Weekly Blog 2/11/19: My Writing Journey, the Art of the Novel, and Future Plans

Hey guys, it’s Taylor and today I’m writing a blog all about novels and my love of them – and how that love figures into my plans for my creative life, going forward.

So, the story so far: I’ve been reading since beyond memory, which means either that I don’t remember as far back as most people or I learned to read before most people, or maybe both. According to my parents I was picking out word at 3 and reading at 4, but I honestly don’t remember much before I was 5 or 6, so it’s kind of all conjecture and “he-said-she-read” at this point. The important thing, though, is that I’ve been reading for about 25 years at this point, and that it started early.

I’ve always loved books, but novels are really my sort of cozy, happy place. You know that awesome commercial where Nick Jonas paired with Cigna to recommend talking to your doctor about your mental/emotional health? Well, if Nick’s happy place is a cozy little living room with a fireplace, music, and a puppy, then mine is just about anywhere as long as I’ve got a novel.

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(A few of my favorites. Image: a stack of paperback novels, including Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Half Life by Shelley Jackson, An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle, DUNE by Frank Herbert, and Book One of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.)

But at some point there was a big shift in how I viewed novels and what I thought of them – and that was the moment that I realized oh, there are people who actually write novels, for a living. The awareness of the existence of novelists changed me. I suddenly decided (at age 8 or 9) that I was going to be a novelist.

Over the subsequent 20 years, I got into art, comics, and illustration – and I do love those things, don’t get me wrong – but see, I’m not one of those people who believes you can’t do all your passions, that you have to limit yourself, and that even some things you truly love have to fall by the wayside for one or two to succeed. I do believe in prioritizing and working on a limited number of things at a time; but I also really believe in following all of your deep passions.

For me, art and comics and Tarot are a big part of my heart, but another big part – that hasn’t seen the light of day much lately – is writing novels. And that part of me is starting to come to light again.

I was on a trip recently that involved a lot of plane trips and airport layovers, and I am not exactly a comfortable flyer. I often half-joke “I like flying – I just don’t like airports, security, takeoff, landing, or turbulence!” So, despite it being a business trip (not much time to write), I brought a traveler’s notebook and pens and wrote pretty much constantly on my travel days.

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(I didn’t bring ALL of these notebooks – just the traveler’s notebook on top. Image: a pile of varied notebooks, planners, and journals, topped with an overstuffed, over-decorated traveler’s notebook.)

Now, I hadn’t made plans on what I was going to write, so I kind of just wrote whatever. Part of it was journaling, but a bunch of what came out was scenes for a rewrite of a story I’ve had in my head for several years. It was originally called Prysm and was going to be a straight romance, and it’s somehow morphed into more than just a romance, and definitely not straight. It’s also taken on the working title Freefall – or, as a friend of mine has nicknamed it, “Lesbians In Space.” (Hey, my friends are awesome, what can I say?)

So, honestly, I have to acknowledge that I have a lot of projects right now, and I’m shuffling them around a little. Some things are being back-burnered, some things are being shelved, but so far as I can tell, nothing that I’ve promised “coming soon!” is getting put on pause. I promise that the Millennial Mystic Tarot is very much still coming out – I’m actually working steadily on that; it’s just a big project that takes a long time to do regardless. The stuff that I’m shuffling around is mostly behind-the-scenes, in-the-works projects that I haven’t made public yet.

I have mixed feelings about shelving anything, and I’m not doing it without serious consideration. My experience with the Millennial Mystic Tarot has taught me that the key to completing a big project is to stick with it and not allow distractions to drag you away. But at the same time, I can’t deny that being a writer is still one of my dearest dreams.

So I’ll keep you posted – about the Tarot deck, the novel, and all other future plans. If you’d like to stay informed on them, please hit the follow button on the sidebar.

And until next time, I hope you’re having a fantastic day.

-Taylor

Weekly Update 4-30-18 | Time Off, Game On!

Hey guys, it’s Julian. And I have been away.

Well, not really away. I’ve been right here, mostly making and packing and listing stuff for my Etsy shop. I hit 25 sales and I think Etsy’s algorithms must have (for some dumb reason) rewarded that, because all of a sudden I’m hecka busy and getting 3 orders a WEEK instead of 3 orders a month!

Like I said. Hecka busy.

I’ve been actually taking time off of my Tarot deck, and “artsy art” in general. I say artsy art because I NEVER want to say that things like design and bookbinding are not art. Making traveler’s notebooks and inserts is no less art than painting, so if you’re more a craftsperson than a painter, don’t ever say to yourself that you’re not an artist! But yeah, I’ve been working on bookbinding more than sketching or inking.

But it’s time to get back to it. My deadline for the inking of my Tarot deck is (hopefully) in mid-June, and I just found out I’m going on a super remote camping trip in May, so I really don’t have time to be taking a break.

I don’t really regret the break. I didn’t draw for about a week, and that’s okay. I was in the middle of losing a job and re-negotiating a lease, so I was emotionally exhausted and just couldn’t face the blank page on top of all that. All’s well now, though, and I really feel that it’s time for me to get my head back in the game.

Deciding when to take a break is not something I put a huge amount of thought into. If I’m too exhausted/overwhelmed/emotionally fried to deal with art, then my art is going to suffer anyway and I’ll have to take a longer break later, so unless I’m really close to a deadline, I don’t tend to think much of taking a break. I don’t take long breaks – rarely longer than a few days or a week – and I don’t plan my break. I don’t plan the end of it, at least. I just tell myself “I’m on break right now and I don’t need to think about work until I’m back to work.” Then, once I’ve been on break long enough to be able to think straight, THEN I think about getting back to work and when I should do that.

So that’s what I did this week. Monday I just said to myself “I feel dead, I’m working on losing a job and getting a new job, plus I have to deal with the leasing office, I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a break.” And it is Monday again and I didn’t really think about deadlines or workload or what percent I’ve finished, until yesterday. At which point…yes, I did freak out a bit and hurry back to work and inked 3 pieces.  And that’s freakin’ great! As long as I can finish my work, as long as the project gets done, I’m happy.

My point being: As much as possible, take breaks when you need to, and as much as possible, don’t stress while on break. But don’t let yourself STAY on break too long. I’m in a bit of a luxurious situation in that right now, at least, I CAN take a break from my art job for 5 days in a row. Not everyone can do that. I can’t break from my day job, but I can at least take away the stress of assigning myself 7-10 art pieces a week too.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. And that goes for caring for yourself, too. 🙂

Anyway, thank you to everyone who’s been reading along, watching YouTube videos, buying from my shop…it’s awesome to have this much support. 🙂 I’m really excited about upcoming videos (and yes, there are upcoming videos!), and am going to continue to do 2 a week whenever possible. I really do appreciate everyone’s support, though. You guys are the bestest. 🙂

~Julian

Weekly Update 12/11/17 | Shipping Wars, Prismacolor Pencils, and BAKUMAN

Hey y’all! It’s Julian.

It has begun. The shipping wars of December 2017 have begun.

What I mean, of course, is the process of producing, packaging, and shipping all the holiday gifts I’m sending out this year. And if you’ve ever done this, you know that “war” is only a moderate exaggeration.

I’ve chosen FedEx as my partner in battle this time around. Currently, an amazing piece is in their hands, headed to Chicago. I’ve had no complaints with FedEx so far, so they’ll be my partner going forward.

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I’m busily working on other pieces, and yes, I’m working with Prismacolors now!! SO in love with these things. I got the 150 set, only because they were on sale for like $47 on Black Friday. But they are now mine, safely in my hands, and I intend to use them to the best of my ability.

I’ve also begun to really use the local library system again…mostly for reading manga, yes, but also for picking up books on writing, drawing, and publishing comics. Here are a few I’m reading right now:

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BAKUMAN (Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata) – Created by the author and artist of Death Note, BAKUMAN tells the story of two high-schoolers who aspire to become manga artists. Through a classic manga-style Odd Turn of Events, our hero, Moritaka Mashiro, makes a pact to become a published manga artist, WITH his work turned into an anime, before he’s 18. I’m only 2 volumes into this series, and it’s at least 20 long, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

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Making Comics (Scott McCloud) – This is pretty much my core text as a comic artist. I don’t own a copy but I borrow one from the library from time to time. It’s the basics of creating comics – whether comic books, manga, or graphic novels – all told in graphic novel form. Very fun, very educational, very important work.

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The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing Comics (Comfort Love and Adam Withers) – I haven’t read this one at all yet but it looks awesome. It’s by a husband-and-wife team who started self-publishing comics in 2008, and were doing it full time in 2009. Which is incredible. So I wanted to read this and pick the brains of the experts!

Well, that’s all I’ve got this week. I have a couple of videos coming your way, though, so stay tuned for that!

~Julian