Journal

I Am Not the Best Thing Ever and That's Okay

Hello dear readers!

It is currently a lovely *trying to pretend it’s fall* day.

It’s eighty degrees where I am, but there is a breeze…and some falling leaves.

It’s FALLLLLLLLL I tell you!

As you may have deduced, fall is my favorite season. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. I love the (typical) chill in the air, falling leaves, pumpkin EVERYTHING, and Halloween stuff everywhere (finally my music is seasonally appropriate).

Today’s musing is on not being the best–as you probably ascertained from the title. Before I get to that, a few words on my morning ritual.

My morning ritual is fairly drab. I wake up, check Facebook for a while, get tea or coffee or guru energy and some breakfast, and watch some Tales From the Darkside (or something similar) for a little while. Then I get about whatever I need to do that day.

This morning I was perusing Facebook like normal when I came across some very good art by the amazing sakimichan (warning, some of her stuff is NSFW). I perused her awesome art with a feeling that began as awe and became insecurity as I looked.

In my head I was comparing my art to hers. Mine, I felt, would be at home in preschool, while hers belonged in galleries. (The logical part of my brain neglected to toss in that my main career choice is actually writing and I have no real technical training in art.) As I struggled with these feelings, I decided to try painting a character into existence.

Normally I am very line focused. I create a line drawing in pen or digital–pencil I always manage to smudge too much. Then I focus on coloring, shading and all the rest. So, today I started with blobs of paint in a human-ish shape and went from there. One hour later, here was the result:

Blue Experiment
Blue Experiment

Now, this is a far cry from Sakimichan. I was frustrated with myself. I mean really why couldn’t I simply draw something like this:

Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577
Source: http://sakimichan.deviantart.com/art/Sci-Fi-Elf-398195577

Then, I stopped to think about it. My girl looks fairly human, and her hair (which took FOREVER) has an effect I’ve never seen before… I actually decided I liked the drawing. I had challenged myself and created something new–not bad.

I went on with my morning (website updates GALORE today) then hopped over to my patreon to see if anything needed updated. I started looking into other patreon members…and went through basically the same frustrating process as I had with my art. My thoughts went something like: I am broke. My art is not making money. All these other very good people are. My art must suck, or maybe my jokes suck, or maybe…marketing?

My mum is a business type person, I am not. Marketing myself is like some foreign  language that I need a translator for. It doesn’t help that I despise false positivity. I refer to the EVERYTHING IS GREAT WE DO NOT FEEL NEGATIVES EVER culture that pervades corporate reality in my experience. I am not dissing genuine happiness and optimism. Being happy is totally great. So, my brain sort of hisses at words like “marketing” and “branding” and other terms like them when I apply them to myself.

However, I decided to be brave. Maybe my own artistic self was getting in my way. (Read: maybe I didn’t suck as much as I thought.) I looked up web marketing for oneself. It was like a bizarre labyrinth of bright colors, bad web design and BUY BUY BUY NOW NOW NOW. After a few hours, I found very little useful info that common sense and normal internet use wouldn’t provide. In other words, I found NOTHING. I gave it up as a bad job and stared at other people’s patreon pages trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Loading Artist for example is great and funny and living off of his art. (Way to go Loading artist!)

I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing wrong.

I did, however, figure out some interesting things about myself:

1 – I make art for me.

If you are making art only for others, you will quit long before you make any impact on the world. I thought about what would happen if Goth Gal or my other projects never made me a dime. Would I stop doing it?

Nope.

I love making Goth Gal. I make her first and foremost for me. I’m glad I get to share her with everyone else, but I would still make this comic, even if I was the only person on the planet. Maybe that sounds weird, but I’ve been doodling her in notebooks for years now just for me.

2 – I am my only real competition.

I am not competing against the talented Sakimichan, or Loading Artist, or anyone else, not really. I am competing with myself. I try to improve because I want to make the best thing I can possibly make, not because I compare myself to those around me.

I do realize that, as a human being in a world of human beings, there are times I will compare myself to others. That’s okay, as long as I don’t get stuck there. It’s okay as long as it doesn’t poison the passion I have to create, the heart of my creativity you might say. (You can’t spell heart without art, after all.)

3 – I’m not the best and that’s okay.

Artists, Writers, Musicians and others like them are a strange breed. We aren’t so much competing against each other as swimming with each other in the same impossibly large ocean. Learning how to navigate it and survive is difficult, but not impossible.

In other words, I don’t have to be the best, I have to be my best.

That distinction may seem tiny, but to me, it’s the difference between beating myself up with comparisons and being able to enjoy the other artists around me.

After these realizations, nothing external changed. I’m still broke, I still have the exact same problems, I still wonder how to do this thing called life…but now I feel better about it. I can enjoy the swim instead of dragging my fins. As one great fishy once said, just keep swimming.

I hope this helps another fishy out there.

PS – I just published my first set of goth gal comics on the amazon kindle store.

Q1 - Cover

Volume One contains the first 60 comics in high quality format. Visit this link to check it out! Kindle is compatible with PC, Mac, iOS, Android and of course kindle devices. If you have kindle unlimited you can read it for free too! Goth on!

Post Draft One Depression

This was me. Image NOT mine. It belongs to http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com
This was me yesterday.  PS – Image NOT mine. It belongs to http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

Hello.

On Thursday at around 4 am (so technically it was Friday) I finished the novel!

My readers who are also writers are shaking their heads sympathetically, because they think that I actually believe, in my naïveté, that I’m finished, and they know the hardest part is editing. They may even be wondering how they can break the news to me gently.

Don’t worry.

I know I have really only finished the first draft of my novel and now begins the grueling editing process.

Still, an interesting thing happened.

I finished my draft at 4am. I was dancing around the house till 8:30 am, at which point exhaustion (I’d been going for several days by that point) caught up with me. I woke hours later, expecting the euphoric rush to return…no rush came. In fact, quite the opposite happened. A rush of sadness hit, a feeling of “something is missing” permeated, and I did not want to be awake. Apparently my Frankenstein comparison was closer than I realized. I was joking, the metaphor was not.

Every Friday night, well almost, my peeps and I gather at my house. We do many random things that normal people would perhaps not enjoy, but I enjoy it immensely. We have done everything from the mostly normal practicing of watching movies, to filming movies that were very bad to turning the house into a roller rink. Okay, I admit I made that last bit up, but I would do it if I could! (Note: I cannot actually skate. I can barely stand on skates. I skate about as well as a penguin flies… Still, I dream of skating well…someday.)

Sorry, I got lost there for a minute. Back to the topic at hand! One of the lovely peeps joked that my mood was postpartum depression, because I had just given birth to my book baby. I think maybe this is closer to the truth than he realized.

I also made the mistake of watching an amazing, world renowned fantasy story’s film. Then, I made the even larger mistake of comparing my new, unedited, baby book to this polished mammoth of a thing. DO NOT DO THIS.

I repeat, DO NOT DO THIS.

It will make you think your book is the literary equivalent of toilet paper. Which of course, it isn’t. It’s not done yet. It’s still in diapers. It might even be crawling around putting things in it’s mouth. This is okay. This is healthy for the book baby. Let the book baby breathe, explore and stick the shoe in its mouth if it wants to. Make sure to keep an eye on it around the stove though.

Today, after finally getting some sleep, I thought about these things for a while. I also made some changes to my story while some unknown part of my brain put all of these things together.

So, if you are a new author and you think you hate your story. DON’T. Walk away, sleep, see people, do something, eat food, drink coffee (DRINK COFFEE ALWAYS). When you get back to your book baby, you’ll remember why you love it again. Honest. It may take a little while if the stinker had smeared poo all over the walls, but still, give the baby a chance to grow into something better.

We all only get to be young once.

Except me. I am Peter Pan.

Okay, I’m not really Peter Pan, but since when did reality get a say in my life? I hear the baby is crying to be changed with my new-mum ears, apparently it’s time to get back to work.

Keep fighting friends.

Stopping to get Going

Happy Meme Wallpaper 1920x1200 Happy Meme White Background

Hello dear readers.

I missed blogging here last week. I did not even realize my mistake until around Thursday. At which point I decided to wait until today. Consistency is clearly not my strong suit. I had a good reason, which you will soon see…at least I think I had a good reason.

Today’s musing is about stopping to enable one to keep moving forward. (Cue Meet the Robinson’s–epic film.). It sounds like a contradiction. Why would stopping help a person get going? Well, stop for a moment and I shall explain.

The past week has been very unproductive. I just moved and I have tons of boxes that still need sorted, unpacked, dejunked and otherwise seen to. These boxes have for the most part been sitting in storage for 2.5 years waiting for me to move. Now that I’ve moved, they are sitting in my living room in a pile of hugeness. My living room is like a jungle. Even if you can manage to get around Mt. Boxville, the leopard of lethargy may grab the unwary traveller.

I should add that I do not do well with long projects. Give me a task that requires a short burst of energy, I am all over that. Give me a task that is a plodding, drawn out event…I sputter and die. I end up passed out in a corner, awaiting the inevitable end. Yes, I really am that dramatic.

So, what does any of this have to do with stopping to get going?

The past week, as I said, has been VERY unproductive. The past few weeks have actually been very unproductive. It has mostly been spent feeling awful about everything, hating that I seem unable to move things faster, not being able to write, having technical problems and finally languishing in stomach agony as a punishment for eating some cheese (I am very allergic to dairy, but occasionally I will convince myself I am cured and have some…so the dairy gods punish me for my insanity).

I moved in mid April. It was one of those slow awful moves where you have to go in bursts over a few weeks because you can’t afford the normal moving process. Then you have to carefully worry over every nickel and dime so you don’t get stuck halfway. Oh, and you end up moving anything below 200 lbs by yourself or with anyone insane enough to help. By the end of this process, two months later, I was beyond done. I took a week off from everything. I no longer cared. I was done…except I wasn’t. Things still need sorted and dealt with and on and on. The week wasn’t enough. I tried taking it a day at a time. This worked a little, but not nearly enough.

So basically for the last month, I have been trying and failing to push myself hard enough to do much of anything. It was as if the harder I pushed, the less able I was to do what needed doing. I also discovered how fun Skyrim could be–someone gave it to me for a present two years ago and I rediscovered it. This time I actually tried playing in the areas meant for my level and not an insane level dungeon I stumbled into at level 5. I gained 7 levels, but it was not fun. Now, it is SO fun. I want the new Elder Scrolls Online…bwahahaha…Ah, video games…amazing stories and visuals mixed with a you-choose-the-story’s-path…how could I be anything but hooked?

I got distracted there for a moment. The point is, the harder I tried, the more my psyche dug its feet in and refused to move. I accepted its refusal. This week, I stopped trying to force it…and then the strangest thing happened. Suddenly I little by little began starting to move things again and sort things and work on my book in bursts.

I feel like I am coming back to myself after a long absence. This is a nice feeling. The most productive thing I had been able to do consistently up to this point was Goth Gal, and even she had to be put on hold this past Friday due to some technical issues. (She’ll be back tomorrow as that’s all sorted, in case you are wondering.). Now however, I am having ideas again, the writer blood is flowing and my boxes are getting unpacked, as if  by magic.

Because I allowed myself to stop when I needed to, I can now begin to go again. Maybe you are similarly stuck. Maybe you have been pushing and pushing and pulling and pulling, all to no avail. Try stopping and see if it helps you get going.

If it does, or if you have had a similar experience, could you let me know in the comments?

I Was a Weird Kid

a1d

Hello dear readers!

I hope the day went well for you. I mostly moved from wilting spot to wilting spot much like a slug, complaining about the boiling temperature at each spot.

I do not do well with heat. I would much rather be cold than I would hot. I realize for most people this is probably not true, but I am weird. Speaking of weird (Nice transition there, right?), today’s musing is on being weird. I was a VERY weird child. This was due to a number of factors, none of which matter for today’s musing. The point is that I was in fact weird.

I talked by myself…a lot. I liked dead things. I carried around a rubber pterodactyl instead of a fluffy bunny or bear. I adored cats to such an extreme degree that I once followed one into a perfect stranger’s home (I am so sorry perfect stranger.).

No.

I am not going to tell that story right now.

Seriously, no.

Stop looking at me like that.

NO.

Moving on, Where was I? Oh yes, I was WEIRD.

Yesterday I happened across an article that discussed creative types who altered the world (like Steve Jobs) spending time alone and just how important that was. It resonated very strongly with me. It wasn’t until the lovely problems with insanity left a comment on my web comic Goth Gal that this message really clicked and set my wheels spinning. Weird kids = weird adults. Weird adults make art for the weird kids who become weird adults and on and on. Weird is GOOD. Weird is fun and crazy and different. Weird keeps the world going. Weird breaks up the monotony of everyday life. So, here’s to the weird ones, as Apple once said.

PS – I’m moving these weekly posts to Sunday as of next week. Saturday has become too troublesome for me. Hopefully I will have time for longer musings then as well! 🙂

Sometimes I Forget Things

590904138b23446e83f1f7c1cfadc53bf8c769288377384f56a9fc1cd87aaefc

Hello!

I was sitting in my house enjoying a nice breeze when suddenly I realized I forgot to blog yesterday. When this thought successfully burrowed its way into my brain, I rushed over here to write this.

I am of course aware that, despite my slight egomania, you dear readers do not in fact hang on my every word. Probably you did not even notice my absence, unless you per chance happened across something that reminded you of this blog. Even then, it most likely did not cause more than a momentary pause.

So, today I am musing on forgetting. I have more experience with forgetting than most people. I am missing a good portion of my life (about half) to the murky sees of forgetting. Psychologists claim that you actually remember everything. It’s your ability to recall these memories that becomes damaged. I hope to tell this story some day, but not here, not now. Now I want to thank about what happens to one when they lose this ability to recall.

I have heard many times that we are the sum of our experiences. If this is so then what can be said for those who are missing crucial experiences? Does their very absence provide an experience all its own? I think so. Even the memories that are unable to be recalled will work their way into a form of memory. You might feel them physically, or you might for no apparent reason suddenly feel the need to leave a place, or go to a different place.

The mind is an endlessly fascinating creature to me. I once heard that it has more connections in it than stars in the universe. I thought it was a beautiful statement. I since learned that this information is most likely false. I say most likely because all theories that attempt to number the stars are in fact theories. Until we get there, we won’t know for sure how many there are.

I would modify the statement to say that the human brain has more possibility than there are stars in the universe. The stars are (theoretically) finite, the possibilities of the human mind are not. At least, that is what I think. I am sure a legitimate astronomer would be able to clarify my statement with fact, but I don’t believe an astronomer could disprove it entirely.

Speaking of astronomy, a friend and I were recently discussing the fact that we humans are made of stardust. Everything we are is thought to have resided in the heart of a star. This is beautiful and poetic and fascinating all at once. The mad scientist in me wants to examine the stardust, to see what secrets it might hold, even in these forms. The mad artist in me wants to write sonnets immortalizing the beauty of the idea and paint pictures. I think I’ll settle for a cup of coffee now, some sketching today, and some stargazing tonight…unless of course I forget.

Until next time dear readers.

Just A Quick Stop

talesfromthecrypt-cryptkeeper-knives-700x394

Hello kiddies…

My apologies. I seem to be watching far too much Tales From the Crypt.

If you have been with this blog for any amount of time, you may notice this post is late. Truth be told I have been under the weather recently–I watch horror shows and nothing but horror shows when I feel ill. Or read horror books, comics, listen to horror music etc. (you get the idea). As a child I was a lot like Alvin from Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Horror was my LIFE and then adults tried to take it! But I shall tell that story some other time.

Hopefully I’ll be back to my old self soon. Until then I just wanted to stop in and say hi.

Hi.

Also, I just saw Creepshow for the first time. If you like horror, classic E.C. comics or Stephen King, you would probably like this film. The opening credits were all nostalgic for me.

I am going to crawl back into my coffin now to get some rest. (Ok I confess I really don’t have a coffin large enough to sleep in, but I DO have an evil lair!)

Until next time!

When I Do Not Feel Like Writing

e64

Hello.

First, a shout out to Goth Gabi for being the first patron of Goth Gal! Seriously Gabi, your support is SO appreciated! Thanks to you I get to keep making art, and that is really awesome. Goth on Gabi! I promise to try and get my Goth Gal updates out sooner in the day! My eventual goal is that they come out at midnight, but since I don’t make enough to do it full time yet…life blargh.

(Yes, blargh is a word…I just made it up and I am a writer…so it is a word now.)

I do not really feel like writing today, but here I am…writing.

I’ve learned that making myself sit there and write is the best way to actually write. If I allow myself to procrastinate, I could procrastinate indefinitely. There are always other things that need done. I find that my rooms become magically clean when I need to write. I will inevitably come to myself in a haze, moving like a white hurricane through the house. Do not ask me why this is so, but it is so.

These daily project goals (Goth Gal, writing, this blog, etc.) I have are helping me with this problem. Sometimes it is a real struggle to meet these goals, but so far, so good. I have also recently discovered the wonders of eyeliner. This is perhaps a different topic for a different day, but today I will say eyeliner can help make a character REAL. Seriously, it can. Eyeliner is magic.

Soon I will have news for you dear readers about my new “hobby”. I do not have news yet because I have not finished all that I need to do. (SO MANY THINGS I NEED TO DO!) A family affair took over my weekend, but as I have a few moments to myself, I am stopping in to say hi…and to post on Saturdays like I said I would.

Consistency matters to me. Not consistency for the sake itself mind you, consistency for the sake of itself chokes me like weeds choke out a baby flower. Consistency for a project, to learn something new, or for people you care about matters. That kind of consistency has some life to it. Something that makes it more than a mere structure.

Well, I am off now to work some more. Hopefully I will have more to say next time. Until then bonsoir!