Jun 10 2020

Pirate Mooncat, Plus Audience Building!

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Pirate Mooncat D&D Portrait
D&D Portrait Commission for Mooncat! Speaking of, commissions are open: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/36111580/

Following up on Monday’s post, I’ve been taking stock of where I am in my art and writing career, and it’s clear that I need to attend to some things. Not the least of which is re-building my audience! I have a small-but-tight core of people who have been following my work forever through thick and thin (❤️ Jungloids!) and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. That doesn’t alter the fact that in terms of treating my work as a proper business, there are times when I need to look at it as a numbers game. Even with the crazy high ratio of followers-to-financial supporters that I have, the actual number of followers is tiny.

So, for an example, another artist I follow on Twitter posted a rough little sketch of a character they were noodling around with. It was a cute little drawing, nothing that exciting, but it still got something like 800 likes. I looked at that and blinked for several seconds—I get excited when a post of any kind, much less a doodle, gets over 20 likes. So I looked at their follower count, and discovered it was something like 12,000—compared to mine, which is currently hovering around 1,600.

Well, I mean, no friggin’ wonder.

Before people hop in with “Followers aren’t everything!” I want to make it clear that I don’t attach a personal meaning to have a low follower count on Twitter (or any other platform for that matter), I’m diagnosing a business problem here. :) Even if every one of those Twitter followers was converted to a $1 Patreon subscriber for instance (which isn’t going to happen, but bear with me), that still wouldn’t be enough for me to put food on the table.

I must grow my audience in order to succeed.

So my priority for a while is going to be doing that—but the truth is I have no idea how. O.o

I’m open to suggestions, and I’d love any help I can get. I’ve started posting art to Instagram to expand my horizons, and I am making it a priority to post at least twice a week there and other places, even if it’s just a little sketch-a-day piece. I also started up a fanart sketch request Ko-Fi, although I haven’t had any takers there yet.

So I’m curious! If you follow my work and don’t mind telling me, why do you? What attracted you and made you want to stick around? Do you have suggestions on how I can grow my audience? How do you do promotion? I’m eager to learn!

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Jun 08 2020

If It’s Your Calling, It Will Keep Calling You

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Roxie and Charity on a Starry Night

Stuff happened. It knocked me off my groove, and I have remained in a state of being off my groove for several years now. And like somebody dangling off a rope trying desperately to scramble back up, I’ve been twisting in the wind, trying one thing after another to get something—anything—to work. It’s kept my head above water… mostly… but it has not led to success. And it has definitely not led to satisfaction.

But a few days ago, I happened on a tweet, nearly swamped in all the World Being So Much With Us right now, but that jumped out at me like an electric spark.

If it's your calling, it will keep calling you.
If it’s your calling, it will keep calling you.

I have ADHD. I can hyperfocus for bursts, but repeated, sustained effort is often difficult for me to maintain. But in all the noise, chaos, new shiny things to chase, and so on, there are two things that keep calling me: art and writing, writing and art. They wax and wane seasonally—I’m usually way more into art in the warm months and way more into writing when it’s colder—but they’re both always there.

And my groove, the happiest and most successful times in my life, also coincided with the times that I was most in touch with those. Suburban Jungle is still my high mark of both sustained personal satisfaction and success in terms of reaching an audience. The one thing it never provided, was a livable income, and that in turn led to me believing that making a living with my writing and art was not possible, and so I’ve spent the past several years trying with little success trying to find a way to make a livable income doing anything else, and being miserable while I was doing it.

Well, I hereby surrender that fight.

I am an artist and writer. That’s the alpha and omega, the sum total of who and what I am, and from here forward anything I do is going to be in service of that. There are people who make their living this way. I know some of them. It can be done. And if it can be done, I can do it, I just need to figure out how.

I need to figure out workflow. I need to figure out finding gigs and building (or re-building) an audience. I need to refocus on honing my craft, which stagnated somewhere.

But mostly I need to remember my mission, every day.

I make my living as an artist/illustrator and a writer, creating fun and engaging work that brings people joy and makes them feel seen and connected. That’s what keeps calling me, and I’m going to answer, again and again.

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Jun 02 2020

Just a Thing I Want to Remember

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So you know those jokes that start with “sits bolt upright in bed, and declares—” type?

That literally happened to me at 4 am this morning, with the thought, “LET’S GIVE A SHOUT-OUT TO LEONARD NIMOY CONVINCINGLY LOOKING LIKE HE WAS GOOGLING THINGS FOR TWENTY YEARS WHEN REALLY HE WAS JUST TWEAKING COLORED GLASS BEADS!”

I then plopped back down and went back to sleep.

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May 25 2020

So Sick of Being a Yo-Yo

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All other things being equal, my weight goes up.

I don’t eat more than most people; I don’t eat worse than most people. I certainly get more exercise than most people.

But for whatever reason, my body just wants to be heavier.

Every eighteen months or so, it starts getting dangerously close to 300 pounds and I can’t take it any more. I do intermittent fasting, cut out as much sugar and carbs as I can stand without having constant head/body aches, and pursue an aggressive exercise regimen.

The good news is, my body is very responsive to this. Typically, I lose 10-20 pounds within six months.

The bad news, I can’t sustain the effort. I’m not talking about “easy lifestyle changes” here, I’m talking about the focus of my life turns from Literally Anything Else to Lose Weight Again, Dammit. Sometime around the six to eight months mark, I am just too mentally and physically exhausted to keep going, and I start to coast.

And just as responsive as it is to aggressive weight loss efforts, it is to coasting. Maybe moreso.

It’s like my body is a ship with a leaky hull and being overweight is the ocean. As long as I furiously man the pumps I’m okay, but the second I stop, the ship starts sinking again.

I am fucking sick of it.

But it’s the hand I’ve been dealt. And the lockdown isn’t helping.

Ship’s flooded again. Back to the pumps.

Dammit. -.-

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May 20 2020

Everything I Wanted: A Spoileriffic Discussion of She-Ra

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Everything I wanted.
Yeah. So. Spoilers. The title warned you.

The show that asked, “What if Star Wars was incredibly gay?” and then answers, “IT WOULD BE AWESOME AS FUCK!”

There’s so much for me to say about She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, I don’t even know where to begin. I already knew, when I was defending Catra as A Cinnamon Roll Who Wants to Kill You that this was a show I was going to be very heavily invested in. Catra literally feels to me like Noelle Stevenson plucked her right out of my brain and put her on the screen—to the point that I wrote to Ms. Stevenson directly and leveraged all of my comics/animation contacts into trying to find a way to get onto the writing team… without success, alas.

Catra would look at Leona Lioness or Tanya Regellan and say “Oh, you too?” She is also directly the inspiration for Shade-Of-the-Candle, whose own transition from snarling murdercat to laughing bandit has parallels to the arc Catra actually follows. As Emmet Asher-Perrin so aptly put it, “Catra was an instant favorite on the show among its fans. But there was something about it that nagged at me, something more specifically related to her type, and what that type said about me, and what it meant that I kept returning to it.”

And I’m not gonna lie, I was scared for Catra. With every season ending with her in a worse place than the last one, and knowing in very personal detail exactly the self-destructive cycles she was going through, I was terrified she was going to go down with the ship. Redemptive Suicide is such a terrible trope, but such a common one in fantasy and SF, that I was at least 65% convinced that was going to be her fate.

(Mere words cannot express how happy I am to read that Shadow Weaver’s final fate was intentionally written as an “Up yours!” at that specific trope.)

I stopped watching the show halfway through season four, because Double Trouble pushed too many of my buttons—I didn’t have it in me to watch these characters I was so fond of just unravel and tear each other apart, and after the end of season three I couldn’t bring myself to watch Catra do any more horrible things without some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. So I suspended my Netflix account and waited. There was no way I wouldn’t watch season five when it came out—but I couldn’t finish until I could actually finish, if that makes any sense.

So… where do I stand, now that the show’s over? Like the title says, it gave me everything I wanted. Catra to have a true redemption. A true, explicit and undeniable romantic relationship between Catra and Adora. Adventure, excitement, and really wild things. Strong characters, deep and compelling villains, beautiful animation. The first ever canonically and unambiguously queer protagonist in mainstream western animation. On some level, I must face that I resent that I couldn’t be part of it. When I knew getting involved in the show wasn’t going to happen, I created The Reclamation Project to redirect that energy, so good has still came of it, but for me She-Ra will never not be “one that got away.” It’s a historic, once-in-a-lifetime event, a revolution that I was only able to watch and not participate in. And there’s nothing I can do about that except get over it.

On the other hand, the sheer joy that S5 has filled me with blots out those dark thoughts. Scorpia going from doormat to utter badass. Entrapta—who I’ve historically been very down on—not just coming to grips with the difference between “people” and “things,” but also giving Catra one of the most understatedly but purely kind moments in Problem Cat’s whole life.

Wrong Hordak. Just freakin’ Wrong Hordak. He’s another character who feels like he was ripped out of my brain.

Catra’s sheer desperation for Adora in the final two episodes—and that Catra’s (requited!) love for Adora literally saved the universe.

I could do this all day. I’ll stop. If you’ve seen the show you know all these things.

What does it mean to me? I don’t know. I know that Suburban Jungle has touched lives—but not on the scale or sheer power that this show has. Is there still something useful for me to do? If so, what? And how do I do it? What can I bring to the table in a world that already has this in it?

I’ll find something.

May 13 2020

The Moving Hand Hath Writ

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“The moving hand once having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line.”
―Omar Khayyám, Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Been chewing more on my same thoughts from last night re: blogging and social contact and such. The annoying truth of the matter is, frankly, that’s it’s not 2005 any more and it never will be again.

I’ve never wanted to be a “Thing were better in the good ole days!” sort of person, and it’s not in my nature to dislike new things on the grounds that they’re new. What is in my nature, is to hate losing things that I loved, whether it’s TV shows that have gone off the air and fallen out of the public consciousness, Long John Silvers restaurants, happy bubblegum pop music, or a thriving LiveJournal community.

I don’t know what, if anything, is “the current hotness.” Our culture has become so balkanized that very little seems to make a lasting impact, and it often feels like by the time something pops up on my radar it’s already waning. But it’s not like I changed how I approach or consume media and culture. It’s more like… stuff just stopped showing up.

I am aware of the accelerating nature of my perception of time. When you’re twenty, a year seems like a long time because it’s 5% of your whole life experience. When you’re fifty, a year goes by while you’re thinking up a blog post, and you’re like “WTF just happened?” But I’m also aware of a certain amount of jadedness that I think is an inevitable result of having been such a ravenous consumer of culture for so long. I’ve read so many books, watched so many TV shows, playing so many video games, that I could probably identify every entry on TVTropes.org and cite two or three examples. Things that seem exciting and fresh to people with more limited experience, I see as a retooling of a thing I saw back thirty years ago, and why get invested in the new one when the one from thirty years ago is still perfectly good?

The answer, of course, is connection. Fandom is a team sport, and if I want to be geeking out with friends about stuff, whatever that stuff is, I have to go where the people are! Unlike my mom, who was flabbergasted that none of my nieces had a clue who Gilbert & Sullivan were, I don’t want the things I love that used to be popular, to become a prison preventing me from being connected to what people are living in the moment right now.

-The Gneech

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