Half a month into 2017, and there have been some developments in my creative life. There have been some updates on the comic front, along with a plan in place for a couple of larger projects, and a regular IRL writing group to keep me going throughout the year. But first, a quick check on my one big January plan: to write a story every day this month. Up to and including yesterday, I wrote 15 stories in 15 days. I have to do that again to finish my month’s goal of writing a short story every day, but so far I can happily report that I have not failed at the one important thing I could possibly do this year.
Early into the year, a friend approached me to write a comic with him. It’ll just be a short, within a collection of comics, but for each of us it’ll be a first: my first time writing a comic script that’ll see actual print, and his first time drawing an original character into print.
The artist is Gareth Luby, a friend from the Geek Mart who made his convention debut at Dublin Comic Con last year. I’ve seen the evolution of his style and the development of his work ethic over the past fifteen months or so, from black-and-white illustrations to full-colour comic covers, and a short grey-scale comic for Celtic Knights. Before I met him, in late 2015, he’d come up with an idea for a character he wanted to draw, but never did.
The script is in the editing stages, to be sent off today. (That’s January 16th for those who may be reading this at a later date who don’t want to scroll to the top of the page.) We’ll discuss it until we’re sure it’s how we both want the character to appear in print, then Gareth will be getting to work on developing Frankie into his own 8-page story. The plan: bring it to K-Con.
Conventions: Why 2017 Is Sorta Scary
Tables for K-Con went on sale a few weeks ago. I secured mine straight away. It’s on April 1st and 2nd in Kerry. A statement from a Dublin-based printer gives us a latest deadline of mid-March to have the book finished. We’ll have a couple of artists each working on a couple of stories from a couple of writers. It’s going to be exciting and stressful at the same time. I would like to say that another script I’m developing for a third artist would be finished in time for a print run at the same time, but I have yet to discuss such things with the artist I approached about the book. (She liked the concept, but I still need to get her a script. So we’ll see how that one plays out.)
K-Con is in its first year, which is normally something to be wary of. However, being run by the folks behind Dublin Comic Con, there’s a certain confidence that it’ll go down well. Obviously there are concerns. Everyone worries about whether the convention they’re heading to will be a success, whether it’s their first big convention or not.
And that’s the thing: this will be my first big convention behind the table. I’ve only ever been the guy with a camera ready for photos and videos, or with a backpack just begging to be loaded up with small press books. (I have so many small press titles now that I’ve gotten to the point that I can actually recommend a number of comics to people based on their tastes.)
But then, on January 7th, things got scarier. More exciting, too, of course. Myself and Gareth secured our tables for Dublin Comic Con. The biggest convention in Ireland. In the National Convention Centre.
I believe that I’m coming to the conventions with a couple of safety nets. Firstly: my experience with the Geek Mart and behind the till for 8 years in a bookshop tells me that it’s not as scary in real life as it is in my head. Secondly: not every book sells, not every person reads books, and everyone who’s trying to sell something is in the same boat of relative anonymity with people who haven’t already picked up their wares. Thirdly: no matter how well I do at either convention, two things will remain the same. I will still have my IRL writing group, and I will still have books to write and stories to tell.
When you have creative people working around you, whether that’s my fantasy writer friends, the comic creators from The Comics Lab, or any of the crafty or artsy vendors at the Geek Mart and similar events (the Venn Diagram of these groups contains some overlap), the fear of failure is somewhat lessened by the knowledge that failure will not stop you creating something. There’s always some encouragement to keep working. The Geek Mart, for me, is enough of a push to write that by its next instalment (on February 4th) I’ll have a dozen short stories to go along with my books – some of which were written explicitly for the Geek Mart.
So, here’s the game-plan: January has another 15 days to do (including today.) That means I’ll produce another 15 short stories.
I’ll also need to finish at least three comic scripts. Frankie will need to sent on today. My other short for that book could benefit with some work today. My standalone comic needs to be written by the middle of the week. I’ll see how I am for time, but there’s another story I’ve been talking about writing for a long time, that needs to be planned out in a full story-arc.
I need to finish the Project Crossroads documentary. Thankfully, my creative energies are high at the moment.
I need to prepare for a comic and graphic novel course in February. Daily-drawing practice is probably a good idea. I’m tempted to add that to my Things To Do Every Day in January list. I’m already doing StoryStorm this year as an idea-generation tool for the short stories.
I need to work on my sales and marketing techniques for my books, both for conventions and for online sales. No creative can survive by hiding from those two fundamental aspects of bringing something to life. With my next event in just under three weeks, that’s how long I have to get started on refining some pitches, and on further developing my confidence behind the table. I’ll have another Geek Mart in March before K-Con. Then that’ll be it. Showtime.
Thank goodness for creative friends, killer cats, and online communities bursting with resources.