August 13, 2018

Roses and Reviews

This dress is by far one of my favorites from the several I made last year. I just love a floral with a dark background, and the sheer quality of this fabric just gives the layered style a little extra something, makes the dress read a bit more evening I think. Perfect for a fancier summer date night (not that I date, ha!) or even perhaps attending an evening summer wedding. The soft roses on black just seem a bit romantic no?

While my past weekend did not include any romantic dates, I did have rather an engaging meeting all the same. On Friday afternoon I met up with two wonderful women who had read my manuscript to talk about the book and get their thoughts and reactions. As I waited for the appointed time to arrive, I felt more butterflies in my stomach than I had in a very long time. Sharing your art is scary at the best of times, but waiting to receive feedback on my manuscript from what were essentially my ideal beta readers-- and two very intelligent women I really admire in general-- was at moments just flat out terrifying. What if they had hated it? What if they said the structure was all wrong, said it was disjointed and messy, or even offensive or problematic? My head ran through everything they could say, which I suppose is one way for the mind to try to calm itself down, calculate for every eventuality to prepare for the worst.

And they didn't hate it, but they did have a lot of interesting feedback, and also caught all of my remaining typos for me, which was very useful! Some beta readers will give you barely anything, a yea or nay essentially in review, and then others will practically become unpaid editors for you. As I had been the only one to edit the manuscript so far, outside eyes were very welcome. These most lovely beta readers of mine that I met up with on Friday had even printed out the manuscript to read it, and therefore wrote notes in the margins and crossed out typos for me. While many of these notes were small things, many were also confirmations of things I had already been thinking. "You don't need this sentence here." Correct, I don't, and I had almost removed it before. Now I will most certainly cut it. What does this tell me? To really trust my gut with those kinds of things.

Of course critique, even very useful and constructive critique, still hurts. Especially when someone points out weak points you already feel aware of and self conscious about. I was worried about how I would handle it. My writing means more to me than anything else I currently do, so that leaves me feeling rather fragile in the face of criticism, or so I thought. It is so important to remember that the "negative" comments are always going to seem twenty times louder than the positive ones. The negative, or what your brain interprets as negative, comments and reactions are the ones your brain will replay for you over and over, throwing you into a swirling pool of doubt. Yes, hearing where I went wrong or could improve did sting, but I think I managed to be receptive instead of defensive-- which is always my goal. In the end the book will be better the more I listen. Listen yes, but not always concede. Some things are easy fixes, many are notes I agree with and will change, and some notes or questions...I am going to completely ignore.

The funny thing about art is: yes outside feedback is important, and can help you grow and learn new things about your own process and even your world view, but your art is also yours. The things you create belong first to you. You can decide to share them, and then the world will comment and judge, rave or recoil, but create first to please yourself and the rest will matter less. I wrote this book for my own enjoyment, and it's impossible to even quantify how much I have indeed enjoyed writing and editing it this year. Now I get to keep editing it some more, and that is a total gift!

Also, having other people give me feedback now has me asking certain questions of the work myself, even though other people haven't commented on them.

This book of mine takes place in the vague future in a different country, one that I have never even visited. Despite hours and hours of research, of course I still fear missteps. One of the questions I have asked beta readers is "did you notice anything problematic?", because not all of the characters in my book are white (most aren't actually) and as a privileged millennial white girl myself, I know I no doubt have, and will continue to, mess up. It is so important to me to be cognizant of this and try my best to be both diverse and inclusive in my writing, while also avoiding cultural appropriation and misrepresentation as much as I possibly can. Writing speculative fiction means I get to make a lot of stuff up, but analyzing why I wrote the world of my story the way I did, or what implications I am possibly making, even with "good intentions", are important steps in the editing process that I have been diving into ever since my beta readers have said "no, nothing stood out to me as problematic".

Because now that I am reexamining the work again myself, I do see a few things that need fixing in this regard, even I can now see things that could be interpreted as potentially offensive. Use your own outside eye. If this was someone else's work and I was set the task of ripping it apart, what would I find? There is a line, there are many varied lines, between fun fiction and harmful misrepresentation or perpetuating stereotypes. Just getting feedback from others has been enough to generate new and different critique even from within myself, and I am so very thankful to have more work to do.

So as you can see, that meeting has dominated my mind this weekend. I would love to hear your thoughts on these sort of topics as well. How has feedback shaped your own work and process? Or do you make art only for yourself never intending it to be shared? I think that might be easier! Happy Monday everybody ;)

Dress & Earrings, Bracelets: Made by me
Shoes: DSW (Madden Girl)
Fishnets: Amazon
Clutch & Necklace: Vintage
Hair Flower Clip: Alternate Normality

August 12, 2018

Video : A Retro & Vintage Haul

It's Sunday night and I think it might just be time to relax a bit? Hmm. I've got a movie queued up on Netflix, my cat here asleep next to me, and even some chocolate near at hand, so perhaps for once I'll take a night off from working on the book and just relax. I forget I am allowed to just chill sometimes! I tend to work on writing and editing into the wee hours, but I need to get better at giving myself breaks. Breaks and time away are good for perspective, and actually help make the manuscript better, so I must remind myself to do better at balancing it all.

Anyways, if you are also relaxing on this calm Sunday evening, and would like to hear a girl ramble on at length about her vintage shopping habits, have I got the video for you!

August 9, 2018

Swirling Summer Skirts

This is the third time I have worn this skirt here on the blog. I paired it with black and red accessories last summer (here), and with a white blouse back in 2016 (here). Going back to find those posts was really odd because scrolling through my outfit posts from just last year, and especially as far back as 2016, I feel like my style has really evolved since then! Sometimes it's good to look back and even cringe a little so you can appreciate how far you've come even over a short time. Perhaps in another few years I will look upon my current ensemble and photography choices in the same way, but only time will tell...

This time I paired this wonderful printed cotton skirt with a black lace top (from Old Navy of all places!) and tan leather accessories. I was so happy to pick up these bait sandals in the tan colorway in the last Black Friday sale! I dream of them releasing this same shoe in navy blue one day...PLEASE BAIT!!! I need good navy heels so badly, they are so hard to find! The brushed gold hoop earrings are also from Old Navy, and the wicker handbag is vintage from Etsy a few years back. This was the first wicker bag I ever bought, but I have expanded my collection since of course. 

I hope you all are having a good week. I'm pretending my mind isn't consumed by writing the sequel to the book I wrote earlier this year. You see, I told myself I'm not allowed to work on the sequel yet, that I have to get the darn first one sold first, that I need to work on videos, and pattern drafting, and perfecting my query letter some more. I know how the story consumed my brain completely the last time, and now I am afraid to let that happen again! So no, no sequel writing for me...except I'm already 30,000 words in so...oops. Sometimes the words win.

Top & Earrings: Old Navy
Longline Bra: Rago
Skirt & Handbag: Vintage
Shoes: Bait Footwear
Belt: Target
Fishnets: Amazon
Bracelet: Made by me
Petticoat: Malco Modes

August 8, 2018

Cataloging Catalogs: MW Spring/Summer 1950 Hats

For some reason there were less hat pages than usual in the Montgomery Ward Spring Summer 1950 catalog. Were ladies going bare headed more often already in 1950? I can't say, but I'd happily add some of these hats into my collection even now in heartbeat!

I have been slacking with my scanning lately, do forgive me. There aren't many pages left in this particular catalog to show you all actually. Next up we have sportswear, then we'll go through the shoes and accessories, then finish this particular catalog with the fabrics on offer. I did just pick up another "new" catalog, this time a 1949/1950 fall/winter catalog, so the season just before this one! It's about time to switch back over to a fall/winter catalog anyhow, so I'm sure you will be seeing more from Ward's and I soon!

August 6, 2018

See You in Space Cowboy...

What to wear when you want to be both very comfortable but still want to look vintage, and also show a bit of nerd pride? A graphic tee and a pencil skirt, can't go wrong.

Add a sheer nylon scarf for even more Grease bad girl vibes if needed. Vary the heel height based on the day or evening's activities. The basic formula is also a perfect option for most concerts with a band tee as well.

I only started watching any anime at all a few years ago, and I am still incredibly picky about what I watch. I like very few shows, but the ones I do...I LOVE. Like, I really, really, adore. Cowboy Bebop is at the very top of that rather short list. I tried to explain the basic premise to a good friend of mine once and failed miserably, because summarizing the show is a bit difficult. A mash up of genres, some old tropes made new, and the melding of various motifs in new juxtaposing ways. A show about bounty hunters with a genetically engineered corgi that's really about being haunted by your past until you finally confront it, about being stuck in a rut until you finally face what needs facing. Then there is the music, which...yes, just YES. I love Cowboy Bebop.

And don't even get me started about how great Samurai Champloo is too... did you see that they asked the director of both series Shinichiro Watanabe to make a Blade Runner short in promotion of Blade Runner 2049 last year? Talk about putting everything I love in one little stew.

I hope you all had a good weekend. I spent most of Saturday writing, and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing the rest of the week too, but we can't always get what we want right? Well, I've got a little bit of time tonight at least, so I guess I'll get to it. Okay three, two, one, let's jam.

Tee: BoxLunch
Skirt: Made by me
Shoes: DSW (Madden Girl)
Clutch, Bracelet, & Scarf: Vintage
Sunglasses: Amazon
Earring: Luxulite

August 3, 2018

Video : Summer Lookbook

Of course most of you have seen these ensembles before here on the blog, but here they are in motion! Have a good weekend everyone! :)

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