We approach the end of the calendar year, which gets me feeling reflective. It’s been a weird couple of years here, otherwise unrepresentative of how I’ve spent my adulthood, but I think I’ve been consistently the happiest-ever. I’ve always been stressed out as hell and just didn’t know how to…stop stressing.
It’s not that I’m worry-free. I’m just not dogged by the persistent dread I recall from pretty much always.
I became an adult just in time for the recession of ’09; my first and only real job spent several years declining in pay as I watched my hours chopped and the sword of Damocles getting wobblier. By the time I left real employment, I had a year-old baby, and I tumbled screaming into parenthood while supporting the family off artistic self-employment, which made me a *total* mess. Successive near-death medical incidents just totally screwed me up seventeen ways to Saturday. Having never paused to grow up, I struggled real hard.
The last few years leading up to the 2020 pandemic were stuffed with therapy and other psychiatric care, which is good, because that was when I finally, truly, fully burned out and couldn’t do anything.
2020 was rock-bottom misery, loss of identity, pitch black.
In 2021, I was uncertain but waking up and growing up.
In 2022, I was looking around to figure out where I landed.
In 2023, I’ve just been making art, basically. All art, all the time, constructing something expressive out of everything else.
I’m not sure where I’ll be in 2024, but I’ll be lucky if next year looks anything like this one. I feel like I’m building momentum toward something. I just don’t know what.
Captain Pegi comics marked my months-long reinvigorated obsession with Star Trek. I binged the 90s shows in 2020, and then again in 2023, and for a while my identity was just kinda Starfleet.
The story here is that Pegi is actually a half-Tellarite exomalacologist, which means she studies space slugs. She’s very good at what she does but absolutely not cut out for command. But the captain on her ship dies in an accident, the high-ranked officers are in a spat, and Starfleet permits Pegi to take charge. All of the Captain Pegi comics to date are on Wholesome Morbid, my webcomic page.
It’s such a behemoth in my life that I can’t neglect to mention it, even though I chose to do zero (0) work on the project in the back half of 2023.
Atop the Trees, Beneath the Mountains did continue to occupy my time on the front end of the year. You can see a bit about it on Tumblr, but it’s no longer accurately representative of where the project stands, since dramatic edits have happened.
Last I checked, the previous draft was around 280,000 words, the rough draft was about 320,000 words, and there are well over half a million words of drafted material available to me.
I worked on that puppy *hard* for three and a half years straight, including producing a Quite Large appendix that is *mostly* complete. If I took out the chapters I didn’t finish and published it as-is, I wouldn’t be embarrassed. It’s meaty. I left it off at 150 pages.
The future of this book isn’t certain, but I plan to return to working on it once I finish Fated for Firelizards.~
Speaking of Fated for Firelizards.
Another thing I toyed with in 2020 was RenPy and TyrannoBuilder and the whole idea of a romance game. I decided to play with Twine this year, which draws on some of the principles I learned there, without as much an emphasis on art…or so I thought.
Foolish me! At this point, I’m over thirty images for this “mostly just text” game and absolutely going to cross fifty illustrations before I’m done. The actual book won’t be that long if you take a single path–a normal shortish novel. I thought I was keeping the scope small. I am a FOOL. Hahaha.
Anyway, it’s up to Chapter 11 and totally free and you should read it if you’re an adult who likes playful smutty stuff.
One of the things I wrote this year is my favorite-ever pieces of fiction, called The Wolf Made Differently. It’s historical fiction about Vikings. The story used research I’ve been doing kinda casually for years, ever since I visited a Viking museum in Denmark. Apparently this is a historical period people like to see in fantasy, but not so much in normal historical fiction. Oh well! I enjoyed writing it.
The above represents the bulk of my public work for the year, but I’ve had other stuff going on too. I’d like to photograph it all properly so that I can share these collections on my website nicely. Not just with random blurry phone snaps.
But even if all that ^^^ was all I did this year (in addition to loving myself better), I’d say it’s been a pretty fab year!