Weekly Blog 2/18/19: Beauty for Ashes: Receiving Negative Feedback, Processing Failure, and Starting A Period Of Study

Hey guys! It’s Taylor. I’m here with a bit of a difficult blog, on a bit of a difficult topic: some difficult feedback I’ve gotten, and the process I’ve gone through in integrating that information and figuring out “if I suck at the one thing I really want to do, where do I go from here?”

So, basically, a few days back I showed my latest creation, the comic Beauty for Ashes, issue 1, to a friend. He complimented the art and printing, but said finally: “I can’t follow the story. Like, at all.” It was a punch to the gut. I hadn’t realized that with all the corners I cut – reading lots of comics (but not drawing much), only practicing drawing females (to the detriment of learning to draw males), spending years practicing making comics but never really learning the theory behind it – I realized, after this difficult conversation, that my slacking and freeform study had not resulted in me being able to draw comics. It had resulted in being essentially a writer who can’t plot a novel, or a screenplay author who can’t format. I had the passion and the practice and NONE of the study.

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For a few days I languished in despair (intentionally using dramatic language there – I was being dramatic). My whole world felt jumbled. I had spent the past 15 years or so actively trying to become a comic artist, and, to my mind, had failed. Then a thought came to me – one of my favorite quotes:

“If you need a tree, the best time to plant one was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Meaning that yes, we may waste time, and yes, it may be too late for some things in some senses – but that doesn’t mean you give up. You still plant that tree, and you water it and make the best of what you can.

So I got thinking: What did I do with other art forms that I have gotten good at (novel-writing, painting, etc)? “Practice,” “study,” and “start small” came to mind immediately. With novels, I studied the craft (taking classes and reading how-to books), I practiced (I’ve written 8 or 10 fiction books depending on whether you count picture books), and I started small (the picture books were my first foray into fiction). With watercolor, it’s been a similar path.

For some reason, I guess I’d thought that my years of striving with comics would result automatically in learning. Turns out practice makes progress, but it works a heck of a lot better if it’s combined with academic study (or at least learning from experts) and starting super-micro.

Thus I’ve been coming up with a sort of course of study for myself, going so far as to also learn about “how to teach yourself stuff in general,” involving books and courses on how to make comics. It includes some of Eisner’s instructional works on sequential art, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Making Comics, Hirohiko Araki’s Manga in Theory and Practice, and other resources.

The important thing is…I’m going to study. I’m going to do the homework. I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to be ready to do it, but it takes what it takes. For me it took four comics that didn’t make sense – and some incredibly helpful but very painful feedback – to figure out that I need to do the homework, have beta readers, and study – the same as everyone else.

In the next year or so, I don’t plan to release much in terms of comics, but I’ll definitely still be making art, the Tarot deck, and my blog and YouTube content. It will be a year of practice and study, and that’s okay. I’m excited to tackle this, and I’m excited to see where I end up in 2020.

If you’d like to support this whole operation, please head over to my Etsy shop. You can purchase art, prints, even stationery and Tarot accessories, all handmade by me. And if you’re enjoying my site, please hit the follow button on the right to get notified whenever I post a new blog (about once a week).

Wishing you all the best,

Taylor

Weekly Blog 12/24/18: Writing Scripts, Drawing Manga, and Reading Tarot Cards

Hello everyone!

I’m very excited to announce that I am working on not one, but two manga comics right now – one in the drawing phase and one still in the scripting phase.

The one that I’m currently drawing is Chapter One of My Life On The Sidelines. “But that already came out!” you might say. Well, that’s sort of true. I wrote, illustrated, printed, and published MLOTS’s Prologue, but chapter 1 is what I’m drawing right now. I’ve had the script done for a while, but it’s only now being actually drawn and inked. I’ll be bringing this chapter to you sometime in January.

The one that I’m scripting, I’m almost more excited about. It’s a “dark hero” story, a vigilante hero who defends a town and finally captures his arch-enemy…only to find that disposing of the evildoer is not always as simple as one thinks. It’s a story of redemption and forgiveness, and while it’s not going to be an easy one, I really think it will be an important story to write and tell, both for me to create, and for others to read and experience.

Finally, I wanted to let you all know – and I’m a bit nervous to share this – that I’m now offering Tarot/oracle/angel card readings on my Etsy shop! Yes, you can finally have a reading from me. The readings will be pre-recorded videos that I’ll film of me doing your reading. I’m offering one card and four card readings right now, and on top of that, they’re on sale! So check out the listings for the one card and four card readings. I think people will really like them. 🙂

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Four decks I’m really enjoying: Oracle of the Angels (Blue Angel), Work Your Light Oracle (Hay House), Moonchild Tarot (Starseed Designs), and the Isis Oracle (Blue Angel).

That’s about all. Things have been a lot less crazy lately, or maybe I’m just managing my time better. Regardless, I’m relieved to say that I don’t feel very stressed this week. 🙂

I want to send a special shoutout to the people who shopped at my Etsy shop this week. It really, really helps to have that extra income, however small it may be some months. I’m offering free shipping through the end of December, so if you’d like to order something, now would be a good time. 🙂

Until next week,

Taylor

Image: The Three of Cups card from the Moonchild Tarot. Available at https://themoonchildtarot.com

Weekly Blog 12/17/18 | Comic Scripting, Multitasking Projects, and Day Job Breakthroughs (That I Can’t Talk About)

Hello everyone!

I’m very excited to be coming back to you with good news from my corner of the world: I’m doing much better mentally, after that crazy week of creating tons of art and projects, and am evening out my mood. My paper planning system is helping hugely in this; I’m able to not only track my mood and be aware of where my brain is, but it helps me also to manage my daily habits and do enough self-care but also enough work that I can sleep at night. So, things are pretty good.

I’ve been scripting comics – actual drawing quite often triggers my hypomania (bipolar symptom), but scripting is not a problem. I’m working on My Life On The Sidelines, the next installment being chapter 1, but also Beauty For Ashes, a more grown-up manga about a sort of antihero vigilante who protects women from assault, but has a lot of secrets of his own. The script for Chapter 1 is complete and I’m hoping to release that chapter as a little home-printed comic in spring 2019.

I’m managing a lot of projects right now, and I have to say it’s a bit difficult to work on them all and make progress! My day job takes precedence of course, but then it seems that the Millennial Mystic Tarot, the Hekate Oracle, my poetry, My Life On The Sidelines, and Beauty For Ashes are all tied for second place. It’s really hard to prioritize when you have one clear priority but really haven’t prioritized beyond that. It is fine to have a bottom line – at the end of the day, I HAVE to have done my day job work – but it’s also important to prioritize the littler things.

I don’t know exactly how I’m going to manage that. But I will. 🙂

Finally, I have made a major breakthrough at work…and can tell you absolutely nothing about it. Like, really, my hands are tied here. I would love to describe the process to you, especially the “EUREKA!” moment I had last Tuesday night – but I can’t. It is all proprietary, and in essence, my company owns the technological advancement I made. That’s okay, though. I intend to stay with them a while yet.

I’m off to work now. Wishing you all the best, and hoping you have a great day.

-Taylor

Image for this week’s blog: Joey Belle, a male but somewhat feminine character with bright blue eyes and messy, badly trimmed blonde hair. The image is a portrait, shoulders up, of Joey smirking confidently.