2019 Resolution

I want to play more video games!

I tend to get obsessed with one game and play it for hundreds of hours. For most of 2017 and 2018, that game was Breath of the Wild, and it’s currently Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. Since there are only so many hours in the day and only so many days in the year, this means that I don’t play many new games, which is exacerbated by the fact that I really enjoy replaying older games.

This year I’d like to set time aside to play games I’m interested in but don’t play because I feel like I’ve already exceeded my quota of fun by staying up until two in the morning filling in rows of a character’s license grid (or collecting Koroks or, you know, whatever). I also have an irrational compulsion to finish games even if they stop being fun, which means I’m unlikely to pick up a new game unless it’s a #1 Top Tier Indie Classic That Requires No Time Commitment. I’d like to get past this and try new things!

I’m limited by the fact that I refuse to play games on Steam, but I still have a short list of games I’d like to try now that they’re starting to be released on the Nintendo Switch, like Kentucky Route Zero and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery. During the past year the University of Minnesota Press started putting out fantastic and inexpensive paperback monographs on games and gaming culture that have veered away from the pretentious “Videogames As One Word™: I Am A Straight White Man” genre that currently characterizes the majority of academic writing on games and have instead focused more on broader strands of literary and Media Studies criticism. Aubrey Anable’s Playing with Feelings is a good example of the sort of interesting work that’s coming out in the series, and reading books like this makes me want to sit down and play every single game under discussion. Saying that scholarship has made me want to play games is peak nerd, and I am ashamed of myself, but still.

Video games! Let’s play them in 2019!!

2018 Commissions and Goals

In 2018 I commissioned 52 comics and illustrations, which turns out to be one piece of art for every week of the year. This seems like kind of a lot, in retrospect.

Aside from a few ongoing projects, like a series of illustrations for a fanfic novel and my first real attempts to collaborate with artists on comics I’ve written, a lot of these were “emergency commissions” for people who needed money. Most of these artists were asking for almost no money at all for their work, and my general strategy was to give them twice what they asked upfront and then the full amount again when they sent me the artwork. I was very poor for most of my life, and I feel like I want to give people the sort of small financial and emotional boost I could have used when I was younger. That being said, I wish we lived in a world where “emergency commissions” aren’t necessary to help cover things like transportation and basic healthcare.

Some of these commissions were never completed, which I totally understand. If someone is struggling with health issues, you give them a free pass, you know? In fact, I go into all commissions fully expecting that they will never be finished, and I’m pleasantly surprised when they are – which they almost always are, because most artists are good people. On the other hand, a few artists completed my commissions but never posted their work and asked that I not post it myself. I don’t understand this quite so well, to be honest, but I think I’ve figured out enough of a pattern to avoid this type of person in the future.

I always try to be clear and concise in my communication with artists, but I’ve started to take special care to make it clear that part of what I’m commissioning is an opportunity for mutual self-promotion. Of course I want to support artists (and honestly, I would financially support writers too if the culture of fandom had gone in that direction), and of course I want there to be more art and positive representation in the world. Still, there’s often real money changing hands, and I’m not paying artists – especially professional artists – entirely out of the goodness and generosity of my heart.

I am a serious writer who wants to work with serious artists. My end goal, such as it is, is to gain the skills and experience to collaborate on creative projects that will break out of my own small circles of fandom and attract the attention of a larger audience. Just as a lot of professional artists gain a following in fandom before achieving the critical mass necessary to break into the industry, I want to do be able to do the same as a writer.

Unfortunately, there are barriers. The first is that I have a full-time job that demands most of my emotional and creative energy, and my employment situation is still precarious. The second is that I am not wealthy, which limits the number of creative projects I can fund. The third is that I’m an introvert who is very shy about approaching people, and I really can’t perform the sort of hustle necessary to place myself a position where I might conceivably start attracting attention by being visible and outspoken. The fourth is that I’m still deeply scarred by all the harassment I’ve dealt with on Tumblr, which has had the added effect of shutting me out of communities that would otherwise support me and help promote the specific type of work I’m doing. The fifth is gender, an issue that manages to be nuanced and complicated yet also entirely self-explanatory.

(Seriously though. Why are almost all comic writers male? I know that female comic writers exist, obviously, but I say this as someone who attends half a dozen comic conventions and reads hundreds of large-press, small-press, and self-published comics every year.)

But I’m putting in the work, and Lord knows I’m putting in the time and money. This year I threw a lot of ideas and projects into the air just to see where they landed, and I think I learned a few things from the process. Next year I’m going to try to be more strategic and efficient regarding what I commission. I still want to support artists and create art, but I’m also going to need to focus on projects that have a higher level of professional potential and impact, both for myself and for the artists who are kind enough to work with me.

And I know this is going to sound mercenary, but I prefer to think of it as recentering my sense of balance – I need to stop devoting so many resources to supporting a creative community and start devoting more resources to creating a community that will support me.

2018 Resolutions

Then Flourish

– I want the manuscript of Transnational Manga Cultures and the Female Gaze to be submitted to my editor by the end of the year.

– I’m going to finish the novel I’ve been working on since 2016, The Legend of the Princess. I’m going to put it on hold until the end of the spring semester, but I plan to pick it back up again in May.

– This summer I want to draw a short autobio comic about my experience of playing Link’s Awakening as a kid. I’ve already written the script and sketched the thumbnails, and I’m looking forward to sitting down and getting to work!

– I also want to write a love story called “The Moon Over Innsmouth,” a sequel to H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” In my story, the narrator drops out of college, embraces his biracial identity, and learns to celebrate the joy of Polynesian religious traditions as he develops strong romantic feelings for a handsome young fishman.

– I can’t believe I’m actually typing this sentence with my own two hands, but I want to make a firm resolution to PLAY MORE VIDEO GAMES this year. For the past two years I’ve felt like I’m busy and tired all the time, so I need to carve out a chunk of time every day when I don’t do anything meaningful, productive, or related to work in any way.

( Header image from Gaviary on Tumblr )