Posts Tagged ‘Three Lions and an Otter’
So last Friday, Business Guy put together a running tally of income vs. expenses for last year, in preparation for tax time. The results were, in a word, bleak.
My gross income for 2015 (not counting a brief spurt of Starbucks salary) was somewhere around $5,000. The good news is that this is up from 2014… the bad news is that it’s only up by $300. This was feasible when Mrs. Gneech was making enough money for the both of us, but with the disintegration of her job as well, this has left us in an uncomfortable spot.
We are not in any immediate danger of being out on the street, thanks to savings and other resources held aside for such things, but financially speaking we are currently at 5,000 feet in a plane with no engine. My artistic pursuits, at least as I practice them, are not making me a living. If I want to avoid returning to the days of hand-to-mouth, I need to make a serious change.
One possibility is returning to a “day job,” and I am currently investigating options. My previous career shunted me down a blind alley into dead-end technology and left me burned out in the process… so even if I wanted to get back into that particular grind (which I don’t especially) there isn’t any work to be found there anyway. In fact most of my professional experience (word processing, graphic design/desktop publishing, web page design) is in stuff that was cutting edge from 1995-2005 and is woefully out of date now.
At this stage, I have little idea what is actually useful in the world, and no real idea how to effectively look for work in 2016. Once upon a time I would sign up with a handful of temp agencies and that would be my doorway into the professional arena, but even temp agencies don’t seem to exist in any appreciable way any more. To that end, I have signed up for The Oxford Program and am currently going through it in an attempt to reboot my career, but it’s not a short-term fix.
I have also been brainstorming on creating a “brand,” with the intention of using my creative talents to build a franchise, such as name designers or the Life Is Good guys. I’ve done some stuff along those lines with Snerks’N’Quirks but it’s very much a sideline right now. The hard part of this kind of thing for me is that while it does use my creative skills, it doesn’t hold my interest. Coming up with buttons just for the money is not that different from putting together webpages just for the money (or doing anything else just for the money). I have to find some way to make it vital or it will be just a different sort of grind.
I keep thinking of people like Steve Jobs, who set out with a mission and sorta got rich on the side, and that’s what I want out of life myself. But for the moment at least, I don’t know what that mission is, besides drawing Suburban Jungle and writing the occasional book… which is sorely lacking in that “get rich on the side” element.
But I have to do something different from what I’m doing right now, before the plane crashes.
I have never been a good businessman. Coming up with products and marketing ideas is like an alien environment to me, and frankly looking at numbers just fills my brain with a high pitched whine not unlike the Emergency Broadcast System. If you remember the moment in Forbidden Planet when Robbie the Robot is ordered to kill someone and it short-circuits his brain, that’s pretty much how my brain responds to anything that smacks of accounting.
I was blessed for some years to have an amazing business partner who dealt with all that stuff for me; however, it falls on me now and if I’m going to succeed and not end up in the code mines again, I have to make it work.
To that end, I’ve been studying other creators who’ve made it work, including Brad Guigar, John Scalzi, Seanan McGuire, and most notably (for this post) Maggie Hogarth, whose Three Jaguars provides a working real-life template of just this process.
To that end, I have decided to cultivate Three Lions (and an Otter), who are my own Artist, Marketer, and Business Manager analogues. Except in my case they are Content Guy (Lion), Business Guy (also a Lion), Muse (a Lioness Spirit), and Fandom Guy (the Otter).
Content Guy is the writer/artist. He’s the one who writes the stories, draws the pages, does the commissions, and grinds out those fourteen hour days of just making content when the creative fires are burning. Considering that Content Guy writes humor, comics, and pulpy adventure stories, he’s remarkably serious about his work. Business Guy and Fandom Guy largely exist to bring his work to the rest of the world, and he in turn is something of the group’s priest/medium to Muse.
Business Guy is the one in charge of handling money, making travel arrangements, signing contracts, tracking ALL THE THINGS, and so on. This poor dude is strung out on espresso drinks and is currently in WAY over his head, but he’s the only one available to do the job and so he’ll have to rise to the occasion. He needs training, he needs resources, but most importantly he needs patience and love. He and Fandom Guy hang out a lot.
Fandom Guy is a silly happy bouncy otter who loves tuna sandwiches and meeting with fans and making crazy pop references! He also loves manga, furry comics, and geeky STUFF and is therefore in charge of thinking up things that geeks will want to buy, as well as promotion in general. His duties also include making sure that everything Content Guy makes gets an AWESOME PASS to punch it up and make it better, from making the jokes funnier to making the art slicker to making sure that covers have Buster somewhere in a corner whenever possible.
Muse is a spirit of some kind, unable to interact with the physical world and probably, to be honest, barely able to comprehend it. She is shrouded, mysterious, elusive, and beautiful. She’s also capricious and does what she wants, the rest of us be damned. On the other hand, she informs everything we do from start to finish and to a large extent we are all simply manifestations of her, which is probably what leads to her treating the rest of us this way. She works most directly through Content Guy, who occasionally chafes at being her slave, but also worships her like a goddess. Business Guy obeys her without question to best of his ability, and Fandom Guy thinks she’s totally awesome but wishes she would consider making his job easier by getting Content Guy to do some more mainstream stuff from time to time.
So What’s the Point?
Largely, the point of all this is to give me a mental framework to keep myself organized. My general schedule has sorta been that Mondays are Fandom Guy days, while Tuesday through Thursday are Content Guy days, and Fridays are Business Guy days, but that’s never been explicit so much as it just worked out that way. But now I can make that not only “official,” but also plan for it. “I need to add some merch… Fandom Guy, do that on Monday. Oh, taxes are coming due soon? That’s Business Guy’s job, I’ll do it Friday.”
By personifying them this way, I have also been able to analyze my own strengths and weaknesses and I know what to work on. Poor Business Guy, he needs some serious love! On the other hand, Content Guy is kind of a workaholic (and not the happiest of lions, it seems), so I need to keep that in mind, while Fandom Guy is fun and exuberant but also kind of an airhead who will probably need reining in from time to time, etc.
Plus, what the heck, it’s just fun and helps me know myself a little better. It also makes the creative process a little less lonely: yes, it’s often a very solitary process, but within myself I contain a whole team. 😉 So c’mon, gang, we’ve got work to do!