Trying to make my prices a little more easy-to-calculate and a little less “pulled a number out of Buster’s shell.” 😀 Subscribers to my Patreon get a 5% discount.
When not at conventions, I can still sell the books and buttons but they’re easier to get through their respective publishers:
Skip a week for the holidays, and suddenly I have a billion things to talk about! Let’s jump right in!
So you remember I wasn’t satisfied with the “Three Lions and an Otter” motif because it was too close to M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Three Jaguars?” Sure ya do, it’s like the next post down from here. Anyway! I happened to be looking at my LinkedIn page and noticed a little thing I had dropped into my bio: “I’m all about bringin’ the awesome.”
Well… yeah. 😀
So that’s gonna be my thing. Expect a lot more bringin’ the awesome in 2017! The three lions and an otter are still there– they’re how I organize my workflow and my thoughts– but they’ll probably fade into the background a bit.
Commission Price Reorganization
My last price list update was in the summer and was pretty vague and incomplete. Pricing your own art is always tough– it’s kinda like a magic trick, and knowing how it’s done makes you forget the work and practice that actually went into it. I was told by a few artists I respect that I was undercharging, and I think it may have actually been hurting my sales, if the table at Midwest Furfest is an indicator.
So this is a heads-up, my prices will be going up a bit later this month, but they’ll also be more clearly defined, so it’ll be easier to look at what I offer, compare it to your budget, and decide what’s right for you.
“Learn To Use Copics” Sale!
Also! Part of my holiday splurge was to pick up something I’ve wanted for a while now: I bought myself twenty shiny new Copic markers, and I’m itching to learn how to use them! So in a week or two I’m going to open up slots for full-color real-media commissions at a crazy discount price, with the proviso that your piece will be a guinea pig for Copic practice, so the colors might be a little all-over-the-map. XD
Streaming Is a Thing!
So I have settled on Tigerdile as my streaming service of choice, and they’ve been pretty great so far. They’ve been responsive and friendly, and the site has a lot of nice features, with more coming in the new year. I’ll be streaming pretty regularly on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday nights, starting around 7:30 p.m. EST, working on commissions, the next comic page, or whatever else happens to be going on at any given time.
Phew! I think that’s everything for now? If not, I’ll let you know. 😉 Thanks for reading, and stay awesome!
Yeah, 2016 pretty much blew chunks in a lot of ways. Thing is, it started out so well! I thought 2014 was the worst things were going to get, 2015 was the beginning of an upward climb, and that 2016 was going to be awesome. Then everything went pear-shaped, starting with our moving plans. Then Buddha died... and from there it was a nearly-unrelenting sea of crap that culminated in the Worst Possible Result in the election. I used to joke about not wanting to live in 1930s Germany. I don't joke about that any more.
For the record, some good things DID happen in 2016, and there's evidence that 2017 will be better. So even though things have been rough, just wallowing in it isn’t going to help. Since the end of November, I have been making a concerted effort to wedge positivity back into my life by any means possible, and it is working, even if there is a lot of resistance from a world determined to set itself on fire. But more on that in the Goals for 2017 part of the post. For now, let's review the goals I set at the beginning of the year.
- Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Partial success. Issue four is out and issue five is running currently, after moving and story development heck. This will be finished in early 2017, assuming all goes well.
- Publish That Book! Still working on it. I've received a fair amount of positive feedback from the various agents etc. I've shopped it around to, but so far it hasn't found a home. I'm going to keep at it until it sells or I run out of potential markets. If it gets to that point, I'll look at self-publishing.
- Finish Another Book! Didn't happen. Had to punt mid-NaNoWriMo, but I'll get back to it in 2017.
- Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Didn't happen. Despite being a very strong candidate, lythandra went to trainings and applied for jobs and talked to headhunters and out of all that got a few tiny nibbles and only one offer– which was immediately cancelled a few days later due to the contract being disputed. I hung out my shingle as a freelance/tech writer but so far have spent most of my time on that front turning down such lucrative offers as "Write ten full length novels for us to sell without giving you any residuals or credit for $35,000/year." So, still living on savings and what income the comics and art bring in, but we have plans in motion. (See below.)
- Move. Um. Happened, yes. But not the way we wanted. It needs fixing still/again.
- Get Back to Conventions! Eh... sort of. AC and MFF happened again. We also went to a steampunk meet in PA, but we had to punt on FurTheMore and Dragon*Con for financial and/or scheduling reasons. I expect 2017 to be different, however.
- Stronger faster slimmer better. Big setbacks here. Depression, stress, and a host of other factors meant that in six months I regained all the weight it had taken me two years to get rid of. :P I am not happy about this. The good news is that at the end of November I rejoined Weight Watchers and I have recovered 11 pounds' worth of progress since then, despite the best efforts of convention food and holidays. More significantly I have figured out how to live comfortably on a 35-ish point diet– basically the allocation for someone my age weighing 220 lbs. At my current rate of weight loss, I will hit that in six months, which would suit me just fine.
- No More Afib. Success! Heart ablation surgery was a complete success. Since March, I have only experienced afib twice, both of which were in December and seem to have been triggered by salt. As long as I continue to limit my salt intake, I should be set.
- Bernie Sanders 2016. Ugh. Don't get me started.
Now the review post from last year had unexpected things achieved in 2015. Alas, 2016 didn't really have a lot in the way of such things. However, it wasn't entirely bleak. Zootopia was really good, for instance. Also, I got into Overwatch and a fan very kindly built me a terrific computer to run it on, which prompted me to create the Learning Not to Suck at Overwatch series. It didn't exactly set YouTube on fire, but the videos were fun to make and I got to test my mettle in a competitive environment, something which I've never done a lot of. Overwatch also provided my single longest running batch of art commissions, in the form of "Play of the Game" badges. My Overwatchery has been thin since Halloween– other priorities eating my time– but I hope to get back into it in January.
So that leads me to my goals for 2017...
- Issues Five and Six, Plus the First Collection. Five and collection should be done well before AnthroCon. Issue Six, we'll see. I’m thinking of taking the comic in a slightly new direction based on the ending of Issue Five, but that's still in the very half-baked stage so I can't really go into detail yet.
- Publish That Book! Like I said, still working on this.
- Finish Another Book! I am looking at creating a series specifically for self-pub. More on that as the development fills out some more.
- Start a Company. This is a big one that Laurie and I have been messing with off and on again all year, but which is really starting to take shape now. Again, I don't want to talk about it in too much detail before everything is set in motion, all the T's are dotted and I's are crossed, etc., but it's a cool, exciting project designed to put the making of money back into our hands, since getting hired by other people doesn't seem to be a thing that really happens to anyone any more.
- Move to California. Okay. So. I thought this was going to happen last year, but for various reasons I kept fairly quiet about it at the time, and then it fell through anyway. It's back on the plan now, and I am not keeping it a secret any more. The exact details are still being hashed out, so you can expect to hear more on this as the year goes on. But part of the reason for the Start a Company item, is to enable living where we want, and since Fed jobs are going to all be utter crap for the next four years or more as the assholes-elect try to burn down the country, there's not a whole lot of point in staying around here for the job market anyway. Our families and some of our friends are here, of course, but we only see them a few times a year as it is– Facetime/Google Hangouts and plane tickets will probably take care of that problem. California is not necessarily the only candidate, we're also looking at some spots around New England for instance, but it is by far the strongest candidate and my top choice unless there is a strongly compelling reason to go elsewhere.
- Stronger faster slimmer better. 220 lbs by end of September is the plan. 220 lbs by end of June is the stretch goal.
- Bring the Awesome! I was just getting through my grief about my parents when Buddha died, kicking it all off again. I spent most of 2016 in a depression deeper than anything I’ve been through since 2001, although instead of manifesting as "feeling bad," it was more like an emotional dead zone, making it hard to enjoy anything and leaving me in a constant state of "peeved and grouchy for no good reason." That shit's got to go. As I said, since the end of November I've been focusing on positivity, and I'm just going to build on that and do more in 2017.
- Edit Myself Less. This one is kind of hard to explain without context and it's more a note to myself than anything. There are aspects of myself that I have simply made a point of not talking about for one reason or another; opinions, feelings, or wishes I have kept to myself when it would have been appropriate to share them, and so on. But honestly? It's not doing myself or the people who care about me any favors. I've had people tell me "I thought I knew you..." before for just this reason. And while I'm a lot more myself now than I used to be, I still get into that self-censorship habit when I’m depressed or afraid. This is something I need to work on. Shoving every thought in your head into other people's faces isn't a good idea– but shutting yourself down just to please other people isn't a healthy choice either. I'm not about to start drawing porn or anything like that, but I am going to be loosening up.
- Reverse course and mitigate/repair damage to the country. Grassroots action FTW. They're not going to burn down the country while I have anything to say about it. More on this in some other post.
jamesbarrett's sister Kimmie said that 2016 was the end of a 9-year cycle, which is why there were so many deaths and endings and so much loss, but that also meant that 2017 would be a year of new beginnings.  While astrology and numerology are not my particular flavor of crackpottery, I can’t deny that 2016 sure has felt like everything was crumbling around my ears. Not going to California when we originally planned to, which pushed us into the Maryland move, and the death of Buddha all hit me hard. Seeing the end of the first administration in my life that I actually liked the President was going to be tough; seeing him replaced by somebody so obviously The Worst Possible Candidate For the Job just hurts.
But these things all happened and can't be undone. I've had my disappointment and my grief and my rage. While there may be emotional aftershocks, the end of November made a sea change in Laurie and me, and I am excited and ready for the things we’ve got coming up in the year ahead. If 2017 is indeed the year of new beginnings, let's make it the beginning of something amazing.
 This is based on numerology: 2016 breaks down to 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9. 2017 will be 2 + 0 + 1 + 7 = 10, 1 + 0 = 1. Thus 2016 is the end of the current cycle and 2017 is the beginning of the next one.
So one thing that was made quite clear at the most recent Midwest Furfest is that I’ve really gotta get back in touch with the fandom. Suburban Jungle used to mean room parties and charity auction cameos going for hundreds of dollars, but this past weekend it seemed to be “That comic everybody used to know and remembers fondly.”
Dude. What am I, the Animaniacs? XD Nostalgia is not my brand!
Seriously tho, I think a lot of the problem is that as time has gone on, I’ve just gotten out of touch. I met plenty of people at the convention who’d never heard of me or my work, but upon seeing the art were instantly interested in checking it out. So clearly what I’ve got to do is get it front of more eyeballs!
To that end, I’m working on a retool of my online presence generally, looking for new venues to spread the word and so on. Besides the usual DeviantArt and FurAffinity accounts, I’m going to start posting more of my work on my Tumblr account (which has until now been little more than reblogs), I created a Pinterest board for my art, and I have (finally) started dipping my toes into groups on Telegram.
Sometime by the end of the year I expect to also start streaming fairly regularly on Monday and/or Tuesday nights as I work on the next comic page. Right now I’m still researching that, looking for artists with successful streams and watching what they do. (If you have faves, let me know! I want to see ALL THE STREAMS.)
As a general thing, I also just sorta need to get back out into the world. Over the past years I had kinda retreated into a cocoon as I dealt with the slings and arrows being fired at me by outrageous fortune, and I’m finally sticking my head back out. (What did I find? 2016. For cryin’ out loud, world, I hide away for just a few years, and you turn into a dumpster fire? I want you to go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done while the rest of us clean up this mess.)
…Er, sorry, what was I saying? Right, getting back in touch with the world. I’ve got a few volunteers who are helping me with that, and I’ll gratefully take any assistance I can get, but nothing replaces me getting out there and taking care of it myself. I need to do a lot more connecting with the world than just posting to LiveJournal and Twitter, and that’s going to be a big priority for me over the next several weeks.
If anyone has ideas on what I should do, I’d love to hear them! 😀
down 5 lbs from my highest weight of 319.5 on November 25, 2016
down 4.5 lbs from my starting weight of 319 on July 1, 2014
average lost: 0.03 lbs/week
next milestone: 303 lbs (5% loss)
In anticipation of convention eating being problematic at best, I made a point of going lean and rigorously exercising in the week leading up to it. And while I was at MWFF, I tried to make good choices when possible, without obsessing on it. But the unavoidable truth is that in hotels in Chicago? Your dietary choices start at a baseline of "terribad" and go up from there– and there's only so many $5 fruit cups you can snack on.
Also, Friday was so bad (Did I post about this? I don't remember now.) that to cheer myself up I said, "Screw it, I'm having a piece of cheesecake because I love cheesecake and never have it."
Points-wise, I still ended the week ahead of the game by virtue of doing ALL the walking, and so even with four days of junk food I still lost a pound. XD It's a minor victory, but it's a victory all the same, and I'll take it.
Anyway, I'm back home now, and ready to kick butt. For the coming week, I'm going to call 312 a success and 310 my stretch goal. Wish me luck!
As you may have heard, yesterday was a rough day, art wise. It was in fact my worst convention day in 16 years of being a furry artist. After a full day at the table in Artist Alley (usually where I do best at Midwest Furfest), I had received a total of one commission, and sold one button. My daily total was less than the person next to me was charging (and receiving) for a print.
It was... odd. I had people stop and say hello, some of whom had fond memories of having read Suburban Jungle in the past, and others who saw the comics for the first time and loved the art style. But then they walked away and bought art from someone else.
By the time the room closed, I was in a state of exhausted disbelief. As I put it at the time, "Furry fandom, did I do something to you that I just don't know about?" Even my earliest fledgeling attempts to run a table before Kerry joined the scene were never this pitiful.
But then a strange thing happened; after the room closed, people started wanting commissions. XD My friend Axiom asked for badges, and one of my online readers who has friends attending the con commissioned me on Twitter with the intent of sending them to pick them up at my table today. It wasn't a huge pile of work, but it was something at least, and a nice pump-primer for what will hopefully be a good day today.
It was a weird day. XD And one that I'm not eager to repeat– the gut-punched feeling I had wandering around after the table closed was not a healthy mindspace– but at the end of the day I was reminded that I am lucky to have friends and fans, and I am going to keep making stuff as awesome as I can.
Three Good Things For Today
- Wrote almost all of a novel summary for NaNoWriMo. Still needs the last act and chapter/scene breakdowns, but I think I may have the workings of a real book here. ^.^
- Submitted dealer table application for AnthroCon.
- Actually put up a (very small) Suburban Jungle update for tomorrow.
- Bonus Good Thing! TwitterPonies fun. :)
Three Goals For Tomorrow
- Find and apply for three jobs.
- Finish novel summary.
- Resolve prescriptions weirdness.
G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3
Hey, hey! Every once in a random period, I put up a little post welcoming my new readers and keeping everyone abreast of what’s coming up!
Welcome New Readers!
<3 <3 <3
…Not a lot more to say about that, actually. Got questions? Comments? Suggestions? I’d love to hear ’em, in the comments or via e-mail (thegneech at gmail dot com)! I’d also love to know how you came to be here. Suburban Jungle? Are you a Twitter follower? WHOOOO ARRRRRE YOOOOU?
Suburban Jungle Issue Five!
The cover is up! I’m going start drawing pages this week, with my current plan being for the issue to begin running September 5. I’m not going to set that date into stone yet tho, just in case things randomly go pear-shaped, as they have a tendency to do around here.
Sky Pirates of Calypsitania and NaNoWriMo
There is some hopeful activity on the novel front! Alas, I can say no more for fear of jinxing it, but I am excited and hope it works out! In the meantime, I am working on an outline for a sequel novel, under the working title of Eternal Promises, with an eye towards writing the actual manuscript (or at least large chunks of it) over the course of NaNoWriMo. (Which means, among other things, I need to get as much of issue five done as possible by the end of October!) Eternal Promises will finally bring the intended-but-never-produced first story from Arclight Adventures to the light of day, which makes me happy.
Overwatch Play of the Game Badges and Videos
There are only a few badge commissions left, but I do have a complete “Victory Poses Plus Badges” group commission that I will be trying to finish over August and September. (Because let’s face it, I won’t be drawing enough, right? ¬.¬ ) I only have footage for one more Learning Not to Suck at Overwatch video right now, which will probably go up sometime this week, but I imagine that series will be going for a bit longer. I’d love to know what (if anything) people think of it, beyond the obvious “There’s a watermark on the video and your microphone is wonky.” Think of those elements as… uh… charmingly kitschy? I don’t have the budget to fix them at the moment. 😉
My next convention will be Midwest Furfest in December, where you should be able to find me in the Artist Alley most of the time. Due to budget constraints, I am currently trying to find someone to take over my Dragon*Con room; if that doesn’t happen, it’s entirely possible I’ll end up going to that as well, even though I really can’t afford it, on the grounds that the money is committed so I might as well enjoy it.
So that’s the State of the Gneech at the moment. Busy, busy, busy, but creating a lot of stuff that I hope you’ll check out and enjoy. Life is good.
Given that I have been operating on poor sleep, trying to bang out content as quickly as I can while coping with moving (again) and a broken toe, AnthroCon went quite well. ^.^' It was great as always to see Sirfie, Andrew, Kamau, Inkblitzer, T'Chall, Tieran, Zia, Spiritwolf (briefly), and all my other usual con besties, plus meeting new folks. Sales were strong on Friday, dead on Saturday (probably a symptom of the out-of-control parade), and decent on Sunday. The Play of the Game badges were a hit, which is a good thing, because a fair amount of the sales I made were for post-con commissions of them, rather than stuff at the table. If I'd stuck to my usual policy of "no post-con commissions," it would have been another year of lackluster numbers.
I'm not sure where that puts me in terms of future cons. I'm making mid-2000's money with mid-2010's expenses, which means I'm still slightly ahead of the game but travel takes more of a toll than it used to and as fewer of my old pals go to cons, the less of a party from start to finish it all becomes. Plus, there is a definite generational shift: the time of the internet being a haven for techy people and ham radio nerds from the Radio Shack era is over, and a more mainstream audience is moving in. When Gilbert and Sullivan references and jokes about object permanence go over the audience's head, it's a lot harder for me to relate. It's not "You kids get off my lawn!" so much as "Wow, I need to figure out how to get with it."
Anyway, here are a few more random notes from the con for my own future reference:
- Needed more business cards. Usually people don't want 'em. This time I ran out. Go fig. I also need cards WITH THE COMIC ON THEM.
- The more "general geekdom" buttons moved better than the furry ones. Again, go fig. Gaming jokes and the snarky buttons were the order of the day.
- As issues and button designs build up, table real estate is becoming a real issue. I was seriously encroaching on Sirfie's space this time, even tho he was very gracious about it. Is there some kind of vertical display option for the buttons? And I need to take that magazine rack.
- The "beachy decor" effect of the crates is lost when they're just covered up with signs and displays anyway. Some kind of lighter and easier-to-tote display is required.
- Standing poster! Instead of the full-size Tiffany banner, free-standing poster displays are more effective and probably easier to schlep around, while still creating a high-impact look. Smaller banners that could hang on the display (a la LizardBeth's banner) are also a good option. The chalkboards/whiteboards are still good options as well but will need some way to be mountable. (The velcro works on the crates, but will it work on wire displays?)
- How do I improve my at-the-table art so I can charge more? I'm almost never happy with my real media work and feel cheesy charging rates that make the time invested worth it. Short of taking laptop, tablet, and inkjet printer to the con to do digital art at the table, how do I address this?
- AnthroCon's dealer room has become so immense and diffused. I get lost in the crowd! Would I do better at smaller cons?
BronyCon and... Blugh!
Usually after a con I tend to have a period I refer to as "con bounce," where I'm all excited and energized and I want to Do All the Things! This time, alas, not so much, or at least, what there is, has been delayed. The week immediately following the con was largely spent recuperating, which I blame mostly on the heat, bad sleep, and gimping around Pittsburgh on a broken toe. I was mostly better by Friday, but lythandra came down with a nasty stomach bug and was incommunicado while a very kind fan came over and dropped a crazy gaming rig on my head.
On Saturday, Laurie was feeling better so we headed over to Baltimore to do a bit of ghosting at BronyCon. I have somewhat mixed feelings about "brony" fandom generally, but I gotta say I was much more impressed by this one than by the last one I attended. Nevertheless, the trip was draining for both of us– Laurie because she was recovering from her stomach bug, and me because... well, I was coming down with her stomach bug. -.-
Sunday's activities are best left without elaboration. Suffice to say it was not a good day, and now I need to eat some yogurt. ¬.¬
Do All the Things!
So yesterday and today are all about recovery, and reclaiming my con bounce. And just in time, too, 'cos I have to do All the Things. Look at all the things I have to do!
- Play of the Game Badges:
RJ, Salen,Snowdrift, Jell-O Blue, Gryphon_2.
- Other Post-Con Commissions: Lia, Redliox
- Write issue five
- Continue marketing Sky Pirates (six rejections down, ____ to go)
- Come up with and start writing another book
- Get my medical insurance sorted (again)
- Get followup x-rays on my toe
- Find some way to get D&D happening again
- Mail Kamau's power strip back to him
...And that's just Tuesday. ¬.¬
Okay, I exaggerate, some of that can go to Wednesday if it has to. ¬.¬
Point is, I've got a lot to do, and I can't do it if I'm a) lying around listening to my insides gurgle, or b) moping. So that con bounce is badly needed!
Where My Ponies At?
A vaguely-related thread to some of the points made above is a seismic shift taking place in the TwitterPonies and pony fandom generally. Every fandom has a life cycle, and as the show "finishes" more and more threads, a certain sense of "winding down" becomes inevitable. I have many thoughts and feelings about this, which I am going to have to let brew for another post, I think. But I will say that one of the reasons I have been cultivating other interests (e.g., Overwatch) is that I think we are nearing the point where MLP is going to return to its pre-FIM status as one of the many quiescent-but-everpresent "background fandoms" like Lion King or Sailor Moon, except a little more prominently than its previous standing... at least until the 2021 reboot.
C'est la vie!
AnthroCon was cool and fun and a con; it wasn't the best one ever, but it was far from the worst one either. It was a fairly condensed con, in that I didn't do a lot of going around to see and hang out with people, or ranging all over Pittsburgh for weird dinner events. It was pretty much "sit at the table all day, hang out in the Zoo at night."
Sales were quite good on Friday. Saturday was almost completely flat (which I blame mostly on the Parade That Wouldn't Die), and Sunday picked up a bit. The net result was a solid but unspectacular con business-wise. That's a slight uptick from the "disappointing" trend the cons have had for the past few years, so I'll take it. :)
There was no major discernible trend this year; there was some Zootopia stuff of course, but nowhere near as much as I expected, and a few folks doing stuff with Overwatch besides me, but no obvious "Year of the Ponies" or "Everything Undertale" moments.
So, like I say, a good con. And that was the last major thing on my agenda until Dragon*Con, so... all that "stuff I will take care of after AnthroCon"? You're up next.
Starting tomorrow. ¬.¬
From the “Ideas I Wish I’d Had a Month Before AnthroCon Instead of Two Days” Department…
Yeah, so, Overwatch has been eating my brain. ^.^’ What can I say, it’s an awesome game! So I want an excuse to do art related to it. 😉 Badges! Who doesn’t love badges?
But yeah, the flyer pretty much says it all. $30 gets a glossy photo-quality printed badge in holder mailed anywhere in the U.S., or $25 gets a high-res file so you can print out your own. And if you’re one of my Patreon supporters you get $10 off!
To claim one, you can leave a comment here, or you can e-mail me via thegneech at gmail dot com. Gamsa!
Three Good Things For Today
- Got prints and price signs ready for AC
- Watched Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean w/ lythandra
- Cart time with AJ
Three Goals For Tomorrow
- Find/pitch agents, which didn't get done today
- Organize desk
- Pack AC merch
Gnite world, have an awesome tomorrow. :)
Three Good Things For Today
- Got some initial brainstorming done on new book idea.
- Had fun playing Overwatch.
- Watched first episode of the Ace Attorney anime series and worked out a series queue on CrunchyRoll.
- Bonus Good Thing! Yummy dinner at La Sándia, followed by Barnes & Noble and acquisition of new book.
- Bonus Good Thing! Caught up with my Good Things posts– including this one. ;)
Three Goals For Tomorrow
- Identify 1-3 more agents and pitch Sky Pirates to same.
- Examine feasibility of Fortress of Tears as book or series.
- Price sign for AC table.
- Bonus Goal! AJ cart?
I gotta say, my fingertips are burning for the new PC, mainly so I can have a stable platform for playing Overwatch on. I am actually finding myself quite eager to try to get into competitive play, which I would have never guessed I'd want in on. What has this game done to me??? XD
Anyway, that's it for tonight. G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3
Anyway, all week I've had as a to-do item "Three Good Things" post. But what's been happening is that at night I'm fighting to force myself to go to bed much against my will, which means I don't have a "wind down" routine so much as a "knock myself down" routine... and so the "Good Things" post doesn't happen because it's 2 a.m. and I have been trying to make myself go to bed for hours.
I blame Overwatch. :P But that's for another discussion.
So I decided that today I would simply list a ton of good stuff that's happened to me recently, in no particular order, and with no numerical limit. Most of this is very personal/self-centered stuff rather than any sort of "greater good," but that's okay. Sometimes things that are just good for me, are good enough.
- The weather has been crazy nice for most of May/June. This sounds trivial, but given the strong correlation between my energy level/mood and sunny days, it's a lot bigger than it may seem. It's weird, I can sometimes wake up and somehow know, just from how bleah I feel, that it's a cloudy day outside.
- I've been having fun playing Overwatch. This is a little more of a mixed bag because I've also been very frustrated with my computer trying to play Overwatch. The thing crashes five times out of six tries, and I don't currently have the funds to replace it. XD So it can be kind of frustrating to spend 50 minutes rebooting for every 10 minutes playing, but when the computer gets into a long "working" streak, Overwatch is a lot of fun. This leads to my next item...
- People are being super-generous about helping with the computer problem. A fan who prefers to remain anonymous is upgrading his own computer to a super-high-end model and basically giving me most of his previous one, which is still a giant step up from the one I'm currently using. All I have to provide is a copy of Windows and a video card, and that I can afford to do. ^.^ He's currently talking about handing it off to me at BronyCon, which is July 9-10. Another friend has given me a full license for Team Fortress 2, on the grounds that Overwatch is basically a newer version of that, to play in the meantime. XD
- Finished issue four! It'll be at AnthroCon! Rough Housing is starting to build up a body of work finally. ^.^
- AnthroCon is next weekend! I get to see a bunch of my furry pals and do arts and get commissions and stuff!
- We're moved! We've got the furniture all in place, curtains up and art on the walls. There's still settling in to be done, especially in the office and library because we don't use those rooms as much, but we do at least have the beginnings of a home going on.
- My heart ablation surgery was a complete success! I haven't had any afib since March, and as of this week, I am off the heart meds. In as much as afib ever gets "cured," this is it.
- My toe is healing nicely. I did cringe a bit when the doctor said it might need a pin, but then the x-rays came back that the joint was fine and that all I have to do is keep taping it up and wearing this silly shoe-brace-thing for a few more weeks. I'll probably be alternating between it and a regular shoe at AC, particularly for driving and/or if the weather is rainy.
- This video. Just... this video.
So... yeah. Some good stuff has been happening. I'm sure there's more than I've remembered to post here, but I am a lion of little brain and things fall out of it a lot. I'm going to try to be more regular about posting good things on a regular basis, but that requires not fighting to force myself to go to bed. So... we'll see. ;P
How so? For starters, this is the first year in several in which the number of friends I have at the end is higher than the number of friends I had at the beginning, instead of the other way around. Not only did none of my close friends or family die this year, but I made new friends! And that is worth more than words can express.
2015 was also a very mixed bag news-wise, and I won't pretend it wasn't. But something huge happened this year that I don't want to forget:
It doesn't impact me personally, but it changes the shape of the world for many people I love, and it wasn't something I would have ever guessed would happen in my lifetime. Whenever I start to worry about the state of the nation, I remember that this happened, and hope returns. The U.S.A. can be a great nation, when we summon up the courage.
As for my own personal year, many of my plans were all gang aft agley, and many of the best things that happened were things I didn't expect at all. Looking back at my goals...
- Sell the House and Move Already: Did that. Ambivalent about the results. I don't like The Staircase even half as much as I liked The Hobbit Hole, even at half the price and twice the liquidity. But this was always (as Doodles the Great put it) a Rebound House, and we'll be out of here as soon as possible. I'm hoping for spring.
- Bring in $13k Income: I haven't run the numbers, so I don't know if I did this or not, but my guess is "not even close" even with the Starbucks job.
- Four Issues of Rough Housing: Three and progress. Issue four was disrupted by a novel. More on that below, but issue four is under construction and will start running next week, so this item is still on the boards.
- Get Dungeons & Denizens Rolling: Didn't happen. Between Greg and myself both kinda stalling and/or getting caught up in other things, the project has just sorta languished. I'm not sure we wouldn't be better off to just put it to bed and move on to something else.
- Continue to Lose Weight: This is a weird one. I got down into the 270's, but have drifted back up to 288.9 as of this morning. But I am slimmer and more toned than I have ever been. Am I gaining muscle mass? I dunno. Unfortunately, last month Weight Watchers ditched their useful and achievable model in order to become just another "live on fumes and exercise 26 hours/day" bullshit plan that is just as doomed to failure as the rest. So I expect I'll be dumping my membership. I'm grateful for what it taught me about which foods were good and which ones were bad, as well as for the progress it helped me make over the past two years, but clearly it's time to move on.
- Keep Flossing Them Teeth: This is a pretty set habit for me these days. :)
So what did I achieve that wasn't on my list?
- Novel and a Half! I wrote the Airship Pirates novel! And in all honesty, I think it's a very good novel. The next step on that front is hunting for publisher/agent. I was planning to devote December to that, but the Starbucks job interfered; once I actually get to work on that, however, I fully expect it to move quickly. The other half novel was the revised outline for the Brigid and Greg novel, which I was making huge progress on until the house sale and move bumped it to the back burner.
- Reincarnation/Meditation/LoA I don't even know what prompted me to start going down this path, and I've barely scratched the surface of what I've been doing here in my LJ "reincarnation reports," but the experience has been something akin to this:
Part of the reason I haven't talked about it all is that is it's such an intensely personal experience that I can't really describe it in words that don't utterly fail to get it across. Another part of it is that a lot of it falls squarely into the realm of crackpottery, and I have better things to do with my time than fend off a legion of tiresome snarky and dismissive comments from the usual suspects. So I will just say that over the past few months I've felt happier and more centered than I have at any other time I can remember, and I have been seeing results in the "real world" all around me. I'm very pleased with this development and intend to continue!
So that's the year that was. Although it didn't up being as big a year of going big as I was expecting, it was still a good year and movement in the right direction!
So what are my goals for 2016?
- Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Rough Housing is going to continue, and I think this year it's finally going to come into its own. The first collected volume will carry issues one through four, for which I'm going to go back and do some cleanup of continuity, some revisions of the character design, and some generalized fixing of things.
- Publish That Book! I have a terrific novel that only five people have read. This needs fixing. ;)
- Finish Another Book! Whether it's Brigid and Greg, a second Sky Pirates book, or even Charlie Providence, we'll see.
- Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Some of this is dependent on lythandra's new job, which is currently floating just on the other side of a probability wave and should be appearing at any time; but I also want to be bringing in proper money myself and– and this is the important part– I want to be doing it with my real work, the writing and comics, and not with some phony-baloney day job I took just for the cash. My creations are valuable, and it's time they started earning what they're worth!
- Move. We need to live in a place we like. This is not negotiable. I'm still California dreaming, but I'm not going to fixate on that. I believe in incremental improvement, so even just being in an apartment/house with enough room and some sunshine will be considered a success. A roomy craftsman rambler in Santa Cruz would be a slam dunk, tho. ;)
- Get Back to Conventions! This is something of a sub-set of the money thing. I only worked two conventions this year, AC and MFF, because my plate was so full of other things. (Technically I did attend FC this year, but I always think of FC as being part of the year leading up to it. So, FC was a 2014 thing, even if it did happen in 2015.) But we're already on lock to go to Dragon*Con next year, and of course I'll at least be doing AC and MFF again. I'd like to do AwesomeCon, and I want to find more cons to go to.
- Stronger faster slimmer better. I don't get this whole "weight staying the same waistline shrinking" thing, but I'm not going to complain about it. While I'm in considerably better shape than I was last year or the year before, I'm not quite ready for Speedos yet. I want to get there this year.
- No more afib. Heart chakra's opened up. My "love being blocked" problem is opening up and going away. If the afib was a physical symptom of that (and I suspect it may have been), hopefully that means I'm done with it as well.
- Bernie Sanders 2016! Workin' on it. :)
For the moment at least, I think that covers most of it. If I've forgotten something, please let me know!
This being an awesome tune, I wanted to make a note of it and knew I wouldn't remember the name. As it was, I could barely hold onto it long enough to fire up Siri and give her the instruction: "Remember Skeewiff Flanger!"
With a completely straight face (or the android equivalent thereto), Siri replied, "Okay, I'll create a reminder to ski with blender."
Now I have a cartoon in my head of Comfort, skiing down the side of a mountain, holding a blender over her head like a trophy. Nice one, Siri.
Starbucks Moments: The Day Santa Liked My Muttonchops
On Monday, a man who I am pretty sure was Santa Claus in his civilian clothes came into the store looking flustered and somewhat lost, but upon seeing me (looking not too different from the icon for this post) immediately brightened up and said, "I love your facial hair!"
To which I replied with a thank you and proceeded to show him how the Starbucks smartphone app works because, being Santa, it's all still pretty new to him.
A woman also complimented my haircut-and-muttonchops combo tonight, saying that "It really worked." So apparently it does!
And now, back to prepping for my MFF flight. *kermitflails!*
…That didn’t sound right. ¬.¬
Anyway! I’ll be at Midwest Furfest starting tomorrow! My plan is to get into the Artist Alley whenever I can, where I’ll be doing badges and sketches and have a smattering of books and buttons (mainly what I can carry with me to and from every day, up to what they’ll allow).
Come see me! Get some art! We’ll chat, we’ll schmooze, I’ll have my people call your people. It’s all good.
-The Gneech 😎
Post SJ to FA
- Transfer funds for the rent
- Laundry (if applicable)
- Gather and pack artist alley materials
- Pens and markers
- Badge stock
- Cash box
- iPad & Square Reader
- Gather and pack clothes & other items
- AJ/Coloratura scene in the TP if possible Punt! Alas. :(
Go to work :P
...Was there anything else? I can't remember. :P
It's also clear from people's reactions that they enjoy the story much more an issue at a time, rather than as the relatively slow trickle of one page a week. There's only so much I can do about that, what with being a one-person production crew, but I do have some ideas.
However, AC did reaffirm my commitment to keeping the comic up and running, even if it's going to do some evolving. Issue four is going to be a bit more personal, with the characters learning about each other and (hopefully) themselves, as they start to pull together behind the common cause of saving the Rough House. It's also going to have more Roxie, who always makes me happy to write and draw. ^.^
Mixed into all this is the issue of lythandra's unemployment, and my subsequent decision to go find a conventional day job. This has been weighing heavily on my mind, to the point where I had something dangerously close to an anxiety attack/depressive meltdown last night. The truth is that I really don't want to resort to that, all my best efforts to convince myself it would be fine notwithstanding. I may not have a choice, and I need to find a way to get over that. I don't want to go back to drawing until 1:00 a.m. and then dragging myself to work at 8:00 a.m. But "not drawing" is not an option, and not working may not be either.
It's a thorny problem. Every aptitude, personality, and career-planning test ever says that I should be a writer or an artist way at the top of the list, teacher a distant second, and anything else a far distant third. However, I have a minimum comfort level (which The Staircase falls painfully short of) and financial insecurity makes it really hard for me to concentrate and be productive. In short, not just my ideal but pretty much my only suitable career is "Creator who has already made it big." That would be fine if I were in synch with mainstream tastes and could spit out books like Grisham or someone. But what do I create? Squeaky clean furry comics. Even among the fringe, I manage to be among the fringe. :P Being able to say I was a hipster before it was cool is scarcely adequate compensation.
Granted, there are worse problems to have, and I'm grateful to be in a position where I have any kind of freedom of choice at all. Right now I'm just trying to figure out how to maximize that, and to leverage it into getting to a situation where I can live and be happy and still manage to do some good in the world.
To that end, it's time for me to get to work. Catcha later. :)
PS: Many thanks to everyone who had kind comments re: my last post and the "awesome" thing. You're way kinder to me than I deserve, but I am grateful nonetheless!