Today we’re joined by Caren Rose. Caren is an awesome versatile artist and I believe she’s a first for Asexual Artists: Caren does a lot of programming, including mobile apps. Aside from programming, she does a lot of writing and is currently working on a graphic novel. It’s very obvious that she has a lot of passion and drive. We’ll probably be seeing a lot of her in the future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a writer, primarily. I write realistic fiction and sci-fi, mostly, and both short stories and multi-chapter things (which I suppose could be called novels if I ever finished them). Most of the things I write would fit in the broad genre of “drama” with some angst and sometimes suspense thrown in for good measure. I write both original fiction and fanfiction, but with the exception of one story, I write my fanfics as they come – no outline, no thought to where the story may go, just writing whatever I feel like.
I have one series of “short” stories that I’ve been working on for nearly 12 years – I started with one story when I was in high school, and wrote a story 24 pages long (single-spaced!), before discovering that it had several glaring inaccuracies. By the time I finished the first story, I had an idea for a second – but as I delved into rewriting the first and got to know the main character better, the idea grew to a whole series of stories. Unfortunately, real life began to happen and inspiration struck elsewhere, and I never really finished that rewrite, so I have a grand idea but very few words. I also have another long-running project, this one fanfiction. In 2009 I began writing a story set in the future of the Star Trek universe. It is a “Sim story,” a story accompanied by pictures taken from The Sims 2. I updated slowly for a couple years, until I started school and moved. Once again, real life began to happen, and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to working on it regularly.
That all sounds like a big apology for not writing as much as I should. I suppose it is. But, while those are my two main but inactive projects, I’ve been recently working on a graphic novel. I hadn’t done much drawing since art class in high school, but when I started again I really got into it. From there it simply combined with my writing and out came an idea for a graphic novel. In fact, I have two ideas – one original and one fanfic. As usual, the fanfiction has no real direction, but the characters are fun to draw in all kinds of different situations.
Though not “typically” thought of as art, I’ve also been programming for just over 2 years. I do a lot of work with websites, but prefer writing desktop and mobile apps. My most recent projects are an ambient sound mixer program and an Android (hopefully eventually iOS) app for writers like myself, to help them organize their ideas. I’m still in the early stages of both.
What inspires you?
I have what I call a very strong creative drive. I liken it to sexual attraction, actually – where some people see a person and have a strong desire to be with them, I see a subject or a method of creating, and have a strong desire to see what I can create through it. It may not be good, if I have no background with that style or medium, but most of the time I’ll try and have fun anyway.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My mother was very creative, too. She and my dad would come up with “Princess Lily” stories whenever I asked for one, and every night at bedtime. One year for Christmas, they created a scavenger hunt for each day leading up to Christmas, and each day I would find one Alphabet stamper marker. Each day, I would stamp in one more letter in a book until I had all the blanks filled in on Christmas. It was a Princess Lily story that gave hints to one of my Christmas presents.
I started learning how to code just over two years ago, and found I really loved it. I knew I wanted to go into the IT field, but wasn’t sure what area. At my school, everyone in the IT program has to take an introductory programming class, whether or not they are planning to go into programming. When I took that class, even though it covered only the very basics, I knew it was what I wanted to do. My first program I created for myself was a simple aspect ratio calculator. Now I write mobile apps in my spare time J
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
It’s not really a signature, just a recurring thing – nearly every story I write ends up with a character with a neurological disorder. It’s simply because I’m very interested in neurology that it keeps happening!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
I’m not sure I’m the best to give advice, considering my track record of unfinished projects 🙂
I’d say, two things:
Don’t worry about turning your art into a career – whether you want an artistic career or not, don’t worry about it. If you want to, definitely go for it! It can be rewarding and fulfilling. Don’t concern yourself with the people who tell you that you’ll never make a living on it. There are plenty of people willing to pay and to pay well for creative work. On the other hand, you don’t have to find an artistic career if you don’t want to. Don’t feel like no career will possibly live up to your passion of creating. Find a career doing something you enjoy (important, because you don’t want a day job draining all your energy!) and devote your free time to your art. Depending on your personality, you may find it more fulfilling than having to create in order to support yourself.
Second, don’t censor yourself. This is advice I still need to learn, myself. You don’t have to create perfection on your first try. Have fun with your art, be messy and be free. It’s all too easy to critique yourself as you go, and critique turns to second-guessing, and you run yourself into a creative block because you can’t find just the right word, or whatever. It’s okay for things not to be 100% on the first try! It’s unlikely others will notice what you see as errors, and you can always do a “second draft.” Similarly, don’t beat yourself up over the quality of old work. They say practice makes perfect, and it’s true. No matter how good you were for your experience level years ago, if you have more experience now you’ll find things to hate in your old work. Don’t do that to yourself. You were good then, and you’re good now. Your mistakes/whatever you hate were never because you were a “terrible artist,” it was just because you didn’t have as much experience as now. If you let yourself hate your old work, you invite yourself to hate your current work because “someday it could be better.” No. Of course you’ll always be improving, but you’re a good artist RIGHT NOW!
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Asexual, specifically autochorissexual (a disconnection between oneself and a sexual target/object of arousal), probably grey-heteroromantic, but not really sure about that.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I haven’t. Some of it is that I’m still in school, not really “in my field” for programming. Many programmers are middle-aged married guys with children – but the stereotype is still that we have no love life. As for writing … I’m not published (except for posting things for public consumption on fanfic sites) so I’m not “in my field” there either. I do know that romance, especially sex and romance, gets readers just for being what it is. Sometimes I feel like stories where romance is either a secondary subplot or absent, you have to work harder to get people just to read it. It may not be true, but I feel like that sometimes.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
From inside the ace community, that “true” asexuals never have sex. Every time the topic comes up, multiple people show up saying “how can you be asexual if you have sex all the time?” “I’m asexual because I choose not to have sex.” And so on.
There are certainly many sex-repulsed aces, non-sex-repulsed aces who just don’t have sex for any number of reasons (me), but there are also aces who do have sex.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You’re not broken, you’re not just a late bloomer. There’s lots of people like you in the world. Meeting those people can be a great step to accepting yourself.
I’m sorry I don’t have much to say to romantic asexuals struggling to find a relationship with someone who accepts them for who they are. The best I can say is surround yourself with good friends, and don’t let things get you down.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m a little bit all over the internet.
My DeviantArt at http://carenrose.deviantart.com/
FanFiction.net at https://www.fanfiction.net/~carenrose
My section at MoonlightDragon (Sims site) http://moonlightdragon.freeforums.org/carenrose-s-area-f95.html
And my new website (with nothing at all up yet) at http://carenrose.com
Thank you, Caren, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.