2015: Reviewed

Every now and then, there comes a year that changes just about everything you thought you knew about yourself. I had quite a few of these in the past decade, and mostly it was negativity that brought about change. 2015 felt different. I felt exposed and open, in the best way. For once, when I let myself be myself, nothing turned out poorly. I figure that’s a good start to things, putting that feeling into words. I was accepted for who I am.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t have much of a plan for the year going into it. I normally say that I do, but I wasn’t prepared for this. I had four jobs this year. Up until May, I was in retail, finishing in the bookshop after an unexpected call for an interview in April. (Unexpected because I’d applied in early March and didn’t hear anything for six weeks.) In January, I worked as a teaching assistant in DCU’s ComputeTY programme, helping out with HTML and CSS. From May until September, I was doing some volunteer video editing for Healthy Food for All, and in April I had started my current job. There was a time when, for about a week I think, I was working three of those jobs, while preparing for my thesis, and working on assignments. That was an exhausting period. I did not plan on that happening.

However, I made it through that. I got all of my assignments submitted, I tracked down a few people for interviews, I had meetings with my peers and celebrations, and, even if it meant going to work on two hours’ sleep one day, I kept up with my new position. After a semester of learning to code more effectively, putting together video assignments and acknowledging an inability to draw early enough (just about) to submit an Animation assignment, and that incredibly busy of period of transition, I felt ready to do just about anything.

L-R: Hot Head, Grease Lightning, Pinball - some imaginary supervillains!

L-R: Hot Head, Grease Lightning, Pinball – some imaginary supervillains!

That brings us up to May, with some omissions. Mostly notably, the Irish YouTubers Creators Day in Google. It marked a change in attitude for me, and gave me a chance to meet a lot of other YouTubers in the country. I felt like I belonged, and I felt like I was beginning to better understand the world of social media. This was a journey that I would continue right up in November, with two more events to attend in the year: VlogIt in June, and BLOGGERCONF in November. At all three events, I took at least a dozen pages of notes, and left with my head spinning with ideas. Combined with everything they taught from a production point of view in my Masters, my knowledge of online video and social media became pretty well rounded this year.

For the sake of convenience, I divide the year into three parts. It helps me differentiate between lecture season, my thesis production, and life thereafter. Lecture season ended with the transition period in May. Then began the real work on the thesis.

We addressed comic book culture. Having only attended a single convention before – in April, in preparation for a presentation to the board – we chose to put together a web documentary exploring comic book culture in Ireland. This was when I really came out of myself. With out first interview in June, and our last in August, and a list of over a dozen to interview (and that was the shortlist!), we had our work cut out for us. We also ended up at four more conventions.

Dublin Comic Con 2015

Dublin Comic Con 2015

All in all, the recording took up almost every weekend from the start of June until the start of August, with some mid-week interviews to address, too. From superhero artists and cosplayers, to a broker, full-time illustrators, community organisers, and publishers, we met people across the entire spectrum of comic book creation and fandom during the production of CO/MIX. If we’d had more time, to record and to edit, we could have gone on to produce something even bigger, and worked with some of the media in the industry in Ireland, but all in all we captured some spectacular stuff, which brought us all around Dublin, up to Belfast, and down to Cork.

During all of this time, I had to learn to work with three completely different types of people, while arranging tickets and press passes for events, collating and organising footage and beginning the pre-production notes for video editing – while putting together a website based a JPEG mock-up. (Thankfully, someone else took over after the HTML and CSS, to attempt to figure out the best way to make the website more dynamic and interesting through Javascript and JQuery.)

Towards the end of the summer, I didn’t have time off. When I wasn’t in work, I was editing video or writing the written report. I didn’t know what to do with myself when we finally submitted it. I’d been pushed to the limit, and I’ll admit that I thought for a while we weren’t going to make it. Somehow, we pulled it off. I’ve already celebrated the results here.

We’re in the third and final part of the year – the part in which I worked full-time and attempted to figure out my future. It doesn’t feel quite so bleak as I might have imagined. Maybe it was the results, maybe it’s the joy of having the entire Christmas period off, and maybe it’s the fact that I finally beat my dad in Scrabble, but as I finish up the year – with BLOGGERCONF and Eirtakon in November, and a couple of attendances at the ComicBooks.ie mini-cons – I’m bringing with me a tremendous amount of unforeseen optimism and excitement.

But that’s a different story.


About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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