Some quick thoughts

Had a great idea for a comic earlier this weekend but the time I was going to spend on it got eaten by WordPress updates, plugin updates, and an argument with a server over what version of PHP I was running.

Meanwhile, also got the house cleaned up, the closets cleaned out, lots of errands run, watched the Phillies win and then lose and then win, watched the Eagles fall on their face, threw the squeaky pig and/or the ball for Kaylee ten thousand times, took two walks for a total of 3 miles, and went to see Scott Pilgrim.

Look, if you’ve ever liked comics, comic strips, video games, being 17-23, bad bands, or strangely-choreographed martial-arts-like fighting, and you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim vs the World get thine ass to the thea-tah before it clears out and you have to wait for video, because it ROCKS.

You also owe it to yourself to read the books. Now. Now now now now now. Look, even Nighthawk liked them. Go go go.

This coming week consists of much insanity as Nighthawk and I prep for our holy-crap-it’s-September-where’d-the-summer-go vacation in Virginia Beach, which commences Saturday. Maybe while I’m lounging by the beach I’ll get off my ass and draw some comics.

Needs, or, pruning in order to grow.

The world is trying to shake me at my roots, and I’ve been resisting.

I read an article years ago called The Sex & Cash Theory which says, in short, that if you want to be happy with your life you have to balance the things that pay the bills against the sexy, creative stuff. If you let your life swing one way or the other too far, chaos will ensue.

I’ve never had the problem of letting my life swing too far into the creative endeavors.

I get up, take care of the dogs, go to work, try to solve problems and occasionally create things that are useful. I sometimes feel like I’m genuinely making things better. Whether I succeed or not, it’s exhausting work of juggling competing priorities, competing egos, varying interpretations, and menacing deadlines.

When I’m done working, I come home, take care of the dogs if Nighthawk hasn’t beaten me to it (some days run, well, loooong….), source and prepare some sort of foodlike objects, and try to find something that will take my mind off of the work I left and the work I’m going back to the next day.

If I’m lucky, I get six hours of sleep. If I’m really lucky, it’s not filled with nightmares about work. Then it starts over.

(As an aside, have you ever tried to type around a dog? Chance says hello.)

Even as little as two years ago, I had the energy and drive to create after work. I drew a comic. I worked on the five novels I’ve got written in various pieces around my hard drive. I knit. I cooked crazy-ass things. (I’m pretty sure the peanutbutter fish story has never actually made it into this iteration of the blog. Someone remind me someday…)

But slowly those things have been sliding out of my life. The novel writing was displaced by the comic authoring (except for every other November). The comic was displaced by martial arts. That, in turn, has been forcibly displaced by injuries, health issues for Nighthawk, the holidays, more back issues, more health issues for Nighthawk, a conference, family vacation, and just when I thought I’d be going back, a strained shoulder. And a work deadline schedule that pushes and pushes and pushes. Oh, and more health issues for Nighthawk.

Slowly I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not where I’m supposed to be, mentally, physically, or emotionally.

Nighthawk’s health has recently provided me with an extremely large burst of nervous energy. On May 12th he’s having oral surgery, but not like the nice friendly “let’s pull a tooth” surgery. More like the “let’s put the lung patient on a respirator, do all the work, take you off the respirator, and give you soft foods for at least a week while trying to keep your calorie count above 3000/day and your blood sugar normal” oral surgery. Not. My. Favorite. Kind.

What do you do with a nervous breakdown on the edge of your peripheral vision? Well, if you don’t have a creative outlet for it, you take it to work and try to get it to be useful. This is somewhat akin to putting a bellman’s uniform on the most violent rabid dog you can find, and chaining him up outside your cube, where he’s in charge of greeting everyone. Not necessarily successful, and generally requires a mop.

The universe has decided to combat this insanity by making April into “Kirabug reassesses her values” month.

The first shake-up came from the conference at the beginning of April. An Event Apart re-fired my desire to create, but not my ability to find an outlet. The inspiration-with-no-outlet problem made everything else worse.

The next shake-up came as a Studio Ghibli movie watched on my iPhone while I was feeling burnt out and sick and tired. Whisper of the Heart reminded me that creation is hard work, and you don’t get better from hiding from it.

When I started writing the thyroid cancer part of the comic, which Christ knows I’d never intended to write back in 2004 when I started the comic, it got hard. No, let me reword that. It got haaaaaaard. I lost the enjoyment of the craft because I was frustrated at my lack of skill. And I lost focus when a new sexy toy (martial arts) caught my attention.

But creating stories is what I was born to do. I create stories in the shower, on the way to work, in the comic. Some of my best web design was expressed in a comic strip, not a wireframe. New ideas are literally scrawled in every file and on every note of every piece of paper I get my hands on. I haven’t stopped creating stories, just because I lost time and motivation. I just started drowning them out in news feeds and bad TV and RSS feeds and comic strips and timewasters.

(By the way, Whisper of the Heart is my new favorite movie. It requires two things: one, that you remember how it felt to be sixteen. Two, that you forget how it feels to be your current age. If you get those two reversed you’ll think it’s horribly corny.)

So I threw out a bunch of distractions. I cut from 78 webcomics to comics folder to 36 core stories I’ve been following for years and still love. I threw out all but 15 RSS feeds (down from 50-ish.) Repeat ad nauseum through Twitter and Fark and Facebook ad nauseum.

Progress. Still, I felt lost, like I’m not sure what I’m creating for.

But tonight Nighthawk and I watched Train (or How I Dumped Electricity and Learned to Love Design. Now, Nighthawk turned me on to Brenda’s twitter feed months ago. He happens to know that I’ve wanted to write RPG video games ever since I discovered Final Fantasy in high school. And game design is a bit of a passion for him as well.

Brenda reminded me tonight that I create to grow. Not everything I create is going to be pretty. Not everything I create is going to be valued. Certainly not everything I create is going to be useful. But everything I create helps me step forward.

I have neglected the pruning. The grass has overrun the garden, and the important branches have been left to wither.

I need to walk away from martial arts. It’s a great experience I will return to, but I can’t fit martial arts, work, and my home life all in the same jar. I certainly can’t do all those things and add any other form of creativity into the jar.

I need to leave work at work.

I need to do hard things again, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

I need to reconnect with my characters and find out what they have to say, before I forget how to speak their language.

I need to give this nervous energy someone to chase that doesn’t wear a tie. Figments of my imagination are suitable candidates.

I need to listen to the earth, stop resisting who I am and what I do. At least for a little while.

Comic schedule

We continue today’s Night Fugues diversion on Wednesday and Saturday this week.

…it was supposed to be a post about nursery rhymes. Clearly, somewhere, something has gone awry.

Rambling

First, let me say I have a massive headache. So this post likely won’t make sense.

I’m currently at my computer wearing gloves. The heat’s working, the rest of my body is warm, but my hands are ice cubes. I hate winter.

I’ve been neglecting my website and my comic. Dunno why… sometimes a person just grows away from a thing. I’m going to try to grow back toward it.

It’s going to be a challenge though. Used to be this was my creative outlet. Now, as an information architect, I get paid to use those same creative bits of my brain at work, so when I come home they’re tired and they don’t want to play anymore.

On the other hand, the characters won’t necessarily shut up. Marin and the dogs especially. Not sure what to do about that.

Not sure what to do about the fact that I’ve left y’all in a mid-plot lurch either.

We’re working these things out, at any rate. Things are due for some changes.

You might start to see some short twitter-esque posts on here over time…. I sometimes only have a few minutes to say a thing. But I prefer to say the things that are comic-related here rather than the twitter feed. Which is really just me rambling on. Sort of like this, but shorter.

Anyway, things are in the works.

Ramblings

I have an absolute killer headache. It’s been around since noon. Not fun.

The most recent A Girl & Her Fed got me giggling though… third-tier villains shouldn’t be adopted unless you’re really going to take care of them.

Basic Instructions also had some “helpful” information on how to evaluate a new medication…

The Phillies won their first postseason game today!

And I’m working on comics.

Meanwhile, here’s some stuff from the internet:

Aaaand some video.

Simon’s Cat – Hot Spot. (I just got the Simon’s Cat book and it’s awesome.)

The Phillie Phanatic Milks a Cow.

You are being shagged by a rare parrot!

Family Guy, Disney style:

Helen Keller, captured on video, speaking:

OK, that’s enough for tonight. Head still hurts. I should sleep.

D’oh.

Ah, drawing webcomics is so much more effective when you close your tags, and upload the images. All fixed. Dumb dumb dumb.

Comic schedule this week

Since we’ve been without comics for way too long, I’m going to try to get 3 up a week until my to-do list stops telling me I owe you folks more comics. So this week is Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, with a really really big Night Fugues as the Saturday comic. Enjoy!

older stuff »