The Return from the Goblin Cave

This past weekend was JordanCon. It was my first convention since 2019 (second show- I had a one-day Goblin Market last November that was an incredible experience, but first convention and multi-day show), and my first time at JordanCon ever.

As a return to the convention scene, this was about as ideal as I could hope for. I was in the art show rather than the Dealer’s Hall this time, which meant it was a silent auction rather than a sale that required me to be behind a table. For the first time in… maybe five years? I was able to actually go to a convention and sit in on panels. It was a lovely way to dip my feet back into the world outside of my goblin hovel. The Writing Track in particular was an absolute delight, filled with insightful people giving entertaining and educational talks on the topics I’m passionate about.

The pandemic has been… an interesting time. On its surface, the opportunity to spend several months at home while the art center was shut down and shows were canceled seemed like a strange sort of gift. Open time to achieve anything you want to, the freelancer’s dream! But, absent the external structures of a show schedule and required outside interactive time, a lot of the scaffolding I’d put up to keep my motivations and focus moving forward fell apart both dramatically and unexpectedly. Add to that the general stress of the news and the specific stress of a few folk being trapped in a house together for all the hours for the first time… it took a while to even start regain my footing in the new world.

Online interactions and self-promotion are both weak points of mine, and admittedly these did not get all that much stronger for much of the pandemic as I flailed about wondering who am I if not a teacher and a convention artist. But over time, I grew a little bolder, a little more capable of talking to strangers on the internet without wanting to hide after every phrase I typed. I’ve joined creative support groups, made friends among strangers, and rekindled friendships that distance and busyness had stifled for so long.

Within that framework, I’ve rediscovered parts of myself that had also been buried within the hustle and panic framework of, frankly, most of my adult life. In particular, the love for writing rekindled. I dragged an old manuscript out of the drawer and typed it up, then set about replacing almost all of its 60,000 words with (currently) about 140,000 new words that, while still not good are at least better than they were.

And drawing never stopped. My focus for it shifted somewhat, though. Without conventions to attend I was no longer creating work “to sell” and instead started creating work to experiment. I learned to make animated gifs to bring characters and moments to life. I practiced character design and shapes language. I took online classes to push my understanding of lighting and composition. And… I drew for fun, and only for fun. I think somewhere in there I finished a whole short webcomic for webtoons.

See? I’m bad at self promotion. But I’m good at making stuff.

And now, after JordanCon, I am reinvigorated for the business side of things. To make things for people again, to connect with folk, and to push myself in different directions. I don’t want to lose that fun that I found over the last couple of years, but I think I’ve found the right balance. I found new motivations, and new structures so that I’m no longer operating like my school days, where my inattentive mind would grasp onto a due date and work myself into the ground to meet it at the last minute. I have a spreadsheet and little clicky timers and a whole self-perpetuating system to keep track of things even if there isn’t external structure in place anymore.

Now I have a show schedule set up for the year. The external motivation is back, but the internal structures are stronger. I’m excited for what lies ahead. I’m excited to see more of the people on the circuit I’ve missed for the past several years, and I’m excited to push myself further in several directions.

This is perhaps a bit of a rambling blog, but I’m trying not to be scared of that anymore. If I let go of that fear, I can use my voice a little more frequently and live the philosophy that I teach my students: a thing does not need to be perfect to be good and worth doing. Whatever gets the words out, do that thing.

It’s good to be back, and thank you all.

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