This year was a weird one for me. There were a lot of things that happened and then, well, a lot of things that didn’t.
Here’s my year in review:
Professionally, it seemed like things were moving forward, while moving backwards or staying the same at the same time. The biggest thing, of course, was Americus finally coming out. It was so awesome to be holding an actual hard copy [and hardcover, too!] of it in my hands after seeing it on the screen in pages around the studio for the last couple of years.
I had an awesome installation at the Basil Hallward Gallery at Powell’s of all 200 pages and it was a pretty hectic couple of months this fall doing promotion for it, but it was a lot of fun. Despite the fact I’m kind of a recluse, I actually love giving readings, doing classes and being in front of a crowd. It felt good to return to SPX, which was my first convention I ever tabled at, and have a book and do really well. It got some buzz, and ended up on some lists, but those were mostly from librarians or book lovers, so it seemed preaching to the choir. Could MK and I could’ve done more to promote it or get word out there? I don’t know. Probably. We were both new to this stuff.
Freelance work almost completely dried up this year. Places that I had taken for granted as a source of work/income the past couple of years just stopped e-mailing. Could I have done more to promote myself? Absolutely. I had a little existential crisis after Americus came out, where I was asking myself ‘What do I want to do?’, ‘Where do my skills fit in?’, ‘What am I capable of doing?’. Asking these questions and not really knowing the answer really seemed to kill the buzz of the book coming out. It was a post-book-release depression, that was exacerbated by the fact that a lot of my friends were seeming to break out in a lot of ways – getting gigs storyboarding, teaching, other publishing work, etc. It’s not that I thought Americus would come out and I would be plucking jobs off the work tree and raking up the dollars that fell down afterwards, but I thought that something would come my way.
The big thing that I was working on this year was getting the Searchers, my next book, off the ground. Things have been moving along and I feel good about it, but I also feel like they’re not as far as I want them to be. I am also a bit overwhelmed at the ambition and scope that this project has compared to Americus. I’m super-excited and motivated, but part of me feels like I might have bitten off more than I can chew.
The biggest, most rewarding project I did this year, was the Lorian Gendarme Guidebook for Adventuring Standards. It was the project that MK and I worked on over the summer for SPX to help promote Americus. It was basically a world-building guidebook to the realm of Apathea Ravenchilde. For about two months we were writing/drawing collaborating machines. It was so much fun to basically just putting our nerdiness together to flesh-out and reverse engineer this whole world. It was an intense time, but I think it was the perfect endcap to our work together on Americus and I’m super, super happy with our final product. If only we could’ve made some money off it!
Another thing that I did a lot of, that I was pretty happy with, was all of the public appearances and helping out at local schools and libraries. Outside of the fancy events like the NW Bookfest and Wordstock, I helped the Washington School for the Deaf raise over $400 for graphic novels for their library, and I did lots of workshops at schools and libraries around Portland. I haven’t done any community service since I moved to Portland, and it was something I did a lot of in Savannah. I forgot how much I enjoy it and how rewarding it is.
There were also a lot of other goals that I didn’t meet, which all falls on me. I wanted to start to teach myself how to paint, both digitally and well, you know, with paint. I wanted to collaborate with friends on some other projects too, but those just never panned out.
So here I am at the end of 2011, looking at 2012. There are certain things that seem lined up for the year that are pretty big reasons to get excited. I have a teaching gig at OCAC this Spring, I have a really great client I’m working with now on a project that although it’s not the most exciting, it plays right into my skill set perfectly that will hopefully turn into some repeat work, and I’m on track to really get the Searchers into pitching shape, with a very wonderful and well-respected agent willing to help me get it out into the world.
Despite this, I still can’t shake the malaise that’s been hovering over me all year. Granted, this is all within my control. There’s so much that I could have been doing to push myself foward, and I don’t have anyone to blame but myself. I know that things don’t just happen to people – you work for them, and you have to work hard. Really hard. Maybe I needed this year to remind myself of that.
Before I sign out, I would like to mention that despite sounding like a whiny bitch, I am never forgetful of how lucky I am. I am surrounded with so many great friends and family and such wonderful opportunities. It really is pretty rad.
Here’s to working hard, learning from my mistakes, and really getting things rolling in 2012!
Sounds like life as a freelancer. I think you had a pretty good year. I’m looking forward to seeing some of your new work and I’m sure things will only get better from here.
Hey, Tyler! Thanks, man. After sitting on it, and realizing like you said, that this is the life of a freelancer – weathering all the ups and down – it was a pretty good year. I think I’m just upset with myself that I didn’t accomplish everything that I had in mind for the year.
Anyhow, thanks for the kind words. And go Blazers!
Pingback: one of the johns » Out of the funk and into the fire