Artsy Tess

For the last two weeks I've been on vacation. During that time I've been preoccupied with two things, recovering from work, and Novella.

The last six months have been particularly challenging as a Software Trainer/Consultant. In July I was asked to help update the course material for our flagship product. The course certainly did need it, and I was more than happy to take a break from the project I was currently working on. By November, not only had I updated the material, but I found myself "owning" all the course material for all of our products. This is still the minority of all of the classes taught by my department, but it certainly explains my exhaustion as of late.

Several months ago I assumed that work would eventually slow down. I would find myself working 8 hour shifts at the office, 5 days a week. This sounds absolutely peaceful compared to the whirlwind weeks of criss-crossing the country every Sunday morning and Friday evening. When it did slow down, I thought, I would have enough time to work on Novella. Sometimes I can work on the story while I'm traveling, but it can be difficult when your option during a flight is four hours of writing in close-quarters, or getting some much deserved rest on the way home. When I was finally home, I could start to work on the Novella Script.

I had decided to start the Script as I was no longer making any progress with the Outline. I figured that if I had a few months to write the script, I would be more than prepared to start drawing the comic in January. Unfortunately, work did not let up as I had hoped, but continued to get more and more busy until Christmas. I simply didn't have the energy to develop the script as I had intended.

Over my vacation, I hoped that I'd have the time to catch up. My plan was to write enough script to feel like I could start drawing the comic after New Year's. Little did I realize just how exhausted I was. It took nearly a week for me to feel like myself again. After that, I still didn't have the creative drive yet to seriously confront the comic. Finally last Friday I decided that I had enough sitting around my apartment.

I grabbed my Vaio laptop, and hit a cafe. I ordered a nice lunch and sat down to reread everything I had produced in the last year.

At the time, I didn't realize it, but the project has made significant progress in the last year. I started with only the characters and story I had in my mind, plus the few surviving notes. From there a 40 page Outline was developed as well as a short script. For the first time since I imagined the comic, there was a planned, continuous storyline. The website has also undertaken a dramatic change. I abandoned my own custom written PHP content system for one based on the Open Source Drupal CMS. I decided this because I didn't want to spend time developing the site when I was supposed to be working on the comic. While I was hesitant at first, this is beginning to show itself as the right thing to do.

After I had laid waste to my Chicken Wild Rice soup and my Roast Beef on Cibatta, I reread the Outline. I was disappointed to find that I still did not like the first chapter of the story. To me, it never felt, "grounded". I'm not sure how to describe it, but I can imagine a reader being very frustrated by it. I didn't think it was without any merit at all, but it certainly needed significant tweaking. If only I knew what. Setting that aside I read my short script. Currently, it doesn't enter into the actual story. Instead it's a sort of introductory chapter to explain the first Novella comic, what happened, and why I'm so nervous now.

That, as you may be wondering, is where the above character came from. This is Artsy Tess, a personification of my creative side, also a character in the introductory chapter. Normally, she wears a smock of some sort, but today she snuck into sleeping Anthropologist Tess' room and "borrowed" her kimono. Pessimist Tess, as you might guess, wasn't happy with any of this. She was even less happy when Artsy told her she wanted to start drawing the comic in spite of the untidy state of things.

And that's where I am today. Do I just throw caution to the wind and start drawing the comic? Or to I tuck my tail between my legs and develop the outline and the script for several more months? Neither are a pleasant prospect. If I start drawing now, I'm afraid that history will repeat itself. I'll produce several comics, and then the whole thing will blow up in my face. If I wait, there's nothing to say that work won't become hectic and draining again. If that happens, I'll find myself in the same place months from now.

The development process seems to have exhausted myself. It's forced me to preciface. If the story is to develop further, I need to have an actual story in front of me. Not a Outline, not even a script. I need to know what actually happens. I need to see what is beyond that cliff and what is in the valley below.

The real question is, when I leap off, do I believe I can fly?

Universe; I hope so.