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My Web Presence History

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My Web Presence History

My first website was made sometime in 1997 on Geocities after a friend of mine created his own site on that platform. I started from a template that created a simple, but ugly website. It went this way for a few months until I bought a copy of Dreamweaver and created more attractive HTML files I could upload and then I updated it with an attractive portfolio with some short stories and poems I have written to date. The title was unimaginative: The Fiction and Poetry of Shinichi Evans.

I went into the Wayback Machine and, unfortunately, I could not find a copy. A few years later, I branded my site shindotv and I got a domain name to boot. Shindo came from a moniker a high school friend gave to me when he created a postpunk goth zine.

I created an artful entry page with a cross and cigarette photo made by my brother, which the Wayback Machine has an intact copy, but for the menu page that follows, the blue square graphic grid with the mouse on over squares is incomplete. It still had the portfolio of the previous page with some additions.

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It was something I could use to show others my work as I was studying in an MFA program at the time. Alas, I didn’t update for several reasons: formatting works took time, my work at the time had a lot of images at the time, and that uploading files seemed to take more work. The site and the domain name lapses and it would be some time after I graduate that I would create a blog on Blogger/Blogspot.

I would call this blog shindotv and eventually reregister the dot com I lost earlier. Even though I called it my MFA afterlife, it never had a clear focus. I wrote some grad school memoirs, rants about adjunct teaching, and soon discovered the gay blogosphere in networking with other bloggers. Some of the blog entries from the time were clearly correspondence with other bloggers, where some others were more caught up with pop culture topics like Project Runway. I also added to my blogging community when I networked with the San Diego blogging and Twitter community. By that time, I had moved my site to a hosted site using Wordpress software. I felt like I was moving on up.

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Going side by side with my Blogspot blog was a profile I created on Myspace and my first Twitter profile. I cross-posted some of my blog entries on the MySpace profile. As for Twitter, it was early days and I didn’t tweet much on it. The iPhone would come out a year later and make it easy. But at the time, it depended on either posting the tweet by their website or texting from your phone, which was more tedious with having to having to use the number keys to get your letters and then send the message to a five digit phone number. The myspace profile would eventually lapse in use, but when I got a second generation iPhone, tweeting became easy. And then it became easy to tweet too much. As I made more connections in the San Diego Twitter community through their Tweetups (Twitter Meetups), I had more of an audience. 

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I would eventually get rid of the Myspace profile, especially when Facebook made it moot. Over three years ago, I got rid of my original Twitter profile. By that time, I wanted to put the content of my tweets, whether they were in the moment tweets, mini rants, or even my annoying attempts to promote shindotv behind me. Also, I stopped being invested keeping up with the relationships on Twitter.

I joined Facebook in early 2008, which is shortly after creating my Twitter and Facebook profiles. I friended old high school connections, colleagues, and even friends of friends. Of the profiles mentioned so far, the Facebook profile is the one that’s still in existence. It’s not because I like it anymore, but it’s become a communication utility that’s become entrenched in our culture. And like most people, my usage has evolved over the years.

There were silly games and applications. Facebook was convenient for short rants, some of which I’m not proud of. It was too easy to circulate memes. I posted a lot of links to current issues over the years. I also tried cross-posting my blog and posting links to entries early on, but eventually, Facebook killed the blogs. Speaking for myself, I can say it killed mine.

A few years ago ago, when I was lamenting blog death, I tried creating another blog, which I named The Shindoverse. It was hosted on my web server and I found snazzy Wordpress templates for it. Whereas shindotv went all over the place, The Shindoverse would have fewer, but more thoughtful entries. My intent was to go for quality. I had some writerly entries and then I did discuss my cycling as a process and discipline I was discovering later. Two years ago, the site fell victim to malicious hacks. The attacks didn't seem to target me personally (like it was trying to ruin me), but it was a time when sites with Wordpress software were heavily targeted by hackers looking to hijack the sites. I copied and pasted as many entries onto a MS word file and then deleted the blog.

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I ended my account with my web host shortly after and I migrated the shindotv blog and my domain shindotv.com to my account on Wordpress.Com.

Over the past five years, I have also had accounts on Instagram and Tumblr. I posted images of bow ties, local beers, and lots of photos of San Diego on my Instagram profile. One nice thing at the height of the bow tie postings was that I developed some relationships with bow tie sellers and I got some free ties from them, which I then happily shouted out. I also posted photos of the ones I bought. Much of these images were cross-posted on my Tumblr profile, which I also used to try to get back into blogging and writing. I have tapered off from using both Tumlbr and Instagram about half a year ago.

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Two years ago, I decided a going back to a static website would be good. I created my website and this blog on Squarespace. This time, I would keep it focused on my Resplendence project from my MFA and related works. Though I named it The Shindoverse, the Gold Lady became the face of this new site. She’s always been a better ambassador of my brand than I can ever be. There’s room for other works though. 

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I put off on making the site live after I got most of the pages up as I needed to put text and captions where needed. It was simply procrastination. I finally got the text where I needed it around the start of the year and here it is. I also started posting on The Shindoverse Notebook, more or less going with a New Year’s resolution to write 250-500+ words a day. However, this also represents a step I’m taking in my creative journey, so it’s important to me.

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Last summer, I created The Shindoverse blog on my Wordpress account as a way to tell my story, whether with the creative journey or other things, like having dealt with prostate cancer over the past two years. It has recently found use as the mirror blog for The Shindoverse Notebook. It’s not completely out of line with the purpose I outlined on the blog and there’s room for discussing a wide variety of things under my creative journey or telling my story. 

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Over the decades, I have sought to present myself as a writer online, not all attempts successful. All these different manifestations on the web have also been an attempt to develop my voice, whether it has been the stories or the discussion. I’ve come back to having a portfolio. I’ve also returned to having a blog. I hope my use of these things will evolve in way that serves my intentions and my art. 

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Busted E String

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Busted E String

I've had a goal to learn how to play the guitar for a while. Last summer, I bought a guitar, a wonderful left-handed Fender model. I got some self-teaching books, but I never made it past first string. I have also felt it would be a good idea to get lessons, but it's always a matter of schedule and expense, etc.

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Since this year is still young, I figured I'd pick up the guitar again and learn it. I made music flashcards with notes and string positions, so I can arrange them any way I want: open strings, by string, sharps, flats, etc and even throw a chord or two in at a time. I came up with a way that works for me in the meantime and I was excited to try it out.

Yesterday, I came home from Guitar Trader with a tuner and strap for my guitar. I clipped the tuner to the head and started with the first string. It was very taut and I knew it for a while. I told myself the night before I needed to properly tune it. I didn't know it was so tight that it would bust with a short turn of the tuning key. And it was irritatingly inconvenient at the moment.

I felt derailed right after that string broke.

I had just come home from a several mile ride across two cities with the bulk of it spent on the freeway, and I didn't want to repeat the trip on a late Friday afternoon/early evening.

The good thing, though is I knew this problem was solvable and and that I could do something about it on a saner time. While it didn't require sleeping on, that I could put this off until the next morning was self care.

When it came to writing, self care wasn't always evident. Even with methods of backing up data, computer crashes can still take writers by surprise and it is stressful. It doesn't help for people to say that you should have backed up your files. You lost your writing and it can be traumatic. There are the times when someone makes crazy in your life and it hinders you in trying to write. When you succeed in getting them out of your life, it may take some to recover both your sense of self and the writing practice. It's not as simple as buying an E string and installing it on the guitar.

Once upon a time, I wanted to learn to write and I set about making a goal of it. It helped to have those literacy skills. I then got the education. And I got the reminder that learning writing is a never ending process.

My goal to learn how to play the guitar is a more personal one. Here, the equipment is important and there are a lot of practical solutions to problems. However, this is a process just like writing and it requires patience and self care.

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Writer’s Guides: The Artist’s Way

Once upon a time, I took an Artist’s Way workshop. This was post-MFA with me having taught for a couple of years and feeling frustrated about not really getting any writing done. Meanwhile, a friend who is a self-taught poet was inspired by Interview with a Vampire and went down the rabbit hole of vampire literature and films and movies in teaching himself how to write his own vampire novel. This same friend told me about the Artist Way Workshop that was facilitated by a friend of his.

I knew about Julia Cameron’s book for many years, but shied away from it. It sounded New Agey, like drum circles. But there are times in one's life when one needs something like that, so I decided to give it a try.

It's hard to get away from the spiritual component of The Artist's Way. Cameron isn't the only one to advance this idea of creativity being a spiritual thing as there's the Zen connection in Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and the Christianity that guides Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. Cameron doesn't come from a specific faith or tradition in her approach, though invites the reader who's picked up her book to see themselves as being made in the image of the image of the Creator to be creators themselves.

While a theme of this book is following your creative passion, it's not about getting caught up in a vague spirituality. Julia Cameron gives a prescription for self-care long before it became a term while walking the reader through practice with plenty of activities and prompts, like morning pages, artist dates, and assignments to tap into one's creativity.

Through it all, it is about pursuing art safely in the safe space you make for yourself. A term that stuck out for me is crazy maker, that person who obstructs or details you from own creative journey. While we need other people, especially those who encourage us as creatives, we don't need the self-serving, abusive people who keep us from moving forward.

All of us can identify crazy makers in our lives and something that becomes clear in this book is that we are not to be crazy makers ourselves, but people who also support other creatives.

This is where the workshop comes in. I met some wonderful people in those sessions, some of whom I still keep in touch with in some way. Some people took what they were doing already further, while others made different creative decisions. I didn't pick up on my writing, but I did decide to learn how to sew. This was something I always wanted to do. Also, my lacking this skill was something that held me back when I was a high school senior applying to get into a fashion school. I wanted to do fashion design, but got shunted into visual presentation. I was still pursuing my visual art passion at the time, but I had also limited myself from what I actually wanted to do. I suppose it's not too late. I don't think I'd want to now. I can still make fabulous clothes for myself, but I digress.

The workshop followed the 14 week structure given in the book. The facilitator in my group stuck largely to the script, but he also added his own shamanism and his framework of the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy's journey and the symbols from the book and film added greatly to the his lessons. For him, creativity was about the magic and he would even wave his fingers at me or someone else to transmit it.

It had been years since then that I had picked up the book. I don't think I even had it anymore, so last week, I went to Bookofff with the purpose of buying it and I managed to find it. It's no small feat to find a book you're specifically looking for in a used bookstore, so this was synchronicity.

The workshop's facilitator died a couple of years ago, so I also see it as his magic lives on and that it was no accident that I found it. I've been going through it and remembering his lessons, but also seeing what Julia Cameron has to say with fresh eyes.

 

Here is the list of writing books:

  1. Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down The Bones
  2. Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
  3. Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
  4. Rachel Simon, The Writer's Survival Guide
  5. Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer
  6. Jeff Vandermeer, Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Writing Imaginative Fiction
  7. Jessica Page Morrell, The Writer's I Ching (with card deck)
  8. Naomi Epel, The Observation Deck: A Toolkit for Writers (cards and guide)
  9. Jamie Cat Callan, The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the “Write” of Your Brain (game kit)

 

There are more titles I can name, maybe later.

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Beginner's Mind

In the first chapter of Writing Down the Bones, “Beginner's Mind, Pen, and Paper,” Natalie Goldbergtells the writer who picks this book up, "In a sense, the beginner's mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write." It's easy to think about how profound this sounds. However, its a reminder of no matter how much you've written or what you have achieved, it's always a starting over when one writes. As I haven't really written in a while, this is a good place to come back to.

It's also very challenging. In my case, I've taken many creative writing workshops in my youth and thought getting into an MFA program would validate me as a writer and then I could step my way into breaking out into the literary world. Sometime later. I got a portfolio together and applied for to program and got the MFA. It didn't make me a literary star, but I did get work as an adjunct instructor teaching community college English courses. I also taught English as a foreign language. In these jobs, I've reached people in their beginner minds. It's easy to as a teacher. However, with experience and even some measure of authority, it can be difficult to get into this mindset.

With all the experience and education I can discuss, there is baggage that comes with it, whether it's the times I had a case of the Dunning-Kruger (being too confident of my abilities) or the complete opposite where I felt completely destroyed in workshops. Also, I've been frustrated with feeling that I wasn't understood by my peers from an artistic standpoint. This is all stuff that can be let go.

I can let go of my pride and my fear and my frustration. I can also let go of the experiences, good or bad. I can let go of the bad teacher who built me up until he decided to destroy me. I can let go of that student who thought she could teach my class when I was a TA. I can let go of the guy who liked nothing better than to tear his classmates down. I can let go of everything from those times.

I can check these inhibiting factors and others as I become aware of them.

Having a beginner's mind gives me the permission to fail, to make mistakes, to have what Anne Lamott calls "shitty first drafts."

I can also check whatever writer fetishes that I may have picked over the years like Moleskines and fountain pens and any other trappings and do away with them. I once had the perfect writerly apartment and it was a struggle to work in, just like those nicely bound notebooks.

I have to admit I find the Notes app on my iPhone very good for getting thoughts out similar to how Natalie Goldberg suggest cheap spiral bound notebooks. It's not an app I take too seriously as a writing tool. I can also experiment with the cheap notebooks too. Overall, whatever tools I use, it's important to have the beginner's mindset.

In conclusion, I can look at any start to writing as starting again. I may knock it out of the park, but there will be false starts and things that don't work and things I still need to learn. And if I have to learn something again or learn something I feel I should know, but don't, that is OK.

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250-500+ Words: A Daily Writing Goal

This new year, like other new years before, I made some resolutions. One of them was to write every day, or at least write with more frequency than I have before. I’ve taken writing classes and have even gone through an MFA creative writing program, yet the discipline to write can be elusive. This is something I want to change in this comings year. 

There are all kinds of reasons and excuses I find for not writing. Here are a few: 

  • I am not in the right frame of mind. 
  • I am too exhausted to think about it. 
  • Teaching exhausts me.
  • I don’t have the time as I got too much to do.
  • The blank page is daunting. 
  • I can’t translate my imagination into text. 
  • I suck at this. 

I am not in the right frame of mind can cover every bullet point above, but I’ll focus on the first three. Often, I have avoided writing because of emotional reasons and/or other mental states. My most common reason in this category is that I am overwhelmed or too hyperstimulated to focus. It is fair to say that I am actually too exhausted to think about it. This is more common for me later in the day, especially when I have been through work, taught a class, had to deal with people, or all of these things. All my creative, intellectual, and emotional energy often gets used up in these situations.

That I often don’t have time as I got much to do isn’t unique to me. Almost everyone I knew has this problem. I do need to work for a living and that takes up a lot time. Showing up takes a lot of time, but so does any obligation outside of the classroom such as preparation and meeting students and professional development. Then there is the commuting. And things that demand my time aren’t limited to work such as family, responsibilities at home, and making time to be social.

I often think that I suck at this. Whether I have internalized what someone said about my work or that language hasn’t always come easy for me, I let my lack of confidence stop me. This can manifest itself when conditions are more ideal for me to write such as it being early in the day or that I made some time in the day to sit down and write. I find the blank page daunting and I have already anticipated the criticism before I even began. And even though I know writing is a process, the idea of writing something out and having it completely suck is enough to stop me in my tracks. And this is the type of thinking that leads me into thinking I can’t translate my imagination into words.

These are the general obstacles I see in my life to writing more regularly. As I move forward, I can keep these things in mind and think about solutions and workarounds to what I have discussed. However, my goal is to make writing on a regular basis a practice. This isn’t merely writing for the sake of writing but actively creating the stories I want to create.

My goal is to write 250-500+ words a day. This fits in with Kevin Whelan’s “A Writer’s Declaration,” where he resolves to write 250 words as his daily goal and that every subject is fit for his pen. That sounds like a good plan to adopt. This blog entry clocks in at 597 words.

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Kevin Whelan’s “A Writer’s Declaration,” this copy given to me by a wonderful creative writing profesor many years ago in my MFA program.

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