B6453 Sew Along: Sewing the Skirt, View A

2017-Mar-24, Friday 12:30 pm
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Time to sew this skirt! This is always satisfying because it really starts to look like a dress.

For these steps, please follow along closely on the pattern instruction guide sheet. It can be difficult to photograph these large pieces, and I often find it easier to look at the illustrations.

First, if you're serging your edges, I recommend doing that to the pockets and skirt pieces before they are sewn. It's very tricky to serge the pockets after they're attached because of curves and corners.

Serge your skirt pieces on the side seams only. Do not remove any fabric with the serger's blade, just finish the edges.

Serge around all sides of all four pockets. 

Next, stabilize the skirt backs above the zipper circle mark. I use 1-1/4" fusible strips for this.

Stitch the back skirt pieces together, right sides together, at the center back seam, ending at the zipper circle mark.

Press this seam open. 

Now it's time to attach the pockets. You have four pocket pieces. With right sides together, pin the pockets to each skirt side seam, on the front and back skirt. There is a notch to help you match these pieces. Stitch the pockets to the skirt pieces using a 1/4" seam allowance. 

Press the pockets so they're flipped away from the skirt. The seam allowances should be facing the pockets.

Next, sew the skirt front to the skirt back using your regular 5/8" seam allowance, right sides together. Pivot at the circles above at the top and bottom of the pockets, stitching around the outside of the pockets.

Clip into the back seam allowances only at the top and bottom of the pockets, up to the circle marks where you pivoted.

Press the side seams of the skirt open and press the pockets to the front of the skirt. (Those clips you made allow you to press the pockets to the front while pressing side seam allowances open.)

Time to gather the skirt! There are lots of different ways to make gathers (in this video skirt tutorial I show you how to use dental floss!) but here I'm using the traditional method of doing two lines of basting stitches. The first line is at 1/2" seam allowances, and the second line is at 1/4". This method works well for thin and soft fabrics like this sateen. Start your basting stitches at the small circles. 

Pull up both bobbin threads to create gathers. Be patient and do not pull against any resistance, as you will break your threads, and we all know how frustrating that is! Create enough gathers so that the skirt is roughly the size of your bodice waist. It's a lot of gathers, which gives the skirt its extra full look.

With right sides together, pin the skirt to the bodice. Start by matching your side seams, and adjust the gathers from there. Make sure that your side seams stay pressed open, your princess seams pressed toward center front, and your back darts pressed toward center back. (It's easy for things to get flipped around at this stage.)

Stitch the skirt to the bodice, going slowly and keeping the gathers as straight as possible so they don't bunch up under the presser foot. You can stitch with the gathers on top or the bottom; people have strong preferences for each so just see which works best for you!

After you stitch, examine your gathers closely to see if there are weird bunches anywhere. I usually have to take out at least one spot and neaten up the gathers!

Finally, press your seam toward the bodice and finish the seam allowances as one. I have a special way of doing this to reduce bulk. I trim the gathered seam allowance down to about 1/4", holding my scissors at an angle toward me. This trims the seam allowance so that it's beveled slightly. Then trim the bodice seam allowance to 3/8". Next, run both seams together through the serger, without catching any fabric in the blade. The seam allowances are serged, but also graded! (You could also use a wide zigzag on your sewing machine in place of the serger.)

Another method I have used successfully on this waistline is to stitch a grosgrain or petersham ribbon to the waistline (I prefer cotton or rayon ribbon if possible since poly can feel uncomfortable so close to the body.) Stitch it through both seam allowances, as close to your waistline seam stitching as possible. Fold down the ribbon and grade the seam allowances as described above. Press the ribbon up and tack it in place at the side seams. It will both cover your waistline seam and keep your waistline from stretching! It's a great option if your fabric has stretch, to keep the dress from getting bigger over time.

 Here's how it looks when you fold down the ribbon:

That's it for this week! I'll be back next with with instructions for the pencil skirt, and then the zipper!

Update on the Dreamhack server

2017-Mar-24, Friday 03:29 am
dw_dev: The word "develop" using the Swirly D logo.  (Default)
[personal profile] sophie posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
Hi all,

As you may know, about 2-3 weeks ago the Dreamhack server died. Since then, [staff profile] mark and I have been working on getting its replacement going, and updating a few things.

It should be ready to go in a few days, and I wanted to make a few notes for when it comes back up:
  • Firstly and most importantly, you'll need to re-apply for a Dreamhack if you want one, and you'll be set up as if you were a new user. Any changes that you pushed to GitHub will be available, but any other data you may have had will be gone - apologies for that.

  • I do still have email addresses for everybody who had an account when the server went down, and I'll send out a one-time email to everybody when the server is up to point them to this post. After that, the only people who will receive emails about Dreamhacks will be those who have applied for one.

  • The address you need to use to log into the server via SSH will be different from the Web address domain. The email you receive when applying for a Dreamhack will state this clearly.

  • The new server will have an increased quota. The earlier quota of 500MiB was enough at first, but since then the space taken by a base install of Dreamwidth has risen to 270MiB. In light of this, I've raised the quota to 750MiB.

  • You won't need to do a one-off compilation of the stylesheets and JavaScript any more unless you make changes to them - the new-user script will automatically do that for you, and your Dreamhack will have working CSS out of the box.

  • Each user will automatically get a test database called "test_dreamhack_<user>", accessible using the same database user and password as the main database. You'll still need to configure it properly yourself for now, but the installer will at least copy the required files to $LJHOME/ext/local/t for you to configure. Later on I'm hoping that it'll be possible to have it configured automatically.

  • The official email address to contact me has changed - you should now use my Dreamwidth email address (sophie at dreamwidth dot org). Automated emails will come from this address, so if you had the previous email whitelisted you may want to whitelist this new one instead.
Thanks for your patience with this - there's a lot that's been going on, but the new server should be ready to go very soon! Watch this space. :)

If you have any questions, please leave a comment! I'll answer any questions you might have.

Background reading for poeting

2017-Mar-21, Tuesday 08:56 pm
[syndicated profile] bookmaniac_feed

Posted by Liz Henry

Leisurely reading in progress of Rilke’s book about Rodin, to fill my mind with good context for some poems I’m writing about Alice Sheppard and Laurel Lawson’s dance piece, Descent from Beauty. Also in the works: Ovid (for Andromeda’s story), the Homeric Hymns to Aphrodite, and a visit to Stanford’s Rodin sculpture garden. I haven’t been there for years and always seem to be sick when the peninsula poets go at midsummer for a reading at the Gates of Hell in that garden.

I have much more to say about the version that I saw of this performance (work in progress seen earlier this year in San Francisco)!

Rilke’s glorious bullshit on Rodin’s use of gesture,

Movement has cast off sleep and is gathering force; right on the top, on th eapex of the brain where there is solitude, it prepares for its task, the task of centuries, limitless and without end. And in the right foot the first step waits.

One might describe this movement by saying that it rests enclosed in a tight bud. Let thought be set on fire, let the will be swept by tempest, and it will open.

This reminds me of two things immediately, one, my poem “The Envoy” about the envoy taking her first step from the spaceship (vaguely rewriting/regendering Genly Ai). Trying to capture the infinities in the first step’s motion as I think about the motion of walking, which I’m very familiar with from years of on and off bouts of rehab where you re-learn to do your gait correctly after limping, the step for mankind on the Moon, and the step that is still to come (for those of us who are not quite included in “mankind”).

The second thing is the irreverent “science fiction tai chi/qi gong” moves I was making up the other night as I explained to Danny how much nicer the senior tai chi class is when the moves have some imaginative language to go with them. Blue dragon, green dragon, picking a pepper, eat the pepper, oh it’s hot, dragon shakes its tail. I don’t have any clue whether this is something people make up on the spot or whether it is an age old tradition but in the privacy of one’s bedroom it is fun to open the pod bay doors, launch, extend your solar panels and turn them to the sun, enter geosynchronous orbit, the spice must flow, and so on. I recommend this practice for your amusement.

Ramp wheelchair dance

Related posts:

B6453 Sew-Along: Sewing the Straps

2017-Mar-21, Tuesday 04:01 pm
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Before we start, a note: If you haven't already, I'd recommend stay stitching the neckline and armholes now that all your bodice pieces are assembled. Do a line of stitching at a 1/2" seam allowance all around, to stabilize the curves around your neckline. It's best to do this directionally, starting at the top of the curve, and always ending your stitching at the lowest point of a curve. This keeps your pieces from stretching from being stitched in opposing directions.

Okay, time for your straps. Remember how we taped the two strap pieces together? So you'll just have two long strips for both the front strap and the back loop.

Now I'm going to show you a different way to sew the straps rather than stitching and turning them, as in the pattern directions. I'm going to turn in the straps and edgestitch, which means no turning is involved. Yay!

Fold each strip in half lengthwise and press a crease.

Then turn in each side to meet the crease. Use the tip of your iron along the very edge of the fold so you don't press out your first crease.

Now fold in half along the original lengthwise crease.

Edgestitch along the open side. I use my #10 Edgestitch Foot for this.

Finished straps, no turning involved.

Okay, take your pattern piece and chop off the ends where you joined the two pattern pieces.

Now get rid of one of those pieces; you only need one! 

Now cut that remaining piece in half to get two small pieces. These are your back strap loops. 

Thread a ring onto each small loop, like so:
Fold in half and pin to your dress bodice back, centering over your circle marks (which I mark with an X for accuracy). I position them with the edge stitching on the outer (shoulder edge of each) so it looks symmetrical.

Baste the strap onto the dress.

Okay, the next part required a video to explain. It's a but tricky to see (and to do on camera) but I hope it makes sense.

Attach that little bit to the strap using a zipper foot so you can stitch close to the slider.

Finally, attach the end of the front strap to the front bodice just like you did for the back bodice, centering over the mark, with the strap facing down.

There you have it: fully adjustable straps! 

Announcing the Shim review process

2017-Mar-21, Tuesday 01:29 pm
[personal profile] mjg59
Shim has been hugely successful, to the point of being used by the majority of significant Linux distributions and many other third party products (even, apparently, Solaris). The aim was to ensure that it would remain possible to install free operating systems on UEFI Secure Boot platforms while still allowing machine owners to replace their bootloaders and kernels, and it's achieved this goal.

However, a legitimate criticism has been that there's very little transparency in Microsoft's signing process. Some people have waited for significant periods of time before being receiving a response. A large part of this is simply that demand has been greater than expected, and Microsoft aren't in the best position to review code that they didn't write in the first place.

To that end, we're adopting a new model. A mailing list has been created at shim-review@lists.freedesktop.org, and members of this list will review submissions and provide a recommendation to Microsoft on whether these should be signed or not. The current set of expectations around binaries to be signed documented here and the current process here - it is expected that this will evolve slightly as we get used to the process, and we'll provide a more formal set of documentation once things have settled down.

This is a new initiative and one that will probably take a little while to get working smoothly, but we hope it'll make it much easier to get signed releases of Shim out without compromising security in the process.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

Been a while since I read this one. Weirdly, i think it might be the Vorkosigan Saga book I've read the rest times.

Anyhow. It is shock fill of young Miles, in his second outing, i believe. Pretty much what you would expect from one of these books. It might be a good introductory point, come to think about it. All in all, a most pleasant read.

Buying a Utah teapot

2017-Mar-20, Monday 01:38 pm
[personal profile] mjg59
The Utah teapot was one of the early 3D reference objects. It's canonically a Melitta but hasn't been part of their range in a long time, so I'd been watching Ebay in the hope of one turning up. Until last week, when I discovered that a company called Friesland had apparently bought a chunk of Melitta's range some years ago and sell the original teapot[1]. I've just ordered one, and am utterly unreasonably excited about this.

[1] They have them in 0.35, 0.85 and 1.4 litre sizes. I believe (based on the measurements here) that the 1.4 litre one matches the Utah teapot.


2017-Mar-17, Friday 02:41 pm
[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Thanks to everyone who let us know that Photobucket images were not loading properly on some pages. The problem seemed to be mostly limited to HTTPS requests; Dreamwidth maintains a list of known high-traffic image sites that support HTTPS, so that our secure content proxy service doesn't cache them unnecessarily. Unfortunately Photobucket seems to have recently changed their site configuration such that HTTPS requests aren't being served as expected, and we've now taken it out of our list of "proxy-exempt" sites.

If you continue to have issues, make sure you're not using HTTPS Photobucket links. It's a bit counterintuitive, but if you use HTTP instead, it will be automatically transformed on our end to an HTTPS link that uses p.dreamwidth.org.

Hope that clears everything up for now! Let us know if it doesn't...

B6453 Sew Along: Steps 1-4

2017-Mar-17, Friday 01:02 pm
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Time to sew! Today we're doing steps 1-4 on the pattern instruction sheet. My next post will be on Tuesday, so you'll have the weekend to catch up!

Start with your bodice center front. I'm sewing two at once! The small rose print will be View A, and the tropical will be View B.

Staystitch between the princess seam notches on both sides of the bodice center front. Staystitching is a line of regular straight stitching that only goes through one layer of fabric. It should be just inside your 5/8" seam allowance line. I find a spot just between the 1/2" and 5/8" lines on my machine as my guide. No need to back stitch.

Make clips between the notches, using just the point of your scissors, cutting as close as you can to your staystitching. The clips should be about 1/2" apart from each other. These will allow you to sew this piece to the curve of the side front princess seam.

Now we're going to sew the princess seams.

Pin the center front to the side front, with right sides together, matching your notches. With the center front piece on top, spread the clips so that the curves of the two pieces match. Pin and stitch the two pieces together. Repeat on the other princess seam.

Press the princess seams toward the center front, holding each side of the seam taut.You can use a tailor's ham to help you.

Now finish your princess seams as one, trimming them to about 3/8". I'm using my serger for this step, but you could use pinking shears or a zigzag stitch instead.

Next, we're going to sew the darts on the bodice back.

Fold the dart in half, positioning it like this (i.e. how you will put it into the machine, with the point closest to you and the fold on the right):

Start by placing a pin horizontally at the dart's point. This will tell you where to stop sewing.

Next, pin vertically up the legs of the dart, making sure that the dart lines are exactly on top of each other as you're pinning.

Sew up the leg of the dart. Back stitch at the beginning. Remove your pins as you go!

When you get to the point, sew the last couple stitches right on the fold of the fabric.

Do not backstitch, but leave tails that are at least a couple inches.

Tie the tails into a double knot and trim close.

Press the darts toward the center back, using a tailors ham if you have one.

Side seams! Place the front and back right sides together at the side seams, matching notches. Pin and stitch.

Press the side seams open.

Finish the seam allowances with the method of your choice.

Now's a good time to try on your bodice if you want to double check the fit!

Finally, I always recommend stabilizing your zipper openings. I use this fusible tape, but you can also easily cut 1" strips of fusible interfacing for this purpose.

If serging, you can finish you back bodice openings now.

You have a partially assembled bodice! Next Tuesday: straps!

...and the winner of the tote kit is....

2017-Mar-17, Friday 10:47 am
[syndicated profile] u_handblog_feed

Posted by Lisa

Thank you to everyone who entered the naming contest to name the tote pattern.  There were over 350 entries to choose from - which gave much enjoyment and humour in the office, always welcome, thank you :) 


The winning name is: ‘U-Totia' and it was suggested by Rosseroo.

Congratulations Rosseroo; please step forward and contact us to claim your prize! 

2017 - #28, "Revenger", Alastair Reynolds

2017-Mar-16, Thursday 07:23 pm
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is an odd one. Eminently readable, but odd. Definitely "far future", realistic (at least of sorts) space travel, aliens (mostly, but not completely, off-stage) and Deep History.

I quite enjoyed it on a first read-through. I wouldn't mind reading more in the same setting. But I can't really say what it reminds me of. Possibly Terminal World, maybe.

2017 - #27, "Project Elfhome", Wen Spencer

2017-Mar-16, Thursday 07:20 pm
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is another in Spencer's Elfhome (or possibly Tinker) series. It's basically a collection of character sketches, shorts, a novella or two and a couple of what-ifs, mostly spanning the time passed in the first three volumes of the series, but with a few "well into the past" segments.

definitely readable, if you've liked previous works in the series. Probably does not stand alone, at all.

B6453 Sew Along: Cutting!

2017-Mar-16, Thursday 01:03 pm
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Woo hoo, time to get cutting! I know a lot of sewers hate the cutting process, but it just means you're one step closer to sewing. So hurrah!

Okay, actually. A few small things before you cut.

First, if you made any adjustments to your neckline, bust, or armhole, you need to make the same adjustments to your facing patterns. I raised my armhole 3/4", so I did the same on facings. I took the same amount off the bottom of the facing so it remains the same width.

I moved the notches up since they would have been cut off. Repeat on the back.

I also had to do a slight slash and spread (not shown) on the front facing like I did on the bodice front for my FBA. So if you did an FBA or SBA, keep that in mind!

Also, if you are making View B and you made any bodice adjustments (like taking in or letting out seams), you will need to do the same adjustments to your skirt. If you've lost track of those changes (so easy to do!), you can also just pin closed your darts, draw in your seam allowances, and then "walk" the pattern pieces together to make sure they still match.

Draw in seamlines, close darts

Compare the pattern pieces by walking them together as they would be sewn
Next, one little pattern change that I highly recommend: tape your strap pieces together. Just butt the edges together and tape on the front and back.

This will make sewing the straps much easier as you can sew them and then trim off the smaller piece. Not necessary but a big help, in my opinion.

Okay, let's cut! I'm going to focus on the cutting for View A as it needs more explaining. 

I recommend cutting in stages, starting with your skirt pieces. They are BIG and need to be cut on the crosswise grain. Do we all understand what this means? Normally we cut on the lengthwise grain by making a fold that runs horizontally down the length of your yardage, and the selvages go on top of each other like so:

Instead, we're going to make a fold that runs vertically from selvage to selvage. So you have a big width of fabric with selvages on top of each other at the top and bottom, like so:

Make sense?

With your fabric folding on the crosswise grain, lay out your skirt pattern pieces along one selvage. The front is cut on the fold and the back is not. After you cut out your skirt pieces, you will have a long skinny bit left on one selvage that looks like this:

Cut the bodice center front by making a narrowly folded piece from the leftover yardage.

Then double up the rest of the skinny piece and cut the rest of the pattern pieces: pockets (cut twice to get a total of four pockets), bodice back, bodice side front, straps, and back facing. The fold the remaining and cut the front facing on a fold.

Next, cut your interfacing for the front and back facings. I'm using this Palmer/Pletsch sheer interfacing that Pati Palmer herself gave me when I visited her in Portland! She told me it's a great match for cottons.

Go over all your pieces are transfer any notches by snipping into the point of the notch.

Also transfer your circles and the back dart. I do this using wax tracing paper and a spiky tracing wheel. Make a sandwich by putting one layer of tracing paper face up under your bottom layer of fabric, like so:

Then put the other side of the tracing paper wax-side down on top of the other layer of fabric.

 Lastly put the pattern on top of all the layers.
I mark an X through my circles.

Now that you've cut out your pattern and marked it, it's time to sew! I'll be back tomorrow with our first sewing post.

B6453 Sew Along: Making a Bodice Muslin

2017-Mar-15, Wednesday 07:58 am
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Okay, I vowed to keep the muslins and fitting stuff to a minimum but I feel I really want to touch on this. It seems a lot of ladies in the Facebook Group are new-ish dressmakers, which I love! And since there are some things you can do to make muslin-making easier, here's a look into my process.

The most important things I do are to always put a zipper into my muslins, and to turn in the seam allowances at the neckline and waistline so I can see where the actual seamlines fall.

Note: you can do all of the stitching in the following steps with a long basting stitch (4-5mm). This is faster to sew and easier to remove if necessary. 

Size note: I cut a size 12 based on the finished measurements on the pattern tissue. The size chart would have put me in at least a size 14, which would have been too big. This is why using the finished garment measurements are so important! (I'm fitting mine from scratch, to go through the process with you.)

First, I cut the three bodice pieces (front, side front, and back) in the muslin. Those are the only pieces you need, no straps or interfacing. I only needed a half yard of muslin to make the bodice!

Second, sew the princess seams as you would normally. I always staystitch and then clip the bodice center front between the notches.

This makes it easier to pin the side front to the center front along the curved princess seams. Stitch the princess seams. Finger-press the seams up. I don't worry about pressing them at this point.

Next, sew the back darts from the edge of the fabric to the tip. This is how I pin my darts for sewing:

Sew the bodice front to the bodice back at the side seams.

Next, stay stitch around the neckline and the waistline at 5/8". Clip into the seam allowances up to the stay stitching around any curved areas.

Press the seam allowances in along your stay stitching.

Baste up the center back seam and press open.

Using the same length zipper that you would use for your dress (14") place the zipper face down and scotch tape it in place. Yep, we're going fast and easy here. Just make sure your zipper teeth are exactly centered over the seam.

On the right side, use a zipper foot to stitch about 1/4" to either side of the seam. Straight stitching doesn't get extra points here. You'll have excess zipper hanging below the waistline seam.

Open up the basted center back seam and remove any tape that's in the way of you opening up the zipper.

(Tip: you can rip out the zipper and use it again for your next muslin!)

Pin 3/8" ribbon in place of the straps. A 14" length of ribbon was more than enough for each strap.

Zip yourself into your muslin! You should always wear the undergarments that you plan to wear while wearing the dress. You'll have a fancy zipper tail.

If you're overwhelmed looking at your bodice, check out the Fitting Order Sheet provided by Palmer/Pletsch.

You can see mine is low around the armholes, has tightness throughout the bust, excess around the armhole princess seam, and is slightly loose throughout the waist.

I pinched out some excess at the side seams and the princess seam at the armhole.

I also made a very small FBA (1/2" per side) following the Palmer/Pletsch directions I posted earlier this week. I also raised the armhole 3/4" at the underarm to conceal my favorite bra. All of these changes resulted in a much better fitting bodice!

Once you've made your muslin, please post to the Facebook Group if you have questions about what to change.

Next up: cutting and sewing!

B6453 Sew Along: How to Do an FBA

2017-Mar-13, Monday 12:27 pm
[syndicated profile] gertiessewingblog_feed

Posted by Gertie

Hi ladies, a lot of you have been asking about how to do an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) on this dress. I have teamed up with Palmer/Pletsch in order to provide you with some information. First, check out their Fitting Order information. It can often be confusing figuring out where to start with fit adjustments, especially when there are several things that need changing.

Next! Look at the Princess Bust Alterations document, specifically the information on an armhole princess adjustment. The method that Palmer Pletsch uses is tissue fitting, and there is step-by-step info on how to do this. Tissue fitting will tell you how much you need to add at the bust, and then you can make a muslin to test your fit.

Please post your muslin and fit pictures to the Facebook Group! It's been a great resource for questions of all kinds.

A huge thanks to Palmer Pletsch for allowing me to reprint this information on bust adjustments!

Fit documents: Copyright © 2016 by Palmer/Pletsch Incorporated (May be reproduced for educational purposes with credit). Information from Fit For Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto. palmerpletsch.com 

Against "do you want fries with that?"

2017-Mar-11, Saturday 12:30 pm
tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
Compiling what I wrote in an impromptu Twitter thread:

I saw a tweet that said: "English major = 'Want fries with that?' 🍟. Pick something that will give you enough money to write what you want." (In the interest of discretion, I won't say who wrote this, but you can find out if you go to the thread.)

This is bullshit. I have a computer science degree and thus all the money I want and no emotional energy left after work for writing. If I'd majored in English (like 13-year-old me wanted) I wouldn't have gone down the path of lots of money and spiritual/artistic vacuity. (Maybe more like 10-year-old me wanted; 13-year-old me wanted to be an editorial cartoonist and major in sociology or journalism in order to get there. 10-year-old me maybe had the best plan.)

I was in debt -- student, medical, or both, at various times -- from September 1997 to January 2017. Now that I'm out of it, I can choose what to do next, so the point here isn't "cry for me". It is: Please do not pretend choosing an economically useful major while telling yourself you can do your important work "in your free time" (imagine all the finger air quotes there) doesn't have a serious, permanent cost. It does.

You can never get back the time you spent doing stuff you don't care about for people who despise you. You need money to live, but time is the most precious resource you have because when you lose money, you can get it back; when you lose time, you can never get it back.

Me, I didn't even choose computer science for the money (that came later). I thought, at the time, that I'd enjoy it more than I enjoyed writing or playing music. (I didn't enjoy playing music at all at the time, because I spent most of the first 16 years of my life playing classical music not because I wanted to, but because I had a parent who was foisting "what I didn't get to do when I was younger" onto me. I did get over that, but it took me about another 20 years. That's another story.)

Anyway, once you get into industry, you realize the real day-to-day work isn't much fun, or that there are fun things about it but not the ones you anticipated, and a whole lot of soul-sucking baggage that's the price of both the fun and the money, but by then the money has you trapped.

So if somebody had said all this to me when I was 18 (which they probably did, but I also had a parent yelling at me pretty loudly to be practical so I could support her when she got old (joke's on her, she's old now and I haven't spoken to her since 2014 and never will again)), it wouldn't have mattered -- I thought I was choosing the major that was what I wanted to do most, and I was pretty solidly on the side of telling my peers to do the same, and grieving with the ones who had parents who felt their tuition money was buying them permanent control over their children's lives.

I would hate to see someone who doesn't even like computer science, though, choose it anyway because of shaming from people using the 🍟 emoji (and by the way, there is zero shame in working in food service -- someone has to cook for the people who get to spend their time writing), because of middle-class anxiety over the psychic cost of being one of the people their parents or grandparents stepped on to achieve middle-class status. It's one thing to choose it because it seems like the most fun thing at the time, another to hide your light under the barrel of "a stable job, a practical career."

So if you're reading this and you're a teenager, choosing a major, or choosing whether to go to college at all, and you want to write or make art: write. Make your art. Put your first energies into those things, build whatever scaffolding you need to in order to keep your first energies there. (And if you change your mind later, that's cool too.) If you de-center those things in your life now, it will never get any easier to center them again. Do what it takes to survive, but never pretend that what fuels your fire is secondary and "real jobs" are primary; know it's the other way around.

If you're 28 and in a "good" job and you want to write or make art but you're afraid of losing safety, know it'll never get any easier. So you might as well do it now.

If you're 38 and you want to write or make art but you have 2 kids to support, I wish you the best.

We -- as in, we adults who've had our dreams beaten out of us -- terrorize kids with a lot of fear-mongering about starving artists and starving musicians. The truth is that artists and musicians have always found ways to survive in a world hostile to art, so long as they're lucky enough to get taught that the shame of not being affluent must be avoided at all costs. (There are a few other kinds of luck that I'll talk about a little later.)

Sometimes there's a very strong reason to pick the "I'll make a lot of money, then I'll do what I want" path: medical bills or responsibility for children or parents or both, while living in a society that is vicious towards young, old, sick, and disabled people. But ask yourself: If I'll be able to do The Thing later, when I have X amount of money, can I do it now without the money? And likewise: If I'm afraid to do The Thing now, will having X amount of money actually address the root cause of that fear? Because "I need to have X amount of savings before I do Y" tends to turn into "no, no, I was wrong, I need X*Z amount of savings first". The goalposts never stop moving. When you were 12, maybe you thought all you needed was rent money and enough food to eat. At 25, maybe that turns into a down payment on a house, and at 30, maybe a hot tub in the yard, a nice car, and a vacation home. Centering yourself on what really matters now builds a foundation on which it remains easier to not forget what mattered to you in the face of the distractions capitalism will try to sell you (especially when you spend all day in an office with people who also believe they can buy their way to personal fulfillment).

Another thing to keep in mind: even if you are a person who can put in 8+ hours a day at a professional job, then leave and spend 6+ hours on your art (and not sleep much), you don't really know how much time you have before becoming too disabled to do both. Might be 60 years. Might be 1 year. All abled people are temporarily abled, and some of the most common disabilities and chronic illnesses take your excess energy first. Not to mention that chronic stress both from toxic jobs and double-timing tends to trigger any latent predispositions to those illnesses.

Especially now, in 2017: there is only the present; stability in the future is a lie.

Keep in mind reading all of this, I don't necessarily know the answer or the plan, not even for me and certainly not for you. I'm 36 and still in a job I'm ambivalent about on the best days, and I want to buy a house and adopt kids; renting a room doesn't afford much space for musical instruments or my sewing machine or more animals, much less kids. At this point, I don't have the conviction that the writing and art I want to make are worth delaying those plans for (the plans that more closely resemble the lives of my peers, my college friends and my office co-workers, and have their own appeal).

A few months ago I was driving through Iowa and bought a new hardcover copy of Bruce Springsteen's autobiography on impulse. When I started reading it, I loved the writing but I had to set it aside because some uncomfortable feeling overwhelmed me, and a little later I realized it was envy: of people like him and his friends who got to spend their time, from early teens onwards, playing the kind of music they wanted to play. I was playing music when I was a teenager, too, but I hated it, and stopped as soon as I had the freedom to. It took me my entire adult life so far to want to do it again. My other musical hero, John Darnielle, worked day jobs for most of his career. Envy, as well, because I can't seem to find work that isn't primarily emotional labor (even when my business card says "engineer") and that doesn't leave me with much at the end of the day to put into art.

So while part of me knows it's not too late, part of me is too busy grieving over all the time I lost to be able to make a new plan. If you're younger, and don't have as many sunk costs, maybe listen to whatever inside you makes you feel the most alive. And if you're older than me, do it too so I'll have more examples to look to.

Another reason why the original advice is garbage: yes, Wallace Stevens was an insurance agent. But I suspect that if you look at the writers you like, you'll find more people who can write because they have a partner who financially supports them than you'll find full-time engineers or lawyers who are part-time writers. This is sort of a dirty little secret. The best thing you can do to be a successful artist is major in whatever you want, then marry rich.

This doesn't mean you should marry for money. It does mean that "bust your ass doing 2-3 jobs if you want to earn the right to be an artist" is toxic victim-blaming capitalist pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps bullshit, because a lot of the artists you admire got there because someone else worked full-time to support them, not because they moonlighted. The good luck of being loved by someone with money should not be confused with hard work.

Aside from economics, something I think stops a lot of younger people from following their vision is belief in scarcity: there are a lot of people who want to be musicians and writers, and many who are more talented than you, so why bother? Even if you make a living off it, you won't be famous. There are too many novels and no one will read yours; too many bands and no one will go to your shows. Sound familiar? It does for me.

The more time passes, the more I think that's a seductive lie, too, not because you will get famous, but because that probably isn't what you want anyway. What you do want is time to spend doing the work that makes you feel whole.

'You hold onto Berryman’s line – “It is idle to reply to critics” – and understand that the actual work isn’t the thing you make, but the process that makes it, whose inherent value and dignity is well beyond any debate, because it is an expression of your self and therefore nobody can really judge it.' -- John Darnielle

2017 - #26, "Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen"

2017-Mar-11, Saturday 08:25 am
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine

This is, what, third or maybe fourth time I read this and it's still a delightful read. I think the trick is to leave a while between the rereads, to sort of vaguely smear the memory of the story and be delighted when things are remembered right and wrong and simply not remembered. And, of course, enjoy the story.

I would say that it is not really like most "Miles" books, because it is fundamentally not a "Miles" book (he does appear, but...). If that's what you want, you have to go back at least two (I think) to Cryoburn.
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