Daily Thoughts 84: Dare to (Allow Others to) Be Bad

Author's SelfieI’ve posted and/or commented on the catchphrase used by Dean Wesley Smith and Nina Kiriki Hoffman “Dare to Be Bad.” I recommend you go and read Dean’s post about it, I pull it out every so often. I think it’s a terrific lesson for any creative person to learn to have the courage to share their work. Get up off your ass and sing. Paint in public. Share your stories. Give it your best even if you fall on your face. Then do it again. Dean’s post is actually very encouraging. I want to touch on another aspect, one that I see in libraries.

Allowing Others to Be Bad

Apparently, writers should condense perfectly formed from a cloud of cigarette and alcohol vapors in front of a typewriter and pound out a soul-wrenching masterpiece. And if you can’t write that masterpiece why do you even try? Dean talks about having the courage to write and then put your work in the mail and he’s right that there are no real consequences.

Except the judgment exists. Someone tells you that they read a book, saw a movie, listened to an album, and you ask, “Was it good?”

We all do this. “You saw the Lego Batman Movie? Did you like it?”

(No, I haven’t seen it yet).

Librarians do this too, selecting materials based on the evidence available. That may be a review (by a professional reviewer). Awards. The author’s past track record and reputation. The design of the item. Community interest in the item.

That doesn’t mean that there is a universe ruler against which all things may be measured. I may love a book that the author thinks is one of their least successful books. Someone else may agree with the author. I loved the new Ghostbusters movie and would love to see the cast do another. Do you agree?

Unfortunately, this personal judgment of whether something is good or bad interferes with our creative processes. If you’re overly judgmental about other people’s creative work, it is going to be that much harder to risk judgment of your own work unless you have an unassailable ego. Or can just let it go.

I frankly don’t understand people writing savage reviews of another person’s work. It didn’t work for you? Fine. Forget about it and move on. Even if the person writing it didn’t have any skill whatsoever, consider what it took to create that work. The act of creation instructs and teaches. It “promotes social, emotional, and cognitive development.” (Love, Burns, Bruell, 2007). It starts as children, but at any age the act of writing is positive.

The library can play a role in this process by creating opportunities for people to create, connect, and engage with local content. One way we do this now is through BiblioBoard and SELF-e. BiblioBoard provides stories written by people in your community in instantly available, no waiting, no late fees, e-books. Through SELF-e, local creators submit e-books which are added to the local BiblioBoard collection and considered for the national curated collection.

Image of Timberland Author titles

BiblioBoard provides that balance between encouraging and supporting local content creation, while also highlighting notable titles. Regardless of whether or not a title works for a particular reader, it may work for someone else. And the effort is successful simply because writers share their work. The fact that someone wrote something is meaningful, it matters. You have the choice to pick up a book and start reading, and you have the choice to put it down. Encouraging others (giving them courage) is a positive attitude to take. We do it often (hopefully) with children as they learn. No one expects the kid telling a story to be as masterful as Stephen King.

Encouraging others (giving them courage) is a positive attitude to take. We do it often (hopefully) with children as they learn. No one expects the kid telling a story to be as masterful as Stephen King. I’d love to reach that skill level with my craft. I’m still learning. Encourage others to be daring. Maybe by doing so you’ll be encouraged as well, with whatever you want to try.

Daily Sketch Challenge

Sketch for daily challengeAgain, talking about daring to be bad, this morning I decided to practice some fundamentals, simple shapes, and shading.

I like this ‘page-a-day’ sort of format for the sketch. The default template I created is 800×800 pixels. The small space gives me a focus that I like. I’m less tempted to try and do more with it than I can in the time available. I think keeping the sessions short also helps, though I do plan to gradually increase the time when possible, but I want to keep these fairly short. I probably won’t go over 10 minutes with the sketch challenge. If I want to work on something longer it will be independent of the challenge.

I could do all of this and not share any of it. I certainly don’t have to record it and put it up on YouTube. But I also see the creative process as something that should be shared.

Create. Share. Repeat.

Harder than it looks!

Schoolism Drawing Fundamentals Assignment 1 Giraffe

This morning I started my first class with Schoolism.comDrawing Fundamentals with Thomas Fluharty.

I had looked at taking the Schoolism courses in the past, which were offered in two versions: self-taught and with video feedback. For the past several years I’ve attended many writing workshops and business workshops, but I hadn’t yet done any art workshops. Right as I was considering the idea of doing a Schoolism course they launched their Kickstarter campaign for the new subscription model.


To become the best, you must learn from the best. We’ve given you access to the top artists, now we want to make it affordable for all.

The subscription plan changed the game for me. For as low as $10/month I could take the various self-taught courses offered by Schoolism and learn from great artists in the field. The way the campaign worked you pledged for a period of time, and a particular start date. The different start dates were to give the folks at Schoolism time to get everyone set up and upgrade the site to handle subscriptions as well as other improvements.

I took a package that gave me the earliest start date possible — July, and then later upgraded to a June start when more packages were offered. By pledging at the higher level I locked in that $10/month rate for the next two years. The various stretch goals brought down the monthly rate that will be offered in the future after they get the Kickstarter backers up and started. Since they reached the $500K goal future subscriptions will be as low as $12/month.

Right now switching courses costs $1 because it takes some manual effort on the part of the folks at Schoolism, but in the future that will all be automated and you’ll be able to switch courses easily.

First Class — Drawing Fundamentals

Subscribers get to pick whichever course they like. I went with the Drawing Fundamentals course because I want to work on foundations first. I plan to spend some time on the course. I’m not doing the assignments once and moving on, I plan to practice several times using different subjects.

The structure of the course is aimed at 5 weeks, each week a different focus. Although this is the self-taught class you do have access to past video feedback from students that have taken the course with feedback. That gives you an opportunity to see what others have done and what feedback was given, even though you don’t get feedback on your specific assignments. It’s still a great chance to learn from others. This first lesson has 95 feedback videos available.

My first attempt is above, created in Corel Painter 2015, using an Wacom Intuos 4, just done with the pencil.

Next Steps

Over the next couple months, before I begin my MLIS classes through San Jose, I plan to work on my Schoolism course. I might just spend the time working on the Drawing Fundamentals course. I don’t want to rush through the courses. I also plan to continue to write, publish, and study. And work full-time at the library. I’ll post progress updates as I go and hopefully will see progress in my drawing skills.

Daily Sketch #46 Self Portrait pt. 3, and Careers

2015-02-13 Daily

Worked on the self-portrait a bit more this morning. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately working on things other than writing and painting. Taxes, for one. I need to get that done so that I can finish my financial aide application. Yep, I’m heading back to school for another graduate degree (depending on getting accepted, getting approved for the loan I’ll need, etc.). Why now?

I’m always striving to learn. When it comes to the day job, my career in libraries, it’s not enough to learn. At some point you also need to have a Master of Information and Library Science degree. Or Master of Library Science degree. I’ve done well with my career for over twenty years but I have just as many years ahead of me — before retirement — as I’ve already worked. I’m going to want options and the MLIS degree will give me that opportunity. I’ve got to earn the degree first.

Nothing is guaranteed. Jobs end and self-employed writers have career crashes as well. No one is immune. I plan to do well in all of my careers. That’s the plan. I’ve put a huge focus on my writing and art for a long time and I have no intentions on giving up working at my goals in those areas. I am shifting my focus right now to pursue this degree. It will impact how much writing and art I’m able to do. It already has since I made the decision. Titles I thought I’d have out haven’t been released because I’ve been focusing on other things. That’s not to say I haven’t worked on them, it’s just going to take longer than originally planned.

The next couple years will be fun!

Daily Sketch #41 Past Dark Work pt. 3


I worked more today on the Past Dark cover illustration. There’s a lot left to be done on this one (not showing the text at the moment). Tomorrow morning each of my series will have a countdown deal for the first book in the series. That includes:

I’d like to get Past Dark out soon, although much of my time is currently focused on Divine Artist, my new paranormal erotica series.