I’m going to be honest with you
I’ve drawn almost nothing in six months.
This past April, I quit making The Big Crunch so I could relaunch it as a graphic novel. It was the right decision, but it means that I’ve spent most of my sparse free time writing histories, inventing character biographies, scrawling maps and wandering in my head. In the meantime, I’ve drawn almost nothing, except for chicken scratches in my journals that aren’t worth posting here or anywhere.
Almost every creative project I’ve done in the interim has been a failure. I made a one-shot for Free Comic Book Day that I rushed and was embarrassed to put out. I made a website that posts drawing warmup prompts for artists, which failed to draw more than two visitors a day and now lies dormant. I helped a friend color a comics project that, in all honesty, I didn’t have time for. I was let go from that project, and it could’ve cost me a friendship. Thank God it didn’t.
I’m working behind the bar, a lot. We’ve been short-staffed for two months, which is right in the middle of our busiest season. I’m working every Wednesday through Sunday evening, about fifty hours a week including management duties. I like tending bar, but I always intended for it to be a part-time gig, which is hard to do when you’re working for your family’s restaurant, because you feel responsible and want to work as hard as you can to ensure its success. Meanwhile, I live and work on the opposite schedule of everyone I know. What little foothold I ever gained in the New Hampshire social scene, I’ve lost. I haven’t been on a date since last winter. I barely have time to see or talk to family. And I definitely don’t have much time to make art or invest in a career outside restaurants.
I quit drinking six weeks ago. I wasn’t drinking enough to get myself in trouble, but I was drinking to the point of quiet self-destruction. I’m not saying it’s forever, but I have to feel like it’s permanent to maintain the discipline. Until one drink stops magically turning into six, I’m not going back.
I started training for a half-marathon a few months ago. It’s coming up in November. I had to take it easy these last two weeks, partly because it’s hard fitting 10-mile runs into my work schedule, and party because of … erm … problems that 30-something long distance runners deal with sometimes. I’ll spare you the details.
I’m a little numb, to be honest. I feel like I’m sleepwalking most of my waking hours. I’m not happy, I’m not sad. I’m just here. I feel very far away from any career in writing, illustrating, designing, developing — anything I set out to do five years ago. I feel very far away from the friends I’ve made in New Hampshire and from the family I love, even though geographically they’re closer now than they’ve ever been. I feel very far away from the 13.1 miles I’m supposed to run in three weeks. I feel very far away from Blastich, Querek, Nayulea, Luuc, Frelzo and the rest of The Big Crunch cast, who now hold a place so deep in my heart that I can’t imagine abandoning them now, even though I have so little time to give them the platforms they deserve. I feel very far away from who I was six months ago, the man who quit drawing an extraterrestrial gag strip because he knew he wanted something bigger.
So I’m drawing. I’m drawing a page a day in my journal, and I’m writing a page a day in my journal, too. I’m drawing and writing until I wind up whatever tether has slackened, that has left me adrift here in space, until my head is clear and I am earthbound again. And I’m telling you all this because, frankly, I’m tired of listening to how okay everyone is. I can name maybe four people in my life that were ever okay for any considerable length of time. The rest of us are a maladroit mess, juggling a dozen things at once and shattering most of them on the ground. And what, we’re going to deny our jittery clumsiness, pretend every plate is spinning perfectly on our chins like we intended, so we can maintain our “personal brand”? To hell with that. I’m not a brand. I’m a human, and a shitty fucking juggler.
I don’t know how much I can fix in my life. But I’ve drawn almost nothing in six months. And I’m damned sure going to fix that.