No, I don’t have an antivirus; I’m just anti-virus. More on that in a moment.
First, a quick update and a small clarification on my last post about reverting to pursuing comics as a hobby instead of a business. I do still intend to create, publish, and sell comics, make convention appearances, and so on. However, my approach is now “because I want to,” instead of “because I want to make this my career someday.” If that still happens by some wild stroke of luck, or if I can pivot back in that direction in the future, great. But, for now, I do have to abandon things like business strategy, timely and crafted social media posts to maximize reach, and trying (and failing) to monetize everything I do. Those are the things that stressed me out, the things I don’t currently have the capacity to manage. The things that make comics not fun.
How do I feel a couple of weeks after making that decision? Still good! I haven’t had any of the panicked “Oh my God! I haven’t posted on social media in X days! I have to put something out there!” realizations. I haven’t fretted about how to maybe make a Patreon work, or stressed over how to gain followers, or envied other artists’ followers. It’s really been a huge relief, and I don’t miss any of it.
Now, all of that being said, I haven’t exactly gotten a lot of work on comics done, either, even after shedding all those business concerns. But, the two weeks that followed my last post have been exceptionally busy, and we also began to see the exponential spread of the coronavirus here in the States, so, uh, I’ve been a little preoccupied. The work will come.
Also, I forgot to give a huge shoutout to my friend Lucas, who proposed the idea of recognizing and not attempting to work beyond one’s capacity in a Facebook video he made near the beginning of the year. It’s a problem with which I’ve struggled for a long time, and his video finally put it in such perspective that I got it. I knew it was happening, but it mutated into compulsive behavior, At last, I understood and accepted what I’ve been doing to myself, and started making an effort to get my life under control for what feels like the first time in a long time:
- I gave up comics as a business.
- I began turning down freelance work (except for Staff and Shadow and select very small projects and art commissions) to focus on my own work.
- I started making lists of ideas to explore later so I don’t feel compelled to work on fifty projects at a time, and fail to make progress on any of them.
- I accepted that if there is not time to work on something today, it’s not the end of my life, and there’s a good chance there will be time tomorrow.
In the same video, Lucas also explores the idea of looking at oneself with “kind eyes,” which is something I’m real, real bad at. However, it turns out life is much easier when I’m not constantly looking for reasons to be disappointed in myself (can you imagine?!), so I’m trying hard to keep that in mind this year.
Now, let’s talk briefly about this other thing going on in the world these days, best described by this image I stole from my friend Josh from The Scattergun’s Facebook page:
I don’t have a lot to say, other than my experience and how I feel about things. I’ve been working from home for a week now. I went to the store one time, and not even for toilet paper! Being in public felt strange—the store was crowded, and with it came an overwhelming sense of dread and of people not wanting to make eye contact or get too close to one another. Even more so than usual!
I get it. I felt the same way. Not because the others around me were lepers, but because COVID-19’s absurdly long incubation period means any number of folks could be walking around with it (including me!) and not even know. I wasn’t really proud of feeling that much unease and need for distance, but I do feel like it’s what I need to do right now to a) not get the virus, and 2) not spread the virus.
The family and I made a handful of trips into the wilderness, as well, to places we hoped we wouldn’t find many people. That has been nice, although, we did find some people, and I have to figure more and more people will seek out these sanctuaries in the coming weeks. The good news is that the wilderness is big and open-air—plenty of room for all of us, and no enclosed spaces for the virus to thrive. I don’t know if that matters or not—it sounds logical, but I’m only an expert on video games and pro wrestling.
Overall, I’m doing okay—I mostly just worry about others’ health and job/income situations, and those who are out in this every day, helping to keep society running while the rest of us bunker up and hoard corn nog and wadded beef. Our first week at home went fairly well, though it was a bit jumbled. Amanda and I worked out a routine over the weekend, in case we have to do this for a while, so I feel better prepared going into this week. I’m not as stir-crazy as I expected, and I haven’t lost my optimism or productivity.
I saw a number of writers, artists, and musicians offering content for free or at a heavy discount to help keep people sane during this time of social distancing, so I felt compelled to do the same. While you’re stuck at home (or at the Winchester) waiting for this whole thing to blow over, if you’re looking for some digital content to consume, I opened a Gumroad store, and I’m offering PDF downloads of Six Legs, No Heart for 99 cents, and a book of video game drawings and writings I did for Inktober many years ago for FREE (or name your price, if you feel compelled to pay something). It’s a pittance of content, and I hope it doesn’t come off as exploiting others in this situation. But, I felt like I had to do something in my area of interest to bring people some levity and release in an otherwise stressful time. And, as always, Mike and the Ninja is available in its entirety at mikeandtheninja.com. I’ve considered blogging more frequently, as well, but as we all know, posts here can be few and far between. It would be a nice way to help me feel less isolated, though, and maybe provide some minor entertainment and/or solace for others.
That’s all for now! Hang in there, be safe, wash your hands, take care of each other, and stay positive!