The Exclusion of All Else

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I have been working pretty much non-stop since I graduated in the Spring. There were two weeks after my last day of class where I gave myself time off to play all the video games and read all the books I had missed or set aside while I was working on my Honor’s Thesis, but even that didn’t last the full two weeks. I made it about a week and a half before John called me in to start working on some layout projects so that we could get our first issue of Vagus Street printed (another thing I had set aside while working on school) but by that time I was ready to start working anyways, so I can’t blame him.

I’ve been working on comics since: penciling, inking, playing around with storylines and struggling with writing since. I’ve spent the better part of every day wrapped up in three things: All the Growing Things, Vagus Street Project, and Era of Great Wonders.

Era has probably been the easiest one for me. Even though the art is some of the most detailed stuff I’ve done, it’s also been a bit easier to take something that someone else has struggled with the writing, and put that into pictures. Pictures I can handle, but sometimes the words don’t work the way I’d like them to (another reason to practice blogging every day, right?).

All the Growing Things has been more difficult for me to get back into working on. I went from not really thinking anyone was reading it, to publishing it, and then suddenly there are people that walk up to me and say, “Hey, I read your comic! I liked it! What is going to happen in the next one?” and I’m sort of paralyzed with panic. Not just that I’m trying to learn to accept compliments better, but in that I don’t really know exactly what’s going to happen in the next one. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, but AtGT has always been sort of a free form story for me; I write it and change it as I feel like it, and any time I get bored with it, I veer off into a direction of something else that I want to draw (or stop drawing, because after a while, drawing cowboys is not as fun as you’d think.)

I don’t really know what I’m doing, and now that people are watching I feel a sort of panic. I’m one of those people: I can be doing some task perfectly well, but as soon as I (realize I) have an audience I screw up. (Which as an aside: we have an aikido demonstration next month at my dojo, where there will all sorts of people. Watching. While we demonstrate our… our… our skills? I’m trying my best not to think about it).

Back on topic: performance anxiety and working too much.

So I sat down and thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that Real Writers Who Write Things For Realsies probably have outlines, and I’ve been outlining AtGT out, and while I’ve the first 20 pages figured out, I haven’t done more than put vague layouts and pencils to paper. It may look like I’m not doing anything, but the majority of my time (if not my brain) had been going into drawing Era of Great Wonders. It takes me about two days to do a page, although sometimes I get lucky and I can get two pages in a day done. That’s pretty rare though – most things are detailed, and I’m still getting used to working with Manga Studio (a new program) and my new Cintiq (which is amazing) that I tend to zoom in and do all the details that aren’t actually ever going to show up. Or maybe they will show up. Honestly, I’m really not so sure how it’s going to come out from the printers when we finally get this first book done and ready to go.

In the evenings I still work on AtGT, as well as Vagus Street. John isn’t working on that one right now, but I wanted to keep going, so he gave me permission to run with his world a little bit. I’ve been excited to muck around in it, but I’ve also been having a hard time finding the proper words to give it the exact atmosphere I’m going for. And worst of all? I’m stuck on the page that comes after the current one. The art is all drawn up and ready to go, but it just needs some words. And the current page? Has a big graffiti spot that spells out “END” but it’s NOT the end! It was just some graffiti! I keep thinking people are going to think it’s all done and on hiatus now, but it’s not!

Gah, this post is getting long, isn’t it?

But I spend all my time working on these things, thinking about them, and I’ve started to wonder if this is making me… I don’t know… less of an artist? I had a friend who (at the time) was supposed to be writing a sequel to a book I wanted to read, and  I was giving him a hard time because he was reading instead of writing, and he told me that nothing gets created in a vacuum. I still think about him telling me that; I think he may be right. I think I’m going to have to set actual work hours, and then whatever I don’t finish, I have to wait until tomorrow to work on. I can’t just work these 12 hour days and then wonder why I’m not painting anymore, or why my sketchbook is empty, or whine about how I don’t go to aikido because I’m working.

Not that I’m whining! (I hope I’m not!)

Because the problem is that I enjoy the work. I really do. I get in these ruts where I only do one thing. I don’t think I’m any sort of acronym that people like to throw around these days when talking about personalities, or personality disorders; I just think I get focused on things. I start painting, and I want to paint for as long as I can. I start playing video games, and I won’t move until I’m tired. I get out there gardening, and I can putter around until it’s too dark to see. I’m just… like that. And I need to learn to set boundaries, I think. Or something.

This post is getting really long, and I don’t know how to end it. So… let me just say: I’m working on stuff, I haven’t forgotten anything (that I know of, because, right? How would I know if I have?) and more art and comics will update eventually. It just takes more time than I’ve figured out how to use efficiently.


3 Responses

  1. See you are good at this blogging thing! And as for writers who write for realsies, which I like to think I am, I never use outlines. I never know how a story ends when I start it. Keeps it exciting I say!

    • A few years ago (maybe even over a decade ago?!) I used to blog all the time. I just loved it! But it’s hard to get back into, although I’m going to try for it.

      I know that’s how you write, but I still don’t think I’m experienced enough to do that – you’ve a ton of books under your belt, I have just the one! But again, I think it’s juts about getting used to it, right? Practice in all things?

      • I think it is just practice, though I have never used outlines, ever. But I suppose I am weird. Just do what works for you, don’t bother with what others are doing.

        PS- tomo our blogs will be different! It’s my update day 😉

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