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As 2021 started, I was optimistic that it was going to be the biggest year of my professional career. I’d begun work on my very first, created-entirely-by-me graphic novel, and I had a framework to launch a successful Kickstarter campaign that could bring that book to life – this is what I’d been working toward for years, and doing the writing and illustrating myself, I knew I could make this project happen!

And it did happen… mostly.

I spent the first part of the year writing, scripting, and sharing it with beta readers, and in August I launched the campaign that would determine whether I’d be able to print it; the feedback was great, the campaign was a smashing success and it all exceeded my hopes and expectations!

…then it came time to do the work of illustrating it – and things didn’t go quite the way I’d planned.

I knew the project’s success would rise or fall based on my output, and I trusted my enthusiasm would be enough to keep me moving so I set an ambitious timeline that would push me to work hard – but I neglected to factor in so many things. I still had Patreon deadlines to complete as well as the basic functions of managing a web site and social media presence. I also moved into a new apartment and had the work of furnishing it – all in the midst of a global pandemic – and I had relationships I needed to nurture. I was burning the candle at both ends and I didn’t recognize that I was generally burning myself entirely out.

And then my hand stopped working.

It happened one day as I was inking pages that my hand – my drawing hand – started spasming uncontrollably and I could barely hold the pencil, much less draw a clean line. I put my tools down and tried to shake it off, but it wouldn’t stop. My hand was trying to tell me what I’d been too focused to notice: I couldn’t continue at this pace and I wouldn’t be able to move forward until I adjusted my expectations.

I reduced my daily output, I allowed myself to take more breaks, and I reminded myself why I was working on this in the first place: this is a project that means so much to me and it’s a story that needs to be shared.

Thankfully, my hand has stopped spasming. I’m continuing to work on the graphic novel (and making great progress) but I’m stopping when I need to and I’m less concerned with the timeline… it will be done when it’s done. It’s still the project I’m most excited about and I’m still giving it my best effort, but I want to enjoy the process and I want to have the energy and motivation to keeping moving forward when this book is done.

I’m optimistic for what 2022 – the new biggest year of my professional career – will bring: Z Class: The Beginning should be ready to distribute by summer, I’ll be able to share this book with people around the country (pandemic willing), and I will begin writing the next chapter of this story… all while remembering to slow down, take care of myself, and savor the experience.

Let’s do this!