33 (Belated)

In the past, I have always liked to post a long state-of-my-career post on my birthday, comparing my accomplishments over the year to the goals I’d set the previous year. And, of course, setting new goals for the new year. It’s been a couple of years since the last time I did this. (In fact, it’s over a year since the last time I blogged at all.) Since I’m starting the blog up anew, it seems worthwhile to begin with just such a stock-taking. Unfortunately, due to the breaking of my archive, I don’t have my last birthday post to compare against, but I think it’s still worth going over the achievements and progress of the past couple of years.

So, where do I stand?

  • I published my first book, Character Design for Graphic Novels, co-written with Steven Withrow. But that’s old news now—the book is two years old, and well on its way toward out-of-print. Still, it’s offered many levels of satisfaction, as I’ve heard more than one instance of it being adopted for classroom use, both here in the states and abroad (Korea!).
  • I’ve completed a couple of short stories in the past couple of years—Bring Your Daughter to Work Day and Lending Can Openers. A third story, How to be a Malcontent, is finished, but the artist and I are still deciding how we want to publish it. While I like the stories individually, as a body of work, these are pretty modest for two years’ worth of creative output. I definitely need to ramp things up in the coming years. Fortunately, I have two projects nearing completion right now that should do nicely.
  • I have a second book in the works. Trouble Is is a full-on creative project, a young adult graphic novel. The book has an artist (Shelli Paroline) and a publication contract (SLG Publishing), so now it’s just a matter of turning it into a finished book. My part of this process is nearly done—I’ve completed the first draft and have already done some revisions. Once I get some reader feedback, I can start on final revisions, and should have a final draft well before the start of summer. Then it’s all in Shelli’s hands.
  • I have a potential third book in the works as well. More a novella than a novel, Gingerbread Houses, illustrated by Edward Grug III, is currently updating at ModernTales.com. Technically, this should probably count as my second book, since it will be finished and public sooner than my project with Shelli, but since we don’t have a print publisher for it yet, it may be a little while before it becomes a physical object.
  • And on top of the creative work, I also finally have a serious grown-up job: I teach college writing courses at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and Emerson College; my courses at the latter are all graphic novel writing workshops. Plus, I get hired for the occasional guest lecture at various local schools and libraries, which is incredibly fun to do.

So, looking to the future, here’s what I need to accomplish in the coming year:

  • I still need more income. I only teach part time, so I can spend more time writing. I’ve been surprised at how difficult it is to balance teaching and writing—the trouble is too much of my teaching work has to come home with me at night (prepping class, grading papers, etc.) So going full time isn’t really an option, unless an opportunity to do writing workshops exclusively comes along (very unlikely). That leaves making it from my creative work (slightly less unlikely). I *would* like to do more guest lectures, though.
  • I’m going to have a lot of promotional work to do once Trouble Is hits print. This book presents an opportunity for income, but as a first work, I’m not expecting much. In fact, with cost of cons, travel, and other promotional expenses, it may end up costing me more than I earn. More importantly, though, it can lay the groundwork for future income—get my name out now, so I can sell not just this book, but the next book too. And this is the first in a trilogy, so there really is a direct path from here to future book sales.
  • I want to get Gingerbread Houses into print.
  • I want a wider variety of things to sell at cons, particularly books with spines. Minis don’t sell well at SPX anymore, nor do they sell well at any con I’ve exhibited at other than MoCCA. I sell more copies of my $32 design book than I do my $1 mini-comics. So, books with spines it is. Trouble Is and hopefully Gingerbread Houses should help fix that. I’m also planning to put together a couple of lightly illustrated print editions of my two plays. I don’t expect to sell a lot of copies, but it’s something different to put on a table, and it’s work I’m proud of that not many people have seen.
  • I want to script not one, but *two* new graphic novels in the coming year. I need to do the next book in my series with Shelli, of course. But I want to get a separate project going as well, something aimed at an older audience, and that gives me more freedom for formal/structural experimentation. I’ve got a particular American president in mind for the subject of this next book. No, it’s probably not whom you’re thinking of.
  • I need to get my website cleaned up, redesigned, and profitable. It’s a lot better today that it was at the start of yesterday. It’s working again, and I stripped out a lot of junk that was cluttering it up. I do need to put some of the ads back up. That was never a big source of income, but it was something. And now that I’m regularly updating again, I’m hoping it can do significantly better, especially if I’m smarter about how I build it.

Clearly, I’ve got a lot to do. I should get back to work.