Day Before Workshop!

All blog posts related to this workshop will have the category that you can search, “Altered Books Gender Identity Workshop”.

I am excited for tomorrow’s Altered Books and Gender Identity/Gender Diversity Workshop that I am fascilitating at the Expressive Arts Therapies Summit Conference from 2-5pm.

I will be posting materials for the workshop, used in the workshop, and for workshop participants and others to have that have not been fully covered or to continue any topics about altered books as art therapy and gender identity and diversity.

I am going to be “showing” more than telling, in terms of directives that are useful with clients using altered books and directives about gender identity and both.

 

 

The main focus of the workshop can be summed up as:

Let’s play with gender, and let’s acknowledge and celebrate the gender spectrum. Your altered book in progress is your personal gender story unfolding.

I will try to post photos and images to these posts when I have time and hope to post photos from the workshop itself, which I will be writing up to submit to the new Trans Bodies Trans Selves book…

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New Post: Feature, Altered Books

Today is my first day back from vacation. I kept up a lot of daily habits while on break, but did not keep up my writing daily at least 15 minutes habit, so I’m starting up again.

The last assignment in the WordPress Blogging Fundamentals class was about having a Feature topic.

 

  • First, think of the type of regular feature you can commit to — something you’ll publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • Next, start your new post by clicking the button below. This can be the first installment, or an announcement of what’s coming.
  • Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

 

My Feature for this assigment is going to be Altered Books, no surprise, which I hope to post at least weekly about in order to have it be helfpful for preparing for my looming upcoming workshop on Altered Books and Gender Identity.

Last time my Feature was Gender Identity, which should continue to be a Feature and at some point  the two, Altered Books and Gender Identity, will of course come together in some way.

Anyway, I haven’t really approached altered books in terms of writing about what makes me interested in them and topics connected to that. Things have to have a starting point.

Some ideas for separate topics for this Altered Books Feature include:

How did I get interested in Altered Books as an art form.

What was my first altered book that I made.

What led to my using altered books in sessions with clients and supervisees and even for peer supervision.

Some nuts and bolts about altered books, how to make them, the important stages of making them, the materials used.

How altered books involve a great way to use almost anything as an material from paper clips to coffee filters to coins as some odd examples.

What it means to finish an altered book vs. abandon one in some stage of the process, especially with clients in art therapy.

More specifics about the workshop and using altered books to explore gender identity.

I had started writing about the first topic, but I think introducing the Feature is best for this post and I will focus on beginnings in my next Feature post.

 

Writing for 15 Minutes:

I’ve tried different options each day. Some days in the journal just to get out thoughts, even shred the pages sometimes. Other times I write in my journal parts of my ideas for my Drawing/Writing project or a different essay format project.

This is the latest, putting some of the writing in the blog. Last week I thought of changing the subtitle to: “Pictures and Words”. Maybe that would be the title of the Drawings I’m doing, but “Drawings and Words” or “Lines and Words”.

The blog does feel like it joins pictures and words. “Words and Pictures” sounds off. It’s weird as the film “Words and Pictures” sounded fine and stuck in my mind. The film isn’t great but there are cool things going on in it. Like the idea of pitting students against each other in a crazy contest between words/writing and pictures/images. Why shouldn’t writing and making art be a kind of sport and why not have competitions like that. The students had to struggle with how to convince people that Words and writing, uses of words are most important or that images of all kinds, whether paintings, drawings or photos, or some mixture, are more vital than words. Which does the world need more?

It’s an absurd idea but to some aliens, people going nuts watching a bunch of humans dressed in a costume run back and forth across a field kicking a round object seems as absurd as a contest between pictures and words.

Cake or cupcakes? I say definitely cupcakes for lots of reasons. Coffee or tea? Tomato or tomato?Dogs or cats? Football or soccer?

Books or Films? Graphic novels and comics are so perfect in their genre combining both pictures and words, the actual written form on paper, as opposed to films with image and speaking. Obviously TV and film accomplish both, but at the same time, they are missing the thing of turning pages, of reading or reading/looking in the case of the graphic novel.

Right now I am reading the Lemony Snickett books, whole post could be on that, out loud with my 10 year old. We’ve seen the TV series, so it’s interesting reading the real books that spawned the film and TV. It’s great most of all because it’s a book about books, about reading and how reading is the escape from the troubles and unfortunate and fortunate events of life. It’s about words as well, and how we define them.

It appeals to me because books were my haven as a child. I put off learning to read until first grade, probably because I liked being read to. Once I started reading, I found a magic place that is impossible to describe and unlike TV or film or even audio books. Sitting alone with a book, you have a companion full of great stuff, words and pictures…

Book Chapter!

I haven’t posted since February 7. I’m going back to trying short posts more often. I get too long winded and don’t finish posts. Hoping it helps me post more often. Say more with less…

This is the book I have a chapter in. (It’s available on Amazon for range of high prices: 50$ -95$).

The book is edited by Anastacia Kurylo, a Professor in Communication Studies at St. Joseph’s College. She has written several books about communication and stereotypes. I highly recommend her blog, The Communicated Stereotype:

Anastacia Kurylo’s Blog

The book is mostly written by communication professors. Chapter 15, my chapter, is in the last 4th part of the book, called “Practical Tips for  Navigating Intergroup Status.” It’s called, ” Questions That Open up the Field of Impossible Things”.

My writing process, as always, was crazy and torturous, however, I am excited that it has yielded results and an edited finished product with footnotes. I’ve had my visual art in published books before, but this is the first time I’ve had my writing published. The joke is that it is in a book about communication; a lot of people find what I say to be incoherent and confusing! I’m still learning the English Language…

Everyday Inspiration Day 1: I write because…

You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.” – Mark Haddon

I did this assignment so fast, that I want to go back and really focus on the question and answers or clues. Maybe I was running away from the assignment; it’s the crucial question for me. That is what is going on right now and has always been there; hiding in the closet. I am fonly now admitting to myself most of all, and to a few others, that I am a writer, and have been one long ago, at least since that journal from high school.

It is easy to hide behind being a “visual artist”. People might not understand my being a writer because I’ve convinced them I am a painter. Pictures and words. I worked hard to go from words to pictures back age 20 and now I’m back to going to words.

Actually after losing that journal on the subway, the other day I found a bright red “cahier” not sure the English word, from a much younger me. There were lines in it for learning handwriting. The kind where you can fit lower case next to each other and more space above to make upper case. There were a few pieces of other peoples writing, some poems. Then the writer’s name. That was it. I was probably practicing handwriting, but I’m not sure what the thing with writing other’s writing. It seems like a clue. I liked other people’s writing. I liked writing their writing. I even today started with a quote.

I think I always was interested in the visual aspect of words and handwriting. It was a big deal for me at some adult age to consciously decide I didn’t like the way I print low case “a”s and wanted to make them look like how this font is; maybe it’s a writer’s a, the a on the typewriter. Recently I started writing t’s Ls ps and gs differently, from copying my daughter who talks about handwriting with me. She thinks my handwriting is messy. It is but I’m sort of changing it. It helps you slow down. I’ve always wanted to write the way my brother does. His capital A”s are so beautiful and impossible to copy. It came from his working at an architecture firm a lont time ago. I am fascinated with other people’s handwriting.

So in this case, the answer isn’t even I write because I like words; it’s because I like letters! Wow, maybe that is ultimately what it is. I’m not super into fonts, but I do like certain ones and think about that choice seriously.

So that might be one answer. I write because I love letters. I love all the books that start little toddlers or younger children reading. A is for apple; B is for barn, etc. My I write because is also very entwined with reading other writer’s. Looking at their writing, their sentences, their words, the letters.

I remember being excited to tell a friend that the word “urine”, is You Are I N E. It seemed so important at that moment 29 years ago. Sort of strange now. I admit it with a tinge of embarrassment, not about the word, but that it doesn’t seem to mean much. I guess it meant what it was: You are I. The “N E” is subtler but was part of it.

I have landed back to the beginning. I was thinking a lot about words, which I’ve been thinking about long time; I love looking up origins of words, especially fun to look up a name and surprise someone with the meaning. I see names as very important; of course they are. How they are chosen, who chose the name, what was the process. Ultimately I guess I wrote simply because I love letters; I love the alphabet. I love other language’s alphabet, but I am most familiar with English. When I was studying Japanese back in 4th grade, I remember the first thing we learned was how to read and write the 2 easy Japanese alphabets. First “Hiragana” and then “Katakana”. The first one is away to write Japanes words simply and read them. The second one is an alphabet just used for foreign country’s words. The real tough and important one is “Kanji”, it is impossible to learn all of it. Each character is so complicated and means a whole word. That is what I remember. It was fun doing the letters. Same thing with Russian in college. You get to do the alphabet. It’s cool in its own way, and learning a new alphabet of another language; that got me already into the concept of languages, and how other languages can be so different from English, starting with the alphabet. Alpha turns out to mean ox and beta turns out to mean house if you go back far enough.

The secret to my wrestling and struggling and process with “Why do I write?” may be simply in this ox an house

Day 2 of Writing Class: List

These are the choices:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I’ve Learned
  • Things I Wish
  • Things You’re Good At

I wrote a whole draft of a list of Things I’ve Learned, but I decided to do something different with the same topic.

Things I’ve Learned about My “Writer” Identity:

  1. I’ve been hiding in the writer “closet” for years, at least 30 years.
  2. I was struggling with this beast back in 1985 in my writer’s journal for an English Creative Writing class in high school.
  3. It’s always been, “What do I write about?”, “What do I have to say that people will want to read?”, having this urge to write but not having anything to write or write about, least of all fiction.
  4. I try in every way possible to destroy my thinking of myself as a writer or at least place obstacles in my pat. I left the 1985 writers journal on a subway two weeks ago. I was terribly upset and angry at myself. I had lost a big clue to who I was, not as a teenager, but as a budding writer back in 1985. When I first discovered that journal in the spring, I felt like I had been given a time capsule to this person that had been me, at least, what she wrote and how she thought about writing. I found it at this point where I had started writing a lot more again, so it seemed so just right that it fell into my lap.
  5. Did I lose that journal to tell myself that I can’t write or to make things hard for me, did I lose that writer in me, or that key into my mind as a 17 year old, or, did I lose that journal because I don’t need it and have already incorporated that writer inside me and need to focus on what I am writing now or my writing process? the Maybe both are true. The reason I was carelessly carrying around this old green covered Meade notebook was that I brought it to my therapy session that morning to show my therapist. This is a new therapist I am working with after several years hiatus from therapy. One main focus of my therapy is my struggle to be ok with being a writer and with my writing. It seemed even more of a message from the universe that the last event with that journal was for that very purpose. I texted my therapist about it right after I lost it. I seemed to need for him to know that he was the last person to see it and hear it.
  6. The more I write, the more I delete my writing and sometimes edit it but no longer just look at a first draft as finished. I used to write posts for this blog and fling them out there. Now even for the blog, I write many drafts I never post.
  7. I started writing something new in the spring that was a new kind of writing and a new sort of genre I tried out, some kind of  personal narrative. I did not know until then how much my work as an art therapist from the past especially was going into my writing. The other thing I discovered was writing and my daughter, writing about being her mother and writing with her. I already considered her a good writer back when she got excited by writing in second grade.
  8. The whole writing issue, beast or monster is intricately connected with my  GraphicNovel, started in 2000, which is a sort of memoir of the mind. This graphic novel has been torturing me for the past 16 years, most of which have been “writers block” years. It was started with the goal of publishing it; that goal has always been there despite my success in squashing it.
  9. My writing and my art have been coexisting with my Graphic Novel illness. I only realized it with writing recently when I saw that the more I write the more likely I am to get back to the graphic novel, and that whatever I’m writing somehow seems to be an act of avoiding working on the graphic novel, but sometimes seems to get me back to it. The art coexisting has been going on since the beginning. This last project involving cartoons, Bathroom Art Only, is the first series of work where my art directly connected to the graphic novel and sort of spilled into it and the art work threw me back into it after a long block. Then the door closed a few months until my writing flung me back at it. At other times, my art has seemed to focus on being as different and far away from the graphic novel as possible, as if it is trying to keep me away from it.
  10. The graphic novel has become a strange realization of my personal “Pictures and Words” struggle. More on that another time. End of list!

 

Writing Class, Day 1: I write because

I’m taking this class to get back into writing. I’m trying to write a graphic novel that I started in 2000 and still haven’t finished. I hope this class will inspire me to get back to doing it.

So I have nothing in particular to write about for this class; I want to return to the joy of writing for the pleasure of writing.

The assignment is simply to explain what makes you write. I am rereading the Miracle Worker (the play), so I looked to Helen Keller for her thoughts on writing and found this gem:

“Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.”

I found this very fascinating coming from someone who is visually impaired. As a visual person myself, I love this idea about patterns. It is close to the approach to writing of Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors.

 

I can’t see writing or art making in this way that Keller does, as I don’t have images or patterns in mind before or during the process of creating. I just start with something and see where it goes. Maybe after something comes out, I see something and try to play with the form in subsequent collages or drawings. Even with my struggle to do my graphic novel, I do it page by page, and have no idea who or what will appear until it’s happening.

This quote from Nabokov seems pretty accurate as a description of what I’m doing in my graphic novel:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are there, throw rocks at them.”

So, why do I write?

Words. Language. The first thing Annie Sullivan does to engage with Helen Keller is to spell words of things with her, to teach her language, that everything in her world has a name. As humans, even when we cannot see, hear or speak in words, we have some kind of innate hunger for language. We want to make something that symbolizes what is in our mind or environment. Language is an abstraction. Writing with words is a way to move into a world that exists only in our minds.

I like to write because the use of words leads to the imagination, where anything is possible. My favorite book ever written remains Alice in Wonderland. There is no reason for anything in the book. Alice is not on a quest to find herself or get home or anything else. She is curious and wants to explore and see what is down the rabbit hole and in the garden. Something is locked, so she has to find the key and get in to see what is there! It is very evident that Carroll successfully got her up on that tree and he and the others in the book are throwing metaphorical “rocks” at her!

For me this is the purest reason for writing, to see the familiar from a different point of view where everything becomes strange. Alice can’t use the language from her real world in Wonderland. Every time she recites something, it comes out strange and different.

That is my reason to write, to be surprised by what comes out and to see how the most ordinary word is not ordinary at all…

 

Pushing the Blogging Reset Button!

I started this post thinking I would “push the reset button” on getting organizized, however, I wrote myself into a different place. Re reading this post, I still want to push the reset button and try getting “back on tract”, at least for a little while.

I set some blogging intentions on Feb. 8 of this at the time, quite “new” year, 2016. I posted a “schedule”, which the WordPress Experts call a blogging calendar. It was:

Monday: the day to Re Blog at least one other blog post from another blogger

Tuesday: Post at least one sentence

Wednesday: Nothing Required

Thursday: Post at least one image

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: Read at least 5 Blog posts of others!

This calender/schedule did not turn out to be quite right for my blogging “style”. I would divide “individual” (not publications) bloggers up by style only to refer to how often and how regularly they post blogs as well as how they follow or don’t follow a schedule.

“Big Bloggers”: High frequency of posts on a daily basis

“Regular Bloggers”: You know what to expect on a given day, as they are able to follow a daily type of schedule like the one I tried above.

“Distracted Enthusiastic Bloggers”:

Here, I’m referring to myself. I don’t think being “distracted” is bad or good; for me it’s a neutral term. Most bloggers are very enthusiastic; I use the term here because how and when distracted bloggers post is often connected to feeling enthusiastic. So, I have great intentions to become a “regular blogger”. I post often sometimes. I get distracted and “forget” to post. I start series of blogs on a cool topic and forget to keep posting regularly on that topic. For me, even the attempt to post monthly from my art journal is challenging and I often do not follow through.

Another reason “distracted” is the partner of enthusiastic emphasizes how I get excited about any topic and then go full force. Then my excitement drops a bit, and I either get distracted by things that excite me outside of blogging, or I get distracted by my own interests in other topics.

This kind of blogger has some interesting challenges, challenges all bloggers face, but not to the degree and intensity of a distracted blogger.

Yet, am I putting my round peg into a square hole? Are these my challenges as a blogger, or are they other bloggers’ challenges I think I am supposed to have? Obviously I face this question constantly in the non virtual world.

Back on topic, here are the challenges I see:

  1. Post regularly.
  2. Post frequently.
  3. Stay on topic
  4. Follow my own rules and intentions

What makes these challenges so hard for some and much easier for others?

Maybe partly because the act of “Blogging” itself lends itself to doing things that way BUT also lends itself to not posting according to those challenges.

Blogging is the most “accepting” medium of writerly writing I’ve found. By writerly I mean by people who are interested in “Writing”, what to write, how to write it, when to write it, where the writing belongs in genre or medium, etc.

Blogging as I’ve said in other posts I don’t remember posting, is the nicest place to write. You can blog once in a while; you can post anything you want. You can post quickly and skip the step of worrying about your audience because other bloggers are kind people for the most part. You write for anyone to read your blog, and at the same time, you write for other bloggers because blogging involves community. I would even venture to say that because the blogging community is so warm, accepting and welcoming of all kinds of people and writers, it is a therapeutic “place” for “sensitive” writers like me.

Blogging also lends itself to multiple identities types of writers. I am a “multiple identity” writer/blogger. I post poems, opinions, ideas, images, non-fiction meanderings, journal style posts, reblogs with introductions. Many bloggers write and post in this manner; some are distracted, and some are regular, frequent, organized.

To post the way I think is best or to post my “default” distracted enthusiastic way – that is the question.

From this struggle as a blogger, I emerge with the dialectical answer, keep doing both! Of course by getting organized and frequent/regular at random times and other times posting with no set plan seems to indicate that I will remain a distracted enthusiastic blogger.

While life outside blogging remains hugely challenging due to this pattern I have, I know that with blogging, I can just be myself. The “blogosphere” answers with a “yes” of course. Be yourself, whatever that means, including: be the blogger who tries to blog in all ways possible, even the blogger who forgets for big chunks of time to post, but no matter what, your enthusiasm is rewarded by the blogging community!

What does not kill you makes you stronger? True or False

Did this one in way fewer sentences:

I have a bigger problem with this one as Nietzche said it, so for a long time I thought it was great; now I prefer, “Finishing requires a heart of steel.” from Delacroix, which could be applied to the first one, that what does not kill you does NOT make you stronger; what does not kill you, you obviously survive, and sometimes it requires a heart of steel, whatever that is, to keep on surviving. Well no actually. What does not kill you does not shape who you are; what does not kill you does not kill you, meaning you survived and now are faced with PTSD and healing from it, as being almost killed, whether emotionally or physically or mentally or all of them, is a traumatic event. Because it was what it was and you now are still you but what it was almost killed you which is what it is and so, how do you go on anyway, feeling weaker in body, mind and spirit…