Monday, August 5, 2019

What Eight-Year-Olds Have Taught Me about Not Working


"Go away, I'm writing!" we shout as we fall deeper into the rabbit hole that is someone's political post.
For the readers who have been paying attention to me for the last few years now - hell, computer users who can take a glance at the dates of my posting - have recognized the impact of chronic illness (both mental and physical.) Those in my life, even those who have experienced similar things, (even myself for that matter) can't always understand what sickness does to a person.
I suppose the hardest part of the last few years was not feeling funny. As in, I didn't amuse myself Jokes didn't come to mind, even the ones that I was deadly serious about causing people to laugh at me. I felt drained of who I was, chronically tired, burned out, uninspired, a disbeliever of love, and a generally empty person. I often described to my compatriots that I knew I was missing something; I just had no idea what.
For many people, 2019 seems to be a year of Great Change. Many of my friends are getting into good relationships or taking the next step of marriage. Many are finding jobs in the field they've always wanted. Many (way too many) are moving. Going to grad school, just doing something big for themselves.
Personally, I got fired. It was the best thing to happen to me. I swear to God I was never going to punch him. And I suspect my manager wanted me to defend myself when she gave me the call and say so. But the reason I blew up at that lazy asshole was BECAUSE my blood pressure hiked over a job supposed to be temporary, and I was glad when it was over.
I couldn't quit and leave my coworkers in the lurch. I liked the money coming in. I liked being useful. And the job was never boring. But since January 2018 and that fateful 22-hour shift, I kept questioning why I was spending energy on a business that wasn't personal to me? So much of my life went to serving overpriced microwave dinners to private jets - and I don't even like food. I tried to quit, to cut down on my hours, to switch my position there, but ultimately, the place wasn't set up for me to have a life outside of it.
As of today, I've committed to the goal that caused me to move back from New York in 2017. As much as I tried to keep up with everything - including this blog - I just wasn't capable in that headspace. But now I have time to write, to create merchandise, to advertise, and to think about my career actively. I got into a supportive relationship to help me brainstorm and advise on the business side of things, and I'm teaching way more art.
That being said, my eight-year-old students are the worst little mirrors you could find. All of a sudden, I'm more engrossed and committed to the buggers, and I've begun to learn a great deal about being an artist.
See, kids are simpler and more upfront when it comes to their moods. They have a harder time describing what's going on with them, but that's sort of the point. Being much worse at understanding themselves and how they're perceived, they're also much worse at obscuring things. Older people are more likely to shut down when you start to poke at their walls. When you call a kid out on their "artistic license" as being "just lazy," children tend to find your honesty funny. They notice they're not in trouble and tend to be surprised that you understood them so well. Adults, well, they are more in tune with what happens if they get caught in bullshitting you, so they're less likely to admit that the slew of typos aren't actually their "voice," but them not wanting to clean it up.
Most importantly, I've found myself being more and more hypocritical these days. I'm very attentive to the old wounds and aim to give kids good experiences when I sense anxiety. While ordering them to introduce themselves, make eye contact, shake hands, and show off their work, I'm hiding from my boss when she's looking for someone to talk to the other teachers about our end performance. I tease one girl about not finishing her work or trying new mediums because she's afraid of ruining it. In fact, the vast majority of kids I must demand they color their drawings for that very same reason. Yet, at the same time, I only recently bought faux silver leaf, a medium I've been wanting to use for several years now, because I was afraid of screwing it up.
And it was because of my conversations with these kids that I started to understand why I'm not working. The true reason, outside of the burnout and exhaustion: My fear of doing something poorly made me do nothing at all. I've been wanting to make magnets and stickers, cards and bookmarks, baby quilts and publish books, yet I didn't want to spend money and mess it up. I didn't want to draw something that wasn't going to work or get my product to realize how terrible it looked.
Look, to make an omelet, you're going to have to burn your mother's pans. Just clean it up, chalk it up to life, and move on. And maybe don't tell anyone about it.
I'll say it before, and I'll probably say it again: 2019 will be the year I return to my hopeful youth. I've already started making progress, and I am returning to be a reliable poster. As much as I would love to have a teacher sit me down, tell me to suck it up, and then show me how to do the project I've been interested in for years, I don't have the money to pay for that. I'm going to have to do it myself.
So! What you can expect from me, loyal readers, is the following:

  • My newsletter will come out on the first of the month. It includes an extra comic about writing as well as information about giveaways and new shop items.
  • This blog will post regularly every Monday. (I've even gotten a few back-ups written.)
  • I make no promises that Stories of the Wyrd will post every month, but that's the aim of the game.
  • My brand spanking new Patreon page will be posting new projects and concept art, among anything else I can think of.
  • My Facebook announces new information, including when I've put up any online material, such as the comics or original stories.
  • My Etsy shop is slowly growing to include more merchandise. Keep checking it out as I'm adding new stuff almost every week!
  • Instagram is also a great way to see new concept art, projects, and new projects reveals!

I've done it before, and I can do it again.
I'm fairly excited guys, I have to admit. The style is coming in, I've been developing a marketing strategy, and working on books left to write. Follow along with me, and if you have anything holding you back, I can teach you like an eight-year-old and slap you around verbally a bit. Just contact me through any of my social media or email.

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