November didn’t even make a whooshing sound as it passed me by. I don’t even know where the past three weeks went.Or rather I do, but they went too fast, slipping through my fingers before I could get a grasp on them.
I’ve had some ups and downs over the past few weeks, dealing with some personal things. Now I’ve had a few days off work and to myself, a time I’ve come out of with more energy and a little more focus. The personal battles are over for now, and I can fully give myself over to the Christmas spirit, as is obligatory this time of year. Can’t wait to watch Elf later today.
You know which battle is still ongoing? The one with Illustrator.
This is a work-related task, so no photos: I’ve been given PDFs by a foreign publisher that want translation. They’re maps that look like they were once upon a time drawn in Illustrator, with writing layered on top that I need to switch out for the translation. Opened in Illustrator, they became horrorscapes of hundreds of layers, many of them duplicates. And because I had some time and lots of motivation on my hands, I thought hey, this is my reason to start learning Illustrator.
So I turned to Daniel Scott of bringyourownlaptop.com, whose courses I recommend very much (I get them via Skillshare), and started his Illustrator Essentials class. An hour or two later, armed with the most rudimentary knowledge of the pen and selection tools, I opened those maps and went to work. It took the past three weeks and about seven different attempts, each cleaner and faster than the one that came before. At this point, I’m done, the things are as sparkly clean as I’ll get them, ready for new German words, and I’m nearly done with the course and ready for the Advanced one.
(Side note: I don’t like Illustrator. This has been a slog and I want to go back to Photoshop please.)
Any other projects?
Learning Illustrator is taking up most of my mental space, as is just work. I’ve spent a silly amount in InDesign and Photoshop over the past weeks, so my motivation to open the software for even more of that outside of work is lacking, but at least I learn something every time.
When I have the headspace for it, I work on a friend’s business cards and on a book cover. Both of these are slow going, but that’s better than no going at all, right?
I’ve been reading
- Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich. I’ve had this book for years, shipped it over from London back in 2019, and I couldn’t just give it away without reading it. It only reminded me how much I prefer traditional storytelling over experimental fiction, but at least I can let go now.
- Dogs of the Deadlands by Anthony McGowan. Some quotes in the front of the book liken it to Watership Down and Plague Dogs, which I’m not quite on board with, but I’ve always had a weak spot for animal stories. It was okay, but nowhere close to Watership Down. I’m sorry, but those rabbits had an entire religion, language and mythology, and those dogs barely had names.
- Das Rosen-Experiment by Jan Böttcher. A historical novel about Berlin in the late 1920s and a young female student of Psychology. A rare DNF for me, as it’s just too slow going.
- The Fell by Sarah Moss. A quick read that I finished in two sittings, more a collection of character sketches than a real story. It didn’t really go places. But how great is the cover!
- Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. I listened to this as an audiobook, and really enjoyed it. A compelling story of mental illness, possession and family tragedy that, despite the ending that made no damn sense to me, hit really hard in some ways. I’m listening to The Cabin at the End of the Woods right now.
- Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro. This one followed me home from the bookstore because it’s dark, gothic-y and a heckin’ chonker at nearly 700 pages, and like everyone else and their mum I’ve read R.F. Kuang’s Babel recently and want to stay in 1800s magical England a little longer. This one hasn’t gripped me yet, almost halfway through, but I soldier on.
Other things I’ve been into
- Quiet daily vlogs by people whose lives are very different to mine, ideally the ones with little to no talking. People in tiny houses, people building themselves cabins in the mountains, living in studio flats in Seoul. I love a tiny quiet space.
- Life is Strange: True Colors. I’ve been wanting to play a Life is Strange game for a while now, and so the PS November sale was the perfect excuse. I enjoyed this game. It’s super beautiful, calming, and wholesome, about connections, family, friendship etc. I have several issues with the plot, but the atmosphere made up for that.
- German bookmaking. I went to visit #wirmachenbücher in Berlin the other day, a three-week popup event featuring a number of German indie publishers and events about making books. There are so many great things being made in this country, my head is spinning with ideas and inspiration and yes, gratitude that I get to be a part of it.