A new tax year has started and I’ve just received (and paid) for my website renewal. It’s not the biggest cost I’ve had recently, not by a long shot. In the past two months, I’ve paid for a house move, my partner’s car repairs (which as of yesterday I’ll now need to fund more of…), costs for our wedding in October, heck I’m typing this from a holiday chalet because we’re away for a friend’s wedding this week.
Still, while the website renewal is a comparatively miniscule cost I’ve taken a look at what I’m doing with this page. Over the past 12 months, new posts and traffic figures have been in the single digits – for which I take full responsibility. I’ve essentially sat on a domain name for a year and even then it’s technically the wrong domain. A .net address is for networks and I’m… just me. Okay, .co.uk and .com were already taken and I’m being incredibly picky but still…
Domain extension aside, I do need to figure out what I want to do with this website. If I’m paying for it, I want to use it. My name’s on it so surely it should be a reflection of me, right? Well, that invites the larger question of who I am and what I want to be.
Right now, I have multiple hobbies and interests, my hands are in a lot of pots – too many sometimes! Which ones do I want to focus on and present to the world?
Comic-wise, I seem to regularly have a crisis of confidence or a period of apathy. I go maybe two months at a time focusing solely on getting a comic done, usually when a convention is around the corner, followed by three months or so of not picking up a pen.
My other passion, gaming, also suffers. My backlog of unfinished games is massive and yet I keep buying more of them. I also promise myself I’ll do YouTube videos and Twitch streams, I have all the equipment, but I release maybe one video every three or four months.
Thankfully, my day job seems relatively unaffected. I’m in a well-paid full-time Design role where I’m performing well. Admittedly, I sometimes come home thinking “If I see one more Photoshop tab…” but there are days like that in all professions.
Likewise, family life is good. I’m enjoying watching my daughter get into gaming and drawing, my son’s as crazy about Thomas the Tank Engine as I was at his age, and me and my partner are continuing to plan our wedding while enjoying a new season of anime and playing through Persona 5 together.
I was out with my best friends and my brother on Wednesday and there was a game I was looking at on the shelf. I stopped myself from buying it with an over-riding thought of “Who am I buying this for? Who am I trying to impress?” Essentially, it was a title I knew I wouldn’t be able to get around to for a while, I wasn’t sure it would be my thing, but it had a cult following and could make for a good video I’d have likely never have finished anyway. I honestly think I wanted to buy it as shelf candy to impress visitors who already like me enough to come over to my house anyway…
As another example, over a two week period during a house move I somehow sank 50 plus hours into making a Dragon Ball fan game in RPG Maker solely to prank a friend of mine during one of his streams. Essentially the game played like a normal JRPG for 30 minutes before getting very meta and screwing specifically with that friend, even calling him out by name, and we all watched his reaction live on stream. (He was a great sport and everyone had a good time.)
I thoroughly enjoyed doing that, but why? “This is going to be awesome, I can’t wait to see his face!” It was about acceptance, belonging to a community, and also an ego boost to a degree.
I don’t think any of those are the right reasons but they’re similar to my reasons for making comics. I’ve detailed this before, but Arcadia was drawn out of frustration from, at the time, working a call centre job while having done nothing with my degree. Joe Cape was to show publishers I could do superhero narratives when I naively thought I was ready for comics to be my job. Unfamiliar Skies started once I had found a full time Design job but enjoyed being part of the comics community, and Sometimes, I Just Want to Kill You All is just an excuse to vent.
This behaviour goes back even further. In school I was unpopular in the real world but online I was part of a Dragon Ball fan game site called Picceta’s where my sprite art and game releases gave me a sense of belonging. I still spend a lot of time on Twitch, Discord, Twitter, and a handful of forums now despite having a family and close friends.
Another recurring habit is giving up the second something isn’t an instant hit. Joe Cape’s three issues form an arc but the overall story is incomplete. I also need to continue work on Unfamiliar Skies issue 3. That said, even when something goes down well, such as Sometimes, I Just Want to Kill You All, I fail to capitalise on it, follow it up, promote it, and strike while the iron’s hot.
Where am I going with all this? I think I have a couple of issues with discipline and focus, but I’m also questioning my motives. Where’s that need for recognition coming from? Could wanting people to like me and my work actually be pushing people away? Could it give people cause to, rightfully, question and second guess me?
Maybe it’s something else entirely? Maybe having my family and my ideal job has made me content, happy, but also complacent? Things are very good right now, could that be eliminating the need for anything outside this happy little bubble I’ve created for myself?
Ultimately, I don’t know. Finding out is definitely a goal of mine though, and I hope it’s a journey some of you will join me on.