Saturday, April 29, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: April 22 – April 28

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday was very productive. I packed my bag for Drink and Draw, adjusted a karaoke performance to share with my Amino folks, did laundry, and read a bunch of a graphic novel. Also did all the blogging and talked to my first Pitch Wars mentee on Skype for a while. Belle took me to the event and I got my webcomic drawing and some fan art done. I was too tired at home afterwards to get anything done though. :(
  • Sunday I finished reading the graphic novel quickly because my friends Eric and Robbie were doing a podcast on it and I was supposed to be on it. I did the podcast discussion, and all that plus karaoke and ukulele recordings. (I was in an Alanis Morissette mood, I guess.) Then I drew more fanart to celebrate my cartoon blog hitting 700 followers, and I opened some packages I ordered. Some of my cosplay clothes are here. :) I didn't do the dishes 'cause lazy.
  • Monday I worked on a couple letters at work and had to watch an engineering training video. After, I finished my fan art from the night before, actually did the dishes, and cleaned up around the house a bit.
  • Tuesday was Many Meetings Day. We were actually supposed to have three meetings but it actually became two. We had a brainstorming meeting for a project we got shortlisted on, and then later we had our usual office meeting. I got to eat Jimmy John's sandwiches. :) Mom came over later and we just hung out instead of going shopping. We ate some tater tots and watched music videos. I doodled a little but didn't finish the drawings.
  • Wednesday I missed the bus, but it was slow and caught at a light and I had my bike, so I rode past it and picked it up at its next stop! Ain't I a tricky one. I chatted online with a friend and didn't have much excitement at the office. Weird things happened at the bus stop on Wednesday: two women were complimenting my butt and commenting on my clothes, and then a dude came in discussing his enema, and then another dude came in and ranted about divorcing his wife because she "wants to be a feminist" and is having sex with "some black dude." Yikes. I left the bus stop to stand somewhere else and got a compliment on my Steven Universe shirt, haha. I met Jeaux and we ate at WOW Burger and got the #3 SU comic, which we read together. I posted some comic reviews after he left but I was super tired.
  • Thursday I had some e-mail troubles (I hate when e-mail programs erase what you already spent a bunch of time on!!), and I chatted with a friend and was sleepy all day. Drew a little bit, posted pictures on Amino, and had a very slow day.
  • Friday I finished reading my first Pitch Wars mentee's book but I have to come up with some final notes. Also finished the book I was reading on the bus and wrote reviews. I managed to whip an Access database into shape. Sort of. And then at home I had to do webcomics and ended up crashing.
    Articles, Interviews, Mentions:
    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks. Four-star review.
    • Finished this week: Steven Universe #3 by Melanie Gillman and Katy Farina. (This is a comic book.) Four-star review
    • Finished this week: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Five-star review.
    • Currently reading: The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman.
      New singing performances:

      This week I performed "Forgiven" by Alanis Morissette. Watch out: it contains unattractive screaming.


      New drawings: 

      Pearl gets her turn to nap with Steven.
      She is a nightlight.
      A surprise drawing of Sugilite: New outfit concept that I made up! (We don't know what this character looks like right now, but it's different from the last time we saw her, so I'm guessing.)

      Webcomic So You Write Issue 71: "Hard Work."

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0624: "Hard on Her."

      New videos:

      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morissette. It came out all right!

      New photos:

      I took no photos of interest this week.

      Social Media counts:
      YouTube subscribers: 5,307 for swankivy (lost 9), 638 for JulieSondra (8 new). Twitter followers: 858 for swankivy (3 new), 1,330 for JulieSondra (5 new). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 207 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (1 new), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 125 likes for So You Write (lost 2). Tumblr followers: 2,483 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 113 (3 new).

      Wednesday, April 26, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Favorite Subject

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What was your favorite school subject when you were in elementary school? What about high school? What subjects did you despise?

      English/Reading was generally what I liked best as a kid. Depending on what we were working on, sometimes I liked art or music more, but usually in art or music we were doing something I didn't care about and just kinda found boring. I liked reading or writing time. And if the science class was about something I was really interested in, like the solar system, I ate it up and liked to read the textbook on my own.

      On my way to kindergarten
      In elementary school I usually really hated social studies. I hated math later in my life, but at this point I didn't mind math, but at that point arithmetic was relatively easy and I was okay at drills. But of course, like most kids who grew up nerdy, PE was probably the worst.

      Me in ninth grade with my vocabulary book
      In high school I still liked English class more than the others if we had a writing assignment--even if it was just writing about books or analyzing poetry, I was really good at those things and therefore I liked them more. (In my AP English class, one of my teachers was always using my papers as examples!) I also loved chemistry and a very small portion of biology (I enjoyed studying genetics, but pretty much hated all the other stuff), but physics class was the worst. I wasn't good at math but didn't despise it as much as physics. It was still pretty miserable so math was probably my worst subject, but I also hated history, even though I had good teachers. 

      But then above and beyond English was always my chorus class in high school. I took chorus every year, sometimes two periods of it because I sang with two different groups (an advanced choir and a show choir). I didn't have to take anything athletic in high school except I guess I took a summer course called Team Sports. And so few people took it that we couldn't even really do any teams, but it was all right.

      Overall I tended to like science and English and dislike social studies/history and math. And music and art really depend on what the subject is.

      Tuesday, April 25, 2017


      Last night I was so sick of my upstairs neighbors being inconsiderately loud at 12:30 in the morning that I washed my dishes loudly and muttered to myself a lot.

      I fantasized that maybe they could hear me slamming dishes around and wondered how they would like dealing with random crashes and thuds and slams and clanks. Even if nothing I do is shaking their house like their furniture-moving, jumping off high places, running in the halls, slamming drawers, and loud music does to mine.

      Thing is? I don't really believe in revenge. Because it doesn't feel good and it doesn't work.

      I have a big stick that I use to pound on the ceiling whenever they blast music (no idea if it has ever worked). If I wanted to, I could hey, just pound on the ceiling randomly after they go to sleep. Sometimes I'm awake when that happens (and you can always, without a doubt, tell that they are home and awake if they are). Why not give them a taste of their own medicine?

      a) Because if I woke them up, they'd be awake, and then they'd make noise and continue to bother me;

      b) Because they do not associate my noises with anything they're doing. They are inconsiderate and selfish, but they are not doing it just to mess with my life.

      I've complained to the apartment complex at least a dozen times, probably more. The current administration keeps saying they're "trying," but the trying so far seems to have included leaving a note on the door and "giving it a few days" (so what, they'll pick a time to have a family conference to discuss the note and collectively decide to stop being obnoxious?) and also knocking on the door ("they're not answering" *shrug* oh well) and I think someone from there tried to call but was not able to reach anyone.

      In other words, they haven't effectively been told they're causing a problem for me, and the people in charge of making it better have acted like it's a problem of doing enough to make me think they're trying, not a problem of doing something that results in actual connection with the people causing the problem and making them recognize that they are causing a problem, and also enforcing consequences.

      But they won't do that, because more than likely they think I'm the problem.

      I think this because on one of the occasions where the manager was telling me she was "going to try," she suggested that maybe when my lease is up in September, they can move me to an upstairs apartment.

      Yeah. Move ME. Because the problem isn't them making noise; it's me being annoyed by it. And, as the manager carefully suggested, I will probably be unhappy below anyone.

      You know, because I must just be sensitive about footsteps above me or something. It can't be because a family of at least three adults and two kids and a dog are literally moving furniture so it scrapes against the floor, at least two dozen times a day, and this is not an exaggeration, and I have given them a video capturing their noise with time stamps and dates showing that the upstairs neighbors are making a baffling amount of noise after midnight consistently, but you know, what can they really do if they can't directly observe it, right?

      Sleep over at my house. If you can sleep. Try, I dare you.

      When the manager said they'd be glad to move me, I made my final decision that I am moving out. I find it unacceptable that their solution would be to move me away from the problem instead of acknowledging that there is a problem and stopping it, and I find it unacceptable that I would be the incredibly inconvenienced person who would reward them for this with more of my money.

      So I guess that's a form of punishment, though not revenge. If you won't address my needs even though I've made them more than clear, I'm not going to give you my business anymore. Revenge, though? Not interested. I'm not planning to post scathing reviews on websites. Not planning to leave a passive-aggressive note on my neighbors' door or in my file. If they have a place for me to do so, I will certainly state for the record that the reason I'm moving is almost 100% because I can't deal with the neighbors' noise anymore. I don't care about vengeance or comeuppance or karmic fulfillment--whatever you call delighting in people getting what's coming to them. (Cosmic justice is fun to watch once in a while, but I am not out to help it along.) I don't get any satisfaction from it, and it does not make the world better.

      I'm not sure if this is a philosophical post or a rant about my neighbors but I guess I'm just gonna post it.


      Saturday, April 22, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: April 15 – April 21

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday did not see much accomplishment besides blogging and answering some messages (which I had to do from my living room because that was the room in which I could hear the neighbors' noise the least). I am constantly rearranging my sleeping and my everyday existence to be tormented by them as little as possible and no one will help me. This is why I'm moving in September. I just can't take it anymore.
      • Sunday I did more unnecessary blogging about cartoons, made an asexuality video and two karaoke videos and a ukulele video. Kind of a lot of video-making and music.
      • Monday I did some work on a letter for the office and got home relatively early because a co-worker drove me. I drew some doodles, bought some cosplay clothes for a costume I'm planning for summer, practiced my ukulele, and did the subtitles for my latest video.
      • Tuesday I got more drawings done and did more beta reading for my friend's book. At home I ate a massive quantity of rice for some reason, colored some doodles, and went to bed.
      • Wednesday was not notable at work. I went to meet Jeaux after and got yet another dude hitting on me at the bus stop trying to find out where I was going and why I didn't want to stop to talk to him. We ate at Pei Wei and I had a good tofu teriyaki bowl. Jeaux and I then went to my place to read the new Steven Universe tie-in book, Keep Beach City Weird, which had arrived in my mailbox that day. We also listened to Night Vale and after he left I wrote a review of the book.
      • Thursday I had a weird sleep schedule and was very tired at work. That app I downloaded to play with Steven Universe fans featured a couple more of my posts on its front page so now I am up to having it happen nine times in less than a month. Apparently that is unusual. Whee. Did some editing for my friend and finished a book. At the bus stop I finally talked to someone worth talking to, and gave him my e-mail so he could send me a short story he wrote. When I got home I ate dinner and talked to Victor on the phone while drawing comics.
      • Friday I received supplies and got my notary stuff so I'm officially a notary now. Who wants to get married? Hah. I read the story by the bus stop guy and sent him some thoughts. I found out at lunch that there is going to be a clump of new Steven Universe episodes starting May 8 (the marathon format is called "StevenBomb"; this is StevenBomb #6), so I got excited and sent the promo to Jeaux and Meghan so we could flip out. When I got home I posted my webcomic and prepared some homework for the upcoming Drink and Draw event.
        Articles, Interviews, Mentions:
        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week I did two performances. The main one was "Love Like You" by Rebecca Sugar.

          But I also wanted to do a duet of a song I'd recorded previously, and I found a partner. My partner is Oaklight, and they're singing the first part while I did the second part and the harmony. It's our duet version of "Here Comes a Thought," also by Rebecca Sugar. 


          New drawings: 

          Next in my series of sleeping Gems is Steven with Amethyst.
          I could have done a lot better on this one.

          An impromptu doodle of flashback characters hanging out.
          Rose Quartz (with the huge curly hair) has a ton of fan art with her and Pearl,
          but the other two, Garnet and Amethyst, certainly had special times with her too,
          so I wanted to draw that.

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0623: "Matter-of-Fact."

          New videos:

          My latest asexuality video is Letters to an Asexual #45. This one is about someone's objection that I am probably just too stubborn or too intellectual to want sex. Brilliant.


          My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Don't Cost Nothin'," which is a song from Steven Universe performed by Steven's dad. It's really cute but it doesn't have an ending (because in the show it fades into a completely different song), so I put an ending on it! Really fun little song though, and I think I got its character down right when I played it, for once.

          New photos:

          The giant quantity of rice I ate and then fell asleep.
          New book, new shirt. I got Keep Beach City Weird and a Lion shirt.
          Look, my notary stamp. It's official!

          And the haircut comparison photos for April:

          Front, February 2014
          Front, March 2017
          Back, February 2014
          Back, April 2017

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,306 for swankivy (lost 10), 632 for JulieSondra (2 new). Twitter followers: 856 for swankivy (1 new), 1,327 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 207 followers (no change) for swankivy, 649 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 126 likes for So You Write (lost 1). Tumblr followers: 2,490 (5 new). Instagram followers: 112 (2 new).

          Wednesday, April 19, 2017

          Wednesday Factoid: Go-to order

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What is your go-to order at restaurants?

          Probably a grilled cheese sandwich.

          I'm not an incredibly picky eater and I'm not unadventurous, but I'm a bit of a food wimp. I don't like most strong flavors, with the exception of sour--I can eat a lemon. But I'm grossed out by onions and I can't eat spicy food, including peppers. Digression here: People love to tell me that only those peppers are spicy while these ones are not, darling. I don't care if that is a "sweet" pepper. I promise you it is spicy to me and I can't eat it.

          I also don't like olives or bean sprouts or cabbage or raw tomatoes or black beans or pieces of garlic or cabbage or black pepper.

          So, given the options, it's tough to find food that is deliberately vegetarian that I can enjoy. People tend to assume if they buy a "veggie sub" option to add to the sandwich tray I'll be able to eat it, but I usually can't. Not without a lot of embarrassing sandwich opening to pull out stuff I can't eat.

          Cheese sandwiches are pretty safe, and anywhere that has a cheeseburger on the menu can make a hot cheese sandwich. But what I really appreciate are grown-up grilled cheese options. Some restaurants dress it up by putting tomato or mushrooms in it if you want, and some make it fancy by including four or five kinds of cheese. (Those are ridiculous. And tasty.)

          I like to make grilled cheese sandwiches at home too.

          If I have other choices, sometimes I'll get something like a side vegetable and french fries, a salad, soup after making sure they don't make it with beef or chicken broth (this is the case with most stuff like potato soup), or pasta or pizza.

          Mmmm, pizza.

          But yeah. Grilled cheese sandwich is something I end up getting an awful lot, and sometimes I have to find it on the kids' menu.

          Tuesday, April 18, 2017


          When I was in school I hated group projects. Well, so did almost everyone, but why, specifically, did I hate them?


          I guess it's not an unfamiliar story. One person does all the work because everyone else is a slacker and/or waits until the last minute, and that person was often me.

          I never really thought I was much of a leader, but in a group situation sometimes I told people what to do because I just wanted to be done and no one was doing anything. I hate group projects partly because almost everyone feels good about putting things off and would like to put them off until it's critical, while I want to get it off my plate as soon as I can (especially if it's something I don't like doing).

          This, I will admit, can cause problems. I have rushed forward into completing projects before and found it was to my detriment. I remember one time in school the teacher announced there would be an ongoing project for the entire marking period, and handed out an outline as to what would go in our final report. Given marching orders, I spent only a couple of days completing the tasks and creating a final product, thinking hey, won't it be nice if that's one class I mostly don't have to worry about for the next five weeks? Well, turned out the teacher irresponsibly did not disclose that there would be more structure to this project and we were going to continue getting more specific instruction on each of the report's parts, and we were expected to do them with this additional input. What I'd completed on my own was barely usable. I was pretty bummed.

          I LOVE getting things off my checklist. Most of the things it takes me forever to do, like getting back to e-mail or finishing reading books, are not time-sensitive really--there's no deadline, and there's no one really waiting for me to do it by a certain time or sitting around disappointed if I don't do it, so I do the other things.

          I find that I worry about getting things done far more if I do them later versus sooner. I feel a nervous sense of not being done and having the tasks hanging over my head, which makes it harder to enjoy the present. I can't just put important things down and forget for a while. So I either do them or I set aside a specific time to do them, knowing I have left myself enough time. Furthermore, I do a much better job on things if I'm not rushing. And given the quality of the work I've had to fix from group project partners giving me their contributions at the last minute, I think most people do better if they give themselves time.

          When other people procrastinate in situations when it doesn't affect me, I just kinda feel a little sympathetic for them and maybe a little frustrated on their behalf. But when people knowingly put something off that they had more than enough forewarning to be able to handle it with appropriate time management and it turns out to be something I was depending on or something they need me to fix for them, I get mad.

          Just get it done. Leave room for mistakes. Leave room for needing time to get more money. Leave room for needing time to access help tools if the thing wasn't as easy as you expected. Leave room for improvement. Leave room to do it wrong and then find out you need to do it right. 

          Leave room to run out of thread on your costume, or to find out it takes way longer than you thought to make that belt. Leave room at tax time for if it turns out you have a question about one of your forms, so you're not calling on tax day and waiting on hold for 90 minutes. Leave room for your computer to fail and eat your homework. Leave room to make that cake the day before the party so you can be sure it won't turn into a brick. Leave room to find a ride to your appointment so you don't turn up late. Leave room to get the lesson plans done, especially if you've never opened the form before and you don't know how to use it. Leave room to decide what you're going to wear if you're conflicted about it. Leave room to clean your house (or have it cleaned) if you're out to impress houseguests instead of staying up all night vacuuming and mopping. Leave room for things to not quite go according to schedule.

          What do you lose if you plan a little better? Christmas is the same day every year. If you want to cut down on stress and not run the risk of making your problems into someone else's problems that they have to drop everything and solve for you, pretend Christmas is two weeks before it is, and get the shopping done. You'll pay far fewer rush shipping fees, deal with far fewer crises when it's the wrong color, and endure far less embarrassment over screwing it up.

          I'll say one more thing to soften this up a little, though: I recognize that some things are last minute because of things you can't control (like, you know, you work for people who won't stop giving you things at the last minute, or because someone else didn't do their job, or because you are consistently overburdened). I'm not irritated at people who have extenuating circumstances, disorders that inhibit their executive function, or simply occasional lapses of common sense.

          I'm irritated with people who consistently put things off when they have complete power to not do that, and who overestimate their abilities and underestimate the required effort, and who need me to fix the mess or affect my ability to do my job because they won't do theirs in a timely manner.

          Saturday, April 15, 2017

          Personal Digest Saturday: April 8 – April 14

          Life news this week: 
          • Saturday I chilled with Victor most of the day. We spent the morning hanging out and walked over to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch and did some shopping. Played with toys. I got a featured post on that app again so I was enjoying responding to people's comments on my pictures of cartoon-inspired food. I did my blogging and some doodling.
          • Sunday I realized I'd left my toaster oven on all night after making a potato so how about that. (Nothing happened except I couldn't figure out why the kitchen was weirdly hot and the paint peeled up on my cabinet above the appliance. Glad it didn't turn into a dangerous situation.) Texted with a friend about cartoons, did some music recordings, and talked to Fred on the phone.
          • Monday I went to work, made a cartoon post about my books and comics which got put on the front page again (so, again, more fun conversations with people!) and had to edit a letter at work. Mom came over and took me out to eat with her roommate David. We also went grocery shopping and then just chatted with friends online.
          • Tuesday I had a low-key day at work, and after I got home I had the apartment manager come over to listen to the upstairs neighbors. She didn't hear anything worth harassing them about. Surprise. Then I found out I won the site-wide art contest on the Steven Universe Amino app. Wow! Well, that makes . . . one time . . . that I've ever won an art contest. . . . (Wait, didn't I win a poster contest as a kid or something? And another one in middle school? Yeah. Well that's it.) People really like me a LOT there! I got some boring adulting stuff done, like processing a return, filing a warranty, and reorganizing my accordion file of personal paperwork.
          • Wednesday I got a bunch of stuff done at work that I'd had on the back burner for a while. My company also got shortlisted on a project so YAY. On my way to meet with Jeaux a persistent dude kept hitting on me in a way that would have been sort of funny if it wasn't so awful. He asked me what brings me here . . . at the bus stop . . . (what do you think, dude?), asked me if I live "with a roommate," asked a really awkward question to find out if I was still in high school, asked me if I was doing anything later, asked for what I like to do and when I said read (and attempted to do so) he interjected that he never reads anything, read my shirt and stared at my boobs for a very long time after he was done reading it, asked me what my phone case was from and when I said it was from a cartoon he asked "you don't DRAW cartoons, DO YOU?" and when I said yes, he said "let me guess, you like to draw . . . flowers. and cats." (what?), and then attempted to get my phone number by saying "here, write your number down" and handing me his bus pass. I said no and he thought I just didn't understand him so he tried again. And then even AFTER I told him I was not giving him my number, he told me he was going to "some museums" this weekend if I was interested. WTF dude how awful would I have to be to you before you'd read me as not interested? Anyway Jeaux and I ate at Holy Hog and listened to Night Vale, and I fell asleep like right after he left.
          • Thursday I did some editing on my first Pitch Wars mentee's next manuscript, did some work on the shortlisting documents at the office, and had a conversation with a financial adviser (seems like I'll probably be good working with him in the future). At home I read liveblogs, talked to Victor, and drew some of my comic.
          • Friday at work was a little busy and I got to work on design again. Then just some forms and paperwork and making copies. Went home and posted some pictures on Amino (sharing some of my photos of merchandise again--it got put on the front page, AGAIN), and finished up my webcomic. Didn't do much after that because it took so long. I did a few doodles in pencil before falling asleep.
            New reviews of my book:
            Reading progress:
            • Finished this week: I didn't finish any books. Sorry.
            • Currently reading: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.
              New singing performances:

              This week's performance was "Marble Halls" by Enya.

              New drawings: 

              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0622: "Definitely Meant To."

              New videos:

              My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Vanilla Twilight" by Owl City. I kept forgetting the words while trying to play, so I just gave up and looked at the screen.

              New photos:

              Victor drinking Powerade and Sprite in Sweet Tomatoes
              Victor found a cool toy in Walmart.

              Victor always finds the coolest toys.

              My new Pearl shirt, out and about.
              I have an impressive collection of Steven Universe comics and books.
              Me celebrating my Steven Universe Amino Awards win in the Art category.
              (This is not the art that won the award. I guess she's just celebrating with me.)
              Jeaux on his phone in Holy Hog being a nerd with his
              Rubies shirt and Cookie Cat backpack.
              A fascinating photo of my computer screen
              as I redesigned a sign pole.
              Me at work thinking about something sad
              and trying not to think of the sad thing.

              Social Media counts:
              YouTube subscribers: 5,316 for swankivy (6 new), 630 for JulieSondra (4 new). Twitter followers: 855 for swankivy (2 new), 1,325 for JulieSondra (3 new). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 207 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 649 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,485 (1 new). Instagram followers: 110 (2 new).

              Wednesday, April 12, 2017

              Wednesday Factoid: Water Sports

              Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Can you swim? Do you play any water sports?

              Water sports hehehee never mind

              Uhm, I can swim, yeah. That's about as far as it goes.

              I don't really know how to swim properly, like I don't know how to do the backstroke or the breaststroke or whatever. But I can doggy paddle and float on my back. I have never been SCUBA diving and don't know how to do a proper dive (though I'll dive off a low board or the side of a pool). I think I've had a swimming lesson or two as a kid? But it was probably more supervised playing in a pool? I don't really like the ocean but I go in it once in a while if it's there.

              I've played volleyball in a pool, but never in any organized way. (I like it, though! I actually like volleyball in general.) I've never been waterskiing or anything like that. I don't know if it counts, but I have been canoeing. I got a certification in it with my parents and my sister when I was pretty young, and continued to go on short canoe trips with friends/family as an adult (but haven't done that in years).  

              Monday, April 10, 2017

              Excited About

              I guess it's no secret that I do a lot of stuff. People are always telling me they see me as productive and creative and prolific. I guess that's true. And here's the secret:

              I dive in and start working on something pretty much as soon as I'm excited about it.

              And then I bust that thing out quickly instead of dragging it out over a long period of time, all while I'm still sort of in the honeymoon phase of that idea.

              Usually it works out great. Sometimes, maybe not.

              Novels are famous for being multi-draft works. You have to rewrite them several times (usually), and sometimes there's even a complete overhaul or two. Some people spend weeks, months, years planning a novel, and just as long writing it. I do very little active planning. Although sometimes an idea has been percolating for a long time and I explode into writing it as soon as it finally connects to something I can grab onto.

              I have really not been doing that with writing lately. That's why you see blogging, singing, ukulele playing, activism videos, drawings, photos, book reviews, and no news of writing.

              It's mostly the other ideas that are jumping in and seizing me these days. I am not sure WHY, and it's unusual, though not unprecedented. I had a short story I was excited about a while back. I started writing it and I didn't like the tone or the mood of it so I stopped, figuring I'll just scrap this and start over at some point. I haven't done that. I was excited about my new YA novel with an asexual protagonist, but I haven't written anything new for her in a long time. (I think if I reread what I have, I'd be able to jump-start the next chapter, but I haven't sought it out.) And I haven't written any new novels, or started Bad Fairy 3, or done any editing/rewriting on other novels I could maybe show my agent. (She's still reviewing Bad Fairy 2.)

              Now, I know for a fact that if I got a book deal for the Bad Fairy series and it included the third as-yet-unwritten volume, I'd bust it out in a flash. (I'm like that, first of all, and secondly, I've written the story before in a less expanded form, so I know what happens.) I know I could decide to write that short story and get it out in an evening, or go back to writing Ace of Arts and see it finished probably in a couple months. But I don't do that. Because right now, for whatever reason? I'm not excited about it.

              I'm not sitting around bummed out that I "can't" write, and I don't have writer's block. I just have a system that has always served me well in producing things, and right now that system isn't directed at writing fiction. It's maybe a bit distressing, because a) I know how much I enjoy doing that and b) not producing anything when I have an agent ready to read it and send it to publishers is kinda silly. But to be honest, I've never messed with that formula before, with the exception of, like, school papers. I've never sat down unexcited about something and written it anyway.

              My method, if I were to decide I wanted to write stuff again right now, would be to get excited about it. And that's easy--rereading old stuff, applying creative exercises, checking out other writers' stories of success to inspire me. (Mostly that first item--reconnecting with my stuff makes me want to make more of it.) But it seems like right now I've been content just not making any new writing for a while. I'm not sad about it, though maybe I'm a little weirded out thinking "I SHOULD be doing this." But I don't feel like it right now. I'm enjoying creating some of my other things, like the fan comics and blog essays and webcomics and stuff.

              I figure this can't last much longer. But you never know. 

              Maybe I'll see what happens this week if I reread some chapters of my in-progress novel.

              Saturday, April 8, 2017

              Personal Digest Saturday: April 1 – April 7

              Life news this week: 
              • Saturday started off bad and ended up okay. I was SO MAD because I went to the apartment office to discuss a video I made of my upstairs neighbors behaving abominably, but first they were busy so I said I'd come back, and then when I came back THEY HAD CLOSED FOUR AND A HALF HOURS EARLY FOR NO APPARENT REASON, with a sign up saying they would be back Monday at 9 AM. Well. I leave before they open and return after they close during the work week, so I was ANGRY since I'd been waiting for this day to take the next step on dealing with this problem! And then they just up and close! I left an emotional message for them and they actually called me back and let me come over when a temp got there. (They had closed for an unplanned reason and put up the wrong sign about how long they'd be gone. Someone from another property had to come fill in.) So I told her my sob story and dropped off my evil video. She also said she'd call the neighbors for me.
              • And anyway after that I did my online stuff and posted a picture of my cool new toys and it got put on the front page on that Amino app I've been playing with so I made more friends and got more cool comments.
              • Sunday I did my taxes. I was kinda salty that I had to pay so much in taxes because I earned money as an author. (You're subject to a self-employment tax if you do that.) It was literally like a quarter of what I made on the dang book! Oh well. I celebrated being done by buying expensive comics on eBay. Then I played ukulele and did karaoke, did laundry, and talked to people on the Amino app because ANOTHER one of my Steven Universe posts got featured on their front page (at the same time as another one was still being featured). These people, um, really like me? I also was about to hit 600 followers on my cartoon blog so I drew a REALLY CUTE picture of two characters sleeping to celebrate. And I finally reported a person who stole my content and put it on YouTube because they weren't responding to my polite requests for credit.
              • Monday was back to work and I incorporated more data into the Access database I was building. I also worked on resumes and business cards. My coworker Sam drove me home. I went shopping at Michael's after work and then I did some private messaging with people on Tumblr who like to talk about nerdy things with me. I didn't get to post my drawing because my follower count stayed at 599 all night.
              • Tuesday my follower count had hit 600 so I posted my cute drawing before leaving for work. I was very busy all day and we had a meeting. I got a good sandwich and we had a decent meeting. I had to make some copies and update some lists. The thief on YouTube who stole content from me got their video removed and their account flagged. Nice.
              • Wednesday I missed the bus so I had to take a paid ride in. (I arrived in time to see it pull away! Darn!) I worked on business cards and Access database stuff. I met up with Jeaux after work and we had food at Vallarta's, and we forgot to listen to Night Vale, darn it. After he left I sulked over my loud neighbors and went to sleep.
              • Thursday I spent the day putting out small fires at work and eating donuts. A guy there brought some in and left them on MY DESK so what was I supposed to do? One of my Steven Universe theory posts got featured on that app again so more new friends. I drew comic stuff on the phone with Victor and documented more of my evil neighbors.
              • Friday I had to slap together PowerPoint stuff for my coworkers. In the afternoon I bought Night Vale tickets for the live shows in July, for me and five of my friends. YES. I got good seats too! After I got home, I worked on my comic and Victor came over. We hung out and he showed me a couple episodes of the show Bob's Burgers which I don't have much of an interest in but it made me laugh a few times. I was too tired to hang out with him long. (He slept over.)
                Reading progress:
                  New singing performances:

                  This week's performance was "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman.

                  New drawings: 

                  My pretty dang adorable doodle of Garnet and Steven sleeping.

                  Webcomic Negative One Issue 0621: "Two Bottles."

                  New videos:

                  My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Do It For Her" from Steven Universe. This is a duet where an old warrior teaches a young girl sword fighting and self-destructive behaviors. Fun! (Again it is designed for piano and would sound much better with piano, as do all Pearl songs. Each character has their own instrument, and hers is piano. Here's the original.)

                  New photos:

                  My new Funko Pops! came in. Six new figures to join my family.
                  Welcome to Lapis Lazuli, Peridot, Connie, Rose Quartz, and two different Lions.

                  Someone I was talking to thought there was no official merchandise of this character
                  so I had to show them that Funko Pint Size Heroes Jasper exists.

                  Someone brought donuts to the office and put them on MY DESK. What was I to do?

                  Green sprinkle donut, anyone?

                  Social Media counts:
                  YouTube subscribers: 5,310 for swankivy (4 new), 626 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 853 for swankivy (no change), 1,322 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 291 friends (no change) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,484 (lost 3). Instagram followers: 108 (lost 1).

                  Thursday, April 6, 2017

                  Wednesday Factoid: Cooling off or warming up?

                  Today's Wednesday Factoid (oops, happening on Thursday because I forgot) is: Which feels better? Cooling off after being too hot or warming up after being too cold?

                  Everybody who knows me knows how I'll answer this one!

                  I don't actually get that hot when it's hot. Sometimes, yeah, it's pretty awful here in Florida during the summer, but I very rarely feel desperately hot to the point that I'm craving an ice cube bath or something. On the other hand, being too cold is something I'm way too familiar with, and warming up with a heated blanket or in front of a fireplace or by drinking a nice hot drink is the most wonderful relief there is.

                  I loooove being cozy and I despise being cold. Just hate it hate it hate it. (And I get cold easily, too. Even in Florida, I have to take a jacket with me in the summer because it's likely to be too cold for me inside buildings.)


                  Tuesday, April 4, 2017

                  Art Theft

                  I guess I'll just whine.

                  I made a fan comic about two Steven Universe characters a while back and every time I share it in a new place I'm pleasantly surprised by how many people love it. I'm not an experienced fan artist or really an experienced artist at all, and it's a pretty new experience for me to have people sending me over-the-top compliments about something I've done, but I'm sure the biggest draw of the comics I did was the writing. I at least have confidence in my ability to do that, but I think the drawings came out unusually good for me, too, so I'm pretty proud of it.

                  I even learned swanky talk bubbles just for this project!
                  It was incredibly well-received on Tumblr, with thousands of notes and really flattering tags, people suggesting that it made them cry and whatnot. (I'm making a cute little collage of all my favorite tag compliments. I know it's silly, but it's also hard to look at the comments on Tumblr if they're left in tags, so I saved the images and put them together.) I made new friends from people private-messaging me to tell me how much they liked it, got hundreds of new followers, all that. 

                  Then I joined Steven Universe Amino, and while the people there were equally enthusiastic and similarly complimentary, several of them also commented that they'd seen this comic elsewhere. A couple, tellingly, said "I've seen this around and couldn't find who made it! IT'S SO COOL THAT I FINALLY KNOW WHO DID IT!"


                  So apparently the comic has been swiped and shared in at least four or five places without credit. On the one hand, I guess I've never made something that got popular enough and appreciated enough that people wanted to rip it off, so it's kinda exciting that that many people found it worthy. But? Yeah what the hell people not even a basic credit? I know it can be a pain to ask for permission from every artist whose work you want to share (and that's one of the reasons I love Tumblr's system: reblogs that put someone's work on your blog are easily traceable to the original poster, and no one thinks you're stealing it if you reblog it). But it's not like my cartoon blog is hard to find. And it obviously had to start with at least one someone deliberately saving the images off my blog and putting them somewhere else, knowingly, without saying who made them.

                  So it's been on Pinterest, it's been shared around groups on Facebook, and it has been made into a slideshow on YouTube at least twice by people who didn't make any attempt to find the original artist. (One of said YouTube accounts explicitly has a statement up about how they don't credit art because "it's too hard to find the original artist," okay dude, and their subscriber base of over 32,000 people is there for content that is simply recycled and shared without permission or credit. Someone's monetized YouTube is making money off art they're using without credit.) I messaged one of them and specifically asked my blog link to be included in the info, which isn't too much to ask considering I wasn't asked permission at all and it's nice of me to even let them keep it. But I didn't get an answer, so I submitted a copyright claim. Haven't heard anything back from that yet, but maybe I will. YouTube actually usually is pretty good with copyright claims.

                  Sadly, I hesitated to submit said claim partly because I feared backlash from the person's followers. It's a very popular account and if you get too many strikes you can get your account deleted. I can certainly imagine the account owner or any number of their followers turning on me furiously claiming that I should not make a big deal of this or that I should in fact be grateful for the exposure. Ah, exposure. That old chestnut, frequently thrown in the face of artists who expect basic respect for their work. I'm not even asking to be paid for its use, y'all. I'm asking to have my name and credit attached to it instead of specifically, deliberately removed from my intended place of display, to the point that people in the comments were asking who the creator is and no one can say. (Dude, a reverse image search isn't hard, and very few people out there have actually made a comic about this subject, so even a text search works.) This is not, like, an extremely old Internet post, or a post from a deleted blog that's hard to dig up the source on, or an image originally shared online for the first time by someone who doesn't know where it came from. It's easy to find me. They simply choose not to.

                  It makes me angry.

                  I've seen a few places where sites are offering PDF downloads of my book for free. Most of them are places that are questionable and potentially infested with viruses, and I don't know how accurate the downloads are. I don't bother with them. People are going to try to get stuff for free, and many of them do it partly because they cannot or would not have purchased the book anyway--I feel that very few book download pirates would suddenly become customers if they were forced to choose between getting it illegally for free and not having it at all. I'm not saying it's okay to not pay an author and their publisher for a product you want--yes, it's still stealing. But I think at least in that case, my name is still attached to it and the publisher's name is still on it. It isn't some orphaned piece of content that no one can trace. If someone steals a copy, they can still quote me, or recommend me to another person who might pay for the content, or list it on resources properly.

                  But when someone separates content from its creator, whether through carelessness or deliberately (as they do when people like this go as far as to actually erase artists' signatures), it's basically treating content people worked very hard on as if it belongs to everyone freely, to put anywhere, to do anything with. I heard my comic was put on YouTube with voice actors doing dubbed voices for the characters, reading my dialogue! I haven't found that anywhere, so maybe the person who told me they saw it was mistaken or maybe it's taken down or maybe its title is so obscure that I can't find the content (deliberately?), but people are making transformative works or including my work in their aggregate posts and not including any connection to the person who made it. Don't people want to know the artist? So they can follow them and see more of their work, or send them a nice message like so many of these people on Tumblr and Amino and DeviantArt have been doing? 

                  People like this content because it makes them feel something. I'm baffled at the idea that people want to enjoy content I made but think it's either unimportant or wrong for me to expect credit for it. And why do you care if you're not being paid for it either way? you might ask. Oh, come on now. I'm seeing comments like that levied at artists who are also being told "You should work for exposure." How is it "exposure" if the vast majority of the shares are "exposing" my work but not the fact that it is mine?

                  And perhaps it's also a little strange to be making such claims about fan works. They are clearly derivative content and I don't own the characters or their stories, so what is the point of being possessive of works derived from them if I don't have permission from the creators to make these works?

                  Actually, first of all this cartoon is specifically made by people who grew up with the Internet and fan communities; they're basically half a generation younger than I am, and their celebration of fan works when they were learning to be the artists they are has informed their perspective and has led them to be highly fan-work-supportive. They say as much in interviews, all the time, and encourage people to write their stories in the universe and create their own characters too. There's no belief amongst the creators that fan works infringe on the main work, I guess unless they are making unauthorized products that they're then selling on a large scale. (Even that is a gray area sometimes.)

                  But even if that wasn't the opinion of the creators, it's still an original work by an artist who deserves to be credited for doing it. Making the comic doesn't make me an owner of the characters or their stories. But the hours I spent and the care I put into coming up with the story are not lessened through acknowledging that they are not original characters. My name on it just says "I made this," not "I own everything associated with this."

                  And it just makes me really furious that they can love my content so much that they want to put it in their own spaces, but they don't think I deserve the basic respect of being credited.