Tried inking my first matrix today... of course I have questions!!!

The ink - got it from Bostick Sullivan, crayon black. Sealed with tape and a layer of wax paper. The stuff is STIFF... I can get a blob out with a palette knife, but barely (just bends the knife).

I can beat it into submission by kneading with the knife. Is this the stiffness desired? I tried cutting it with a faint drop of linseed oil from my illustration supplies, but had a lot of trouble keeping highlights open.

Soaking the matrix - after the first inking, when I do subsequent soakings - the slightest touch lifts the ink. I can keep my fingers on the borders, but blotting the print damages inked areas. I've seen videos of people just wiping away. I have to just barely dab. Laying it face-down on blotting paper to dry the back leaves scuffs in the ink. Is this normal?

I'm not letting the ink dry between inking sessions since I figure that will lock the ink in permanently - and videos I've seen (Goldkind, Gryspeerdt, etc) - they're just dipping and inking continuously.

Thanks for any thoughts & direction!