In the mid-2000’s, I first discovered Tumblr as an alternative to the less than stellar blogging experience I’d found through the likes of Blogger, and with slightly more design freedom than things like WordPress. I had no idea at the time, what the real purpose of Tumblr was, only that almost immediately I found myself enamored by the different worlds I found there. It was around this time I also found fan fiction, fan art, and more importantly the concept of Fandom. Like most who find themselves at the overwhelming precipice of all things fan related, I devoured all things fan related, and within two years, or so on the site, I found myself legitimately sick of Harry Potter. To the point at which, I did not see Deathly Hallows part I (and have not to this day).
If you know nothing else about me, you likely know that I’m kind of a big fan of change. So much so that I recently (for no other reason than a change) changed my phone from the iPhone 7+ to the One Plus 3T. It’s actually very much my favorite change to date, and I realize that to make such changes is a huge matter of being fortunate enough to do so (because goddess knows technology is rarely if ever cheap). But occasionally these changes are not necessarily ones that require a great deal of money (if any). They can be as simple as changing what genre I’m writing in (which happens frequently), or changing a small thing or other about my podcast graphic (which I’ve done twice now). Occasionally, it’s a change in my brand and how I showcase myself on the internet. For years now, almost yearly in fact, I’ve made some kind of branding update to my blog. It’s become so common, I’m sure that most of my readers probably just think of it as this normal thing that I do, because I get bored with the same thing, and the great thing about being a graphic designer (and partly my downfall) is that I have the technology and the means to make these changes on my own, without any extra financial cost to myself.
I’ve come to realize that I’m actually not alone in this, my friend Adrianne who’s also a designer, has expressed that she’s rebranded herself several times, and that actually makes me feel better about the situation. Even moving my website from WordPress to Wix, and then moving my blog back to WordPress while keeping the general site with Wix, was a major design change. But one that felt necessary all the same.
I want to make it a point not to redesign myself all the time going forward, but I have been working on some changes to the way in which my site currently operates. It isn’t a major design overhaul, but it is a formatting overhaul that I think is ultimately going to suit me more going forward because it’s going to create a more structured framework for which all future page additions will be designed. It won’t go into effect until I’ve got all current pages accounted for and prepped in the new format, so this is more of an informal announcement. Something new is coming. Relatively soon-ish.
One of my earliest goals for this website was to challenge myself as both a writer and a graphic designer. Because I don’t work in my field, my design has to be largely work that I do for myself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be somewhat limiting. It’s not for a lack of trying that I don’t work in my field either, immediately after graduation I applied to as many graphic design companies as I felt qualified for, and even some I felt entirely unqualified for, and most couldn’t even be bothered to send a form rejection letter. Randomly I had one actual interview with a graphic design firm that was local, four months after I got my current job, a few days before Christmas. I thought the interview went well enough, but being that it was a few days before Christmas they informed me they’d get back to me with a copywriting test for one of the two positions that was open. They never did, and wondering when they would actually be open again, I never ended up emailing them back either, and so nothing came of it. I later learned that a friend’s boyfriend had applied there with similar results (and he had actually called several times), so I didn’t feel too bad about it.
Graphic design can be a difficult field to break into, particularly if like me you tend to work more outside the mainstream bubble. The fact that I went against the grain and printed my portfolio with a matte-ish black background was a subject of excitement for many, and debate for others. It was as if no one in the world had ever considered the concept of a portfolio that rather than printed on crisp white pages, be printed on crisp black pages. I got loads of compliments from people, the most common of which being, I love that but I could never pull that off. There was nothing particularly special about using a black background versus a white background (though make no mistake, the background color absolutely changes the way you see the colors and you respond to the design), and yet perhaps this is part of the reason finding work in my field was particularly difficult. There were plenty of designers, less original than myself who managed to make it.
I’m not bitter about not getting that job, or even not working in the field. In truth, though I enjoy graphic design, I view it as more of a hobby, a thing I do between writing projects to stay in the realm of the creative yet not quite writing. I prefer to continue to answer only to myself (I’m a harsh enough critic, thank you), than have to worry about getting approval for my designs from fifty thousand people, none of whom can agree on what direction they want to go in.
Over the weekend Apple released the Public Beta for macOS: Sierra, as a huge Apple fan, and someone who loves to be on the cutting edge of technology, I downloaded it the day it was available. Being in beta format however means that this is not the solid software one would generally expect of a public release. It can be buggy and certain features may not work properly because it isn’t the ‘final version’ of the software. (I realize while writing this the metaphor for my transition).
I love to jot down notes. Scribbling thoughts and ideas that come to mind; were computer files, physical scraps of paper, I would likely be buried in hundreds upon hundreds of pages of just different notes. Notes for stories, notes for parts of a series, notes on my thoughts about relationships in general, my dislike of certain authors, my transition and everything in between. This also means that, try though I might, I’m not as organized with these notes as I’d like to be, but over the weekend as I backed up my computer (admittedly after installing the beta version of macOS Sierra), I started looking at some of my notes, and organizing them into a larger Scrivener file with some of my thoughts and ideas, and possible blog posts for the future.
It was interesting seeing some of my thoughts and notes from early in my transition,. There were times that felt like I was never going to be able to fully accomplish my transition because it felt so overwhelming that I didn’t even know where to begin. Now with two years of full time experience under my belt and the plethora of knowledge that goes with being in transition for the better part of three years now, I know now that there is no right or wrong way to begin. Transitioning is a personal experience, it’s something we all have to come to on our own terms, in our on ways, and in our own time. For me, the start of my journey was my full time experience because it was something I could do without having to ask anyone’s permission.
I didn’t need any letters, I didn’t really need a great deal of money, it was just in starting small, and living my life. Eventually after I got a job I was able to afford my name change, and to really feel like I was beginning my transition. Changing my name and gender marker along with starting hormones gave me a new lease on my life that I hadn’t fully realized it would. Reading my notes there’s a part of me that wants to tell myself that even though it’s going to take time (and patience isn’t your strong suit), that this experience sort of helps with that. I realize however that these experiences with my transition have made me the person I am today.
More often than I have in a long time, I find myself with the desire to write things out by hand. One of the reasons I find myself loving it more and more is because there’s something rather freeing about writing something out longhand. In the virtual world of your computer, even with the best apps, there’s really a limited amount of ways in which to write something, but on paper, you have the freedom to write in the lines, in between the lines, sideways, upside down, all the way around the page. You really have complete and utter freedom, you can make notes to yourself in the margins or even make a little doodle.
Arguably one of the best parts, for me, about hand writing is the fact that you get a sort of two-for-one draft of anything you’re writing. You get whatever you hand wrote and then, as they generally do, things change during the process of typing it into the computer and so it offers you an opportunity to edit a story without actually getting seriously into editing and rewriting things in the major way one does during the editing process.
I’d like for 2015 to be the year I start hand writing more things, that’s why I began with this post. It is, admittedly completely off the rails from my original handwritten draft, but that’s part of the beauty of writing the ‘first/rough’ draft by hand. It allows for changes like this, for spontaneity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing things on the computer, I have often argued that I do an entirely different caliber of work on the computer versus when I’m writing long hand, but there’s something to be said about the mix of the two, of writing it out longhand, mostly to write out ideas and outlines, and then moving to the computer to really flesh everything out into a fully realized story.