I love this time of year. I err towards the sincere and earnest, so between connecting with family and friends around December holidays and self-reflection at new year, I'm in my element.
And so, here on new year's eve it's time to say: farewell, 2014! This was a big year, but not a simple one. Professionally, this year I:
- quit my magazine job and launched full-time in to my own freelance & personal creative practice in March, which was equal parts terrifying and liberative.
- sold out of my 1,000 print run of In the Sounds and Seas: Volume I in early winter (so about a year after initial printing) and reprinted an equal number, now sitting frozen in boxes in my studio; I also outlined, penciled, inked and published Volume II in a mono-tasking marathon this summer, and made a new mini-comic Self-Dual for TCAF.
- completed just under 30 pages of freelance illustration work, half of which was comics, which feels pretty solid for a first year out the gate.
- tabled at Chicago Zine Fest, Brooklyn Zine Fest, TCAF, SPX and the St Louis Small Press Expo; I was honored to do the art for the 2014 Chicago Zine Fest, and I'm spectacularly proud of the success that CAKE 2014 was and that CAKE 2015 is shaping up to become.
- attended my first artist residency at Ragdale, where I planned out a new book, made new friends and learned more than I expected about how I can best schedule open hours for writing.
- had work in two gallery shows, "Superheroines" at Werkspace and "Like Comics Without Panels" at Harper College, which culminated in a genuinely fun panel discussion and Q&A with students and faculty.
- had my books picked up by two wonderful distributors, Radiator Comics and So What? Press. I'm relieved and full of gratitude for all the work they have done to help my books find their ways in to stores, because I am totally horrible at that aspect of the book-making business.
While those are terrific things to add to a professional CV, personally this year was surprisingly rough. There was no trauma to point to, no loss or crisis or easy-to-identify hardship, but I'm glad to move past this year nonetheless. I traveled too much and spread myself out too thin, I think; between the travel for comics shows, the three-week-long residency and travel to visit family (two week-long trips to Texas, a second trip to St Louis and a week in Portland), it feels like I spent too much time away from home—away from work routine, gym routine, time with my crushingly wonderful husband Tom, and (crucially) from introvert-mandated down time. I struggled on and off with a pale blue depression over the year, with the "off" parts relieved mostly when I was too busy with work to think about it. Between comfort-eating through the blues and lack of routine and time, I put on weight and lost a lot of basic physical fitness, which feels crummy as someone who once upon a time (all but two years ago) proudly identified as an athlete.
I also look back on 2014 as a year of dazzling connections. I thrive in time alone, and in years past I've struggled with intense social anxiety, but this year I tried harder to open myself up to new connections with people. I recently told a friend that I can be cautious in being too socially available because I fall in love easily, and I rarely have the emotional resources or time to respond to those feelings as generously as I'd like; it's not romantic love, but more like a full wash of recognition of another human being in all of the ways that they are getting through the world, and loving them for doing that. (See: erring toward the earnest and sincere—you were warned!) This year, I got to See and Appreciate so many gems of people, even fleetingly over single dinners or coffee dates, reconnecting with folks I haven't seen in a decade (or more) and getting to know new friends a little bit better. Each one felt like a damn gift, and I'm so grateful.
The new year feels like an opportunity to edit, cutting away the fluff and focusing on the core plot, and I think 2015 has the bones for a pretty great year. I turn 30 in early March, which I will celebrate with Tom in Mexico City (our first non-family-or-work related trip in 9 years together!), so send all of your Mexico DF comics and art tips my way! I'm also going to travel a little less for comics shows to focus on making more books, which is a molasses-slow process for me. My goal is to debut the final In the Sounds and Seas Volume III at Autoptic this August (if I get in), which will wrap up more than 4 years of easily-interrupted work on that story. I'm also looking forward to diving in to this new big, genuinely intimidating book, which I started writing at Ragdale and am developing this winter and spring. I am also going to launch an exciting, ongoing collaborative project in the next month or so (details TBD!). Between that, more focus on self-care and helping make next year's CAKE spectacular, 2015 should be pretty great.
And with that: I'm off to the gym, a few hours of writing towards the new book, and then to a dear old friend's house to wash away 2014 and welcome 2015. Happy new year, friends!