Some people may be wondering if I've disappeared off the map. I wonder the same thing myself sometimes. I've had a lot of R&R time here in Missouri, more than I thought possible for myself. So what have I done with all this amazing mana-from-heaven free time? Did I use it to further my career? No. Did I change my life in any fundamental way? Nope. Did I get engaged or married? No, but I got a puppy. Did I get a novel published? No, but I'm still trying. Did I write a new novel? No, but I wrote the first half of one.
Mostly, I spent the last few months trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life. I'm at a major crossroads. Do I want to remain in the game industry or seek a new start? Do I want to work for myself or for a major corporation? Do I ever want to settle down and raise a family? How much effort is my writing non-career worth, and what balance should I seek?
These may seem like simple choices to you. You've probably already made the decisions, and they're sealed ... or you have a very strong idea of what you want in life.
When I was in high school, people would tell me how envious they were of my ability to KNOW what I wanted in life. They would say, "You're so lucky you're an artist; you know what college to go to and what job you'll have afterwards." And I felt lucky. I loved having my shining future planned out. Of course, at the time, I never doubted that I would be highly happy and successful by the age of 25. I saw myself as the next James Baxter of animation, or maybe I'd be like Brad Bird and direct my own blockbuster animated features.
Okay, I'm not in Los Angeles any more. What's more is, I don't particularly WANT to move back to Los Angeles. The city is loud, smoggy, expensive, pretentious, and animation is often not the glamour job it's reported to be. I lived in Los Angeles for twelve years. I have unpleasant memories of applying at TV and movie studios, and taking on crappy freelance jobs. My animator friends have similar experiences. The industry hasn't changed. But I've changed. My tolerance for the low pay, job instability, and lack of respect towards artists has gone way, way, way down. I almost enjoyed it at age 22. I wear my bad experiences like a badge of honor. Animation is like a fraternity; you have to get hazed by bad jobs before other animators will admit you're one of them. But my hazing days are over. I've been there and done that.
I'm moving to Austin, Texas, with my boyfriend Phil. Austin is a city of technology and video game development. I took a break from full-time work while we lived in Missouri, but I plan to pick up my career in Austin. I have a lot of worries about what sort of job I'll be able to find. I want something that's fun, challenging, and pays well. I'm worried that such a job doesn't exist, so what do I settle for?
And then there's my love life. I won't be airing any details here (sorry to disappoint), but Phil and I disagree on one major, important issue. I'm afraid to think in terms of engagement and marriage right now, because this one issue does not allow for compromise. Could I ever be a mother and raise kids? If you know me, you know my reaction. And being a mother means making all kinds of sacrifices that I think would lead me into deep depression. I don't feel as if I've fulfilled my potential in life yet. I don't want to cut short my remaining opportunities. Yes, I really want to leave a mark somewhere. I want to have an impact in the book industry, or in games, or on the internet. I feel as if I can make an impact, given the right time and resources. I don't feel as if my "destiny" (using a cliche here) is to be someone's mom. You may go ahead and cite J.K. Rowling as an example of a mother who made her mark, but I dare you to name another.
And then there's my goal of being a career novelist. I've aimed a lot of effort into this goal over the past ten years, and so far, the tree ain't bearing no fruits. My mantra is "I will keep trying to get published, even when I'm 80 years old." But now the question becomes one of balance. How much time is this effort worth? I write novels instead of making new friends. I write novels instead of updating my animation reel and applying for jobs. I write novels instead of furthering my software skill set. I get nice reader reactions, but I have trouble inducing any literary agents or publishers to look at my work. I write because I believe in my ability to communicate and affect readers, and because it's fun ... but should I refocus my efforts on another project in another medium? Maybe I should create my own animated show. It would require more work and it might be a hair less fun for me, but it would get more immediate reactions and hone my art skills.
I could work on my Darwin's Gap project and finish a funny webisode or two. My short animations might gain noteriety in contests and stuff.
I could make a more serious animated show, set in my Torth universe, and put it all online for free. This might generate interest in my novels.
I could create and maintain an educational website about a subject I'm interested in, and keep it entertaining, thereby gaining noteriety.
I could found my own art outsourcing company for video games, and try to make life better for video game artists.
I could finish my horror-thriller screenplay, enter it in contests, and try to get my foot into the screenwriting industry. Maybe I'll have better luck there than in novels.
I could get a job as an environmental artist to further my 3D skills (I already know animation and low poly modeling), use this knowledge to create an amazing 3D short film set in my Torth universe, and use the film to generate interest in my novels or get a job at Pixar.
I could write story and dialogue for video games, and possibly design a game based in my Torth universe, thereby generating interest in my novels.
I could go into architecture or marketing, and learn completely new things in a completely different industry.
Or I could continue writing novels and wait for one of them to sell to a major publisher.
Tell me, what would be the best use of my time? I can't decide. I can't do all of the above (unless I get another 300-400 years of life). Every option has pros and cons, and I always second-guess my choices.
Enough of that. For your viewing pleasure, I've posted puppy photos of Saphira (below). She's a nine-month old heeler-basenji mix. We adopted her from a shelter. She's very sweet, friendly, and playful, and oddly quiet for a dog.
And our cat Fiona is up on the LOLCATS website! Here's the links:
So is our neighbor's cat, Mary: