignificance is not even noticed –
that is how insignificant i am
indignant pride/before you, i had none
after you, i am left/missing the lie
- Current drink: Spotted Cow by New Glarus
- Current book: Hip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 1 by Ed Piskor
- Current audio book: Understanding the Fundamentals of Music by Robert Greenberg
- Current music: KUMIRA – Road (with Rheehab)
Life is weird, but I’m back at a full-time office job now and will be able to pay off about 90% of my debts with my first paycheck this Friday.
That feels good.
What doesn’t feel good is the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I’ve given up – that I’ve surrendered to feelings of inadequacy and my inability to make money as a writer after months of trying. But those thoughts are dumb. I know logically that they are dumb. I haven’t given up and I didn’t completely fail: I now have a more mature understanding of what it takes to be a writer.
I am now practicing a positive thinking and spinning. I have to work weekends now (which means that I can’t perform at festivals or sell my art at events)? Well, that means that I can use my time to hone my skills for when I do have weekends free again. I don’t share a day off with my boyfriend now? Well, I now have more time during the day to do the creative (and boring) things I can’t normally do while he’s home – leaving my evenings open for us to have a chill, distraction-free time.
I’ve also started utilizing a very visual organizational approach: I have a giant piece of drawing paper hung up in my bedroom laying out my weekly goals. They are divided into these sections:
- Sleeping (a big struggle of mine!)
- Jobs (I still have 2 part time gigs to juggle with my new full-time one)
- Personal maintenance (mainly good habits and doing my skin care routine)
- Morning routine
- Creative time
- Other (errands like bill paying, appointment setting, volunteering, and grocery shopping)
These may seem super basic and unnecessary to list. However, I’ve found that I struggle with balancing all of them. For example, some weeks I’m on top of my cleaning and errands, but no creative stuff gets done. Or I’ll paint for three straight days and sleep three hours per night, neglecting everything else. If I need a very large list on my wall to make me a little less of a hot mess, so be it.
Only time will tell how successful my new plan is. But I can’t write if I don’t have food in my stomach and a roof over my head, so I think I’m on the right track.
- Current drink: knock-off grapefruit LaCroix
- Current book: Womanthology: Heroic by Ann Nocenti et. al.
- Current audio book: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
- Current music: The Deli – Encounters [Full BeatTape]
I spent much of my time in graduate school lamenting the fact that I spent so much time reading for class that I didn’t have any time to read for myself. Conversations with acquaintances about my background often included the question “What are you reading?” to which I learned that Genre Knowledge in Disciplinary Communication was not the preferred response. In those final weeks of school, I created a Goodreads account, an extensive (but not exhaustive) list of books to read in 2017, and gave myself the New Year’s goal to read 35 books.
As of May 30, I have read 55 books.
This was not totally intentional. It helped that I was working only part time; now that I am a full-time employee, I expect my reading numbers to drop dramatically. But I found that once I fell into the dreamy abyss of reading that it was easy to develop a reading routine. I experimented a lot: the books included literary classics, 600-page manga omnibuses, short story anthologies, self-help books, and young adult fantasy and horror novels. I found at least one book in each genre truly enjoyable.
I have only felt positive effects from this new habit. Reading dozens of books has helped me as a person, especially in my communication and coping skills. I find that casual conversation comes easier to me now, as if the characters and dialogue I’ve read have prepared me for new experiences. Reading has also proven a excellent stress reliever. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I just go into another room, close the door and get lost in a story.
Where I see the greatest differences are in my analytical and writing skills. My critical think improved, especially in reviewing media: my reviews on Geek Volcano have become both shorter and better. I find it easier to make connections, predict, and find common tropes. I no longer find the need to summarize unnecessary details, letting my commentary paint my interpretation of the episode (or movie, or book, etc.)
My writing skills have greatly benefited, mainly because I’ve familiarized myself with genre elements and some common patterns of good story and character development. I recently finished reading a self-published novel which had the best intentions but was poorly executed. In fact, it had a lot of the pitfalls of my unfinished novel that I currently consider nonpunishable: namely, rough pacing, more telling than showing, and flat characters. Before I couldn’t unable to pinpoint why a book didn’t seem good. This one in particular had it’s greatest issue in that it was written like a movie or a comic book – which happen to be the media that the author enjoys most. Just as a good artist familiarizes herself with the techniques of the greats before her, a writer must read.
I think the greatest benefit that reading has given me as a writer is that my confidence in my writing increased, causing me to write more. With more writing, I have seen even more improvement. I was afraid of awful sloppy drafts until I realized that even the authors who I respect deal with them. I also edit more judiciously (i.e., killing my darlings) because I know that if something truly is good, I can use it in a future work where it fits better.
I haven’t decided yet how I am going to balance my reading and writing time with my new schedule. Maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll hit 100 books by the end of the year! But I feel like it would be an even better achievement if I produced one book that I consider publishable in that time instead. Still, keeping up on my reading will help me reach my writing goals, too.