Chapter Three: Jamet’s Story: Page 97

All right, all right,¬†I’ll admit defeat and post this already. See? See? Here I go, I’m posting it! Fine! Fine!

All right. So I’ve been actually kind of informed that I need to take a break from the comic. I feel like a captain relieved of duty by the medical officer. My medical officer this time around is Tim, who has to put up with me on a daily basis, and I suppose he’s right (he’s got both my parents, my best friend, and even my French translator in agreement, after all…). I have to admit, very reluctantly, that keeping Prophecy of the Circle running smoothly hasn’t been super easy since I moved, and especially this last year with a new home and a new job, trying to keep up is starting to really hurt me. A lot’s changed over the years, but the biggest problem is that in an attempt to make this an actual successful venture of some sort, I keep trying to cram more effort into what’s become a shrinking amount of time.

When I started this comic, things were a lot different. Those of you who’ve been following know this story already, but I want to review just to put it all in perspective. At the beginning, way back in 2010, I was only doing the comic itself, nothing extra, and I was living with family and only working casual hours in retail to make ends meet, so I had plenty of time. My minimum standard of living shifted again when I had to move out on my own and so I stepped up into a part time job, 24 hours per week that paid ridiculously well; it cut my creative time a bit but it was still workable, and that was a perfect balance. Then… chaos. I was laid off, the economy in my home province took a severe nose-dive and threatened a lack of any work at all for the foreseeable future, and my life took an abrupt right turn because an exit to that awful situation presented itself, if I was willing to take the leap, but it would be scary and rough before it got better. I was in a distance relationship with Tim then, Tim who lived in an entirely different province, but one that offered employment opportunities and an actual genuine arts community that my current home didn’t have, and so I ended up looking at dropping five digits of my savings (read: ALL of my savings, MORE than my savings; I had to squirrel funds away like crazy for that) into picking up my life and shuffling it over mountains and flatlands and coast and ocean and out to an island where I would have no family or friends of my own within immediate reach. Scary, but it was the plan. I did it. I threw out about 50% of my possessions, packed up the rest and my cat, paid an awful lot of money to transport and then store it and transport it again and then store it again AND THEN TRANSPORT IT AGAIN, cried a lot, doubted a lot, spent a lot of nights wide awake staring at the ceiling listening to my brain scream in terror… you know. Like you do. It did work out eventually and yes, there’re a lot of employment opportunities here for sure, but there aren’t so many places to live, so we ended up also having to commit to buying a small condo (well, getting a ton of help to buy said condo; neither one of us could have done it alone or together, even) and locking ourselves in with that because the rental market was a big no. There was the occasional appliance explosion over the last year, maintenance and repair costs, I had to replace the things that I couldn’t move in the first place, and I ended up starting my new job like… the day after we moved in to our new home (STRESSFUL) so I’ve spent this whole year rebuilding and learning and adapting and doing a lot of lying on the floor repeating “Why did I do this?!” and reminding myself that staying where I’d been would have actually been much worse…

At any rate, I did land. I did move. I did acquire a home. I did acquire a job. But life also changed shape dramatically from what I was working with when I began this story, and even from how life was pre-lay-off. Now things are more difficult for the comic, even if they’re better for my life. I’m over the moon to be living with the one I love finally. I can’t lie, this place I live in is beautiful. I’m doing pretty good in my normal human life. But life in general out here is also more expensive than it is in the snowy prairies. I’ve had no real choice but to be working 40 hours per week like a normal adult in order to keep the roof over my head and food in the fridge, and that 40 hours takes a significant chunk of time out of what I used to have to work with. Losing 16 hours a week from comic-making and putting it into the day job is… a big loss of time. Very big. Especially considering all I try to do.

And as I said, when I started this I was just doing the comic. Not anymore. In the past couple of years I’ve also been trying to make something of myself as an artist and a writer, partly (mostly?) in the hopes that I can increase how much money I make as an artist, and therefore decrease the number of hours I need to spend at a desk in an office, and instead put that time back into things like the comic and my writing and my art so that they aren’t rushed anymore and I’m not stressed out and this doesn’t keep happening. This is what they warned me about when I was young: being an artist is goddamn hard. I’m trying, though. In the past year, I’ve been trying really hard to juggle the comic and making Patreon better so that it maybe doesn’t stay stagnant like it has been, and attempting marketing (I’m not good at that bit but effort needs to be put in) and finding tricks to balance it all and keep my head above water and… Ultimately, I’m finding that I just can’t do it. Not with that 16 hours per week missing. I can’t get ahead while running the race. I can’t find any spare time while i’m constantly having to spend and buy time instead. I’m running on empty, going paycheque to paycheque time and energy-wise, and every time something goes wrong or something needs updating or I just want to spend my time in a new way and do something different for once, it costs me so much that I almost can’t recover. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been good for me. I’m depressed, I’m stressed to an unhealthy level, and I never keep up.

The problem is that I can’t ditch any of it. Prophecy of the Circle is what all of you care about. On its own, it doesn’t make me a dime but it costs me 20 to 30 hours a week just to make, say nothing of maintenance and community engagement and efforts to make the experience better. It is what all of you care about, though, and that keeps me pouring those hours into it… Patreon is what pays for Prophecy of the Circle to exist. Besides the amount of time it costs to make this work, there are financial costs to it, and I am super stoked to say that so far Patreon can cover those, which is so helpful. I’m so ridiculously grateful for everyone who contributes, but it’s not a stopping point. Realistically the total I earn there wouldn’t even cover my groceries for the month, it’s been plateaued for a long while, and with no extra time or energy to put into my weeks I’m rather struggling with ways to make either it or Prophecy of the Circle more interesting in order to make them both worth the time I put into them. I’ve been trying some new things over at Patreon, but it’s still a game of cut one thing out to make room for another instead of building on a sum total of awesome. In order to do better, I’d need more resources and those are not easy to acquire. Still, Patreon has potential. Patreon proves that I have potential. I just need time to explore it.

Prophecy of the Circle, as much as it’s beloved and as much as it’s important to me, is the biggest thief of my time in a given week with the smallest immediate payback. I don’t want to ever have to bail on it and I’ll try everything I can to keep it rolling short of completely wrecking my health and sanity, but for now it makes the most sense to temporarily stop the ride so that I can focus on getting ahead and getting better. I’m going to try putting it on pause while I build that buffer I keep talking about needing. I had it once, a whole bunch of weeks’ worth of comics, and then I had to rebuild the site and that ate nearly the whole thing again. I don’t know for sure if building it back up again and then just maintaining it will actually work to balance the scales overall or not, but it’s the only thing I’ve got left to try, and my hope that if I don’t have to keep constantly creating two weeks’ worth of content every week just to stay a little bit ahead of the game, that if I can instead just worry about one weeks’ worth of story at a time, then maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the tiny bit of the clock back that I need to get me back to where I’m happy and not squished. Maybe that’ll be enough.

So I’ve been told to take a break. A decent one. I have a couple more comics in the queue, until November 23rd, and I’ll let those few run down, but after that, Prophecy of the Circle is going to go dark until February 5th. I need to the time to catch up, to really figure out my time management, and to get back to a position of strength. If it works, great. If not… well, we’ll figure that out when we get there. Maybe I have to update at an even slower pace. I really don’t want to because this story is better without big gaps in between the pages – I already know that some of my readers prefer to do an annual binge-read instead of following week-to-week, which is cool but telling – and slowing it down means it’ll take even longer to tell but, well, I’m missing 16 hours a week out of necessity. Gotta eat, gotta live. I can’t pull those lost hours out of thin air and I needed them to keep going as before.

So we’ll see what happens.

And if you miss my stuff, as always, the Patreon is where I talk and post art and writing when I have enough brain to do so. I post publically as well as for patrons only, so if you even only want to come watch for the freebies and drop comments now and again, I’d welcome hearing from you guys. If you want to leave a tip, well, the monthly rates are pretty cheap and you know by now that it’s more than appreciated.

I’m sorry that I’m not a more resilient critter. My kingdom for a 48 hour day? :/