It’s finally 2015 in this part of the world, the sun is shining, the winds have tapered off, and it’s a pretty nice day. My hangover this morning wasn’t too bad, and by the time we finished breakfast at Blueberry Hill, it was basically nonexistent. I just bought some drastically discounted fonts from Comicraft‘s annual New Year’s Eve/Day sale. The animals are lying around the living/dining room soaking up some rays, and for now, all is relatively peaceful. The year’s not off to a bad start.
I’m not gonna sugar-coat it, though: 2014 kinda sucked. The last time I posted my annual year-end wrap-up/goal assessment was two years ago, and things were pretty good then, despite my band effectively breaking up and a few friends dying. I was looking ahead to 2013, a year of big changes. I just had no idea how those changes would wreak havoc on my life, both personally and professionally, for the next year or two.
The most I can say is that in 2013, most of the things for which I’d laid the groundwork in 2012 came to fruition as planned, mostly: Quitting my cushy job to go full-on entrepreneur. Opening a brick-and-mortar business in Downtown Las Vegas. Ramping up the publishing schedule and visibility of Pop! Goes the Icon. Hitting up non-West Cost comic conventions like Denver Comic Con. Getting married.
But a lot didn’t happen. I took on too much with too few resources after co-launching Creation Forge Studios, ramping up my public relations consulting and expanding my freelance writing options. Because I was now working all the time, with half the pay and none of the benefits or time-off afforded by my previous job, all the plans I had to finish writing graphic novels and screenplays, to produce quality YouTube content, to even just update this blog, all went down the toilet.
And these decisions had a serious impact on my personal life. Sara and I sold our home of four years only a few months after we got married, and shortly after I launched these new ventures, in order to downsize our lives a bit and increase our mobility (also, to take advantage of a peaking real estate market). But we overdid it on the downsizing, moving into a rental house downtown that was half the size of our previous home, and in which we never really felt comfortable or settled in. My stress levels related to now not only having to worry about piecing together a viable income personally but also for a new business was causing a lot of friction at home, and further, apparently turned me into a major grump otherwise.
Hence, I spent 2014 basically just trying to get through each day, fighting bouts of depression, and generally being a miserable human being, all the while seeing this new business gain traction quickly, almost exclusively via word-of-mouth, but finding myself unable to build on that momentum due to undercapitalization (and, let’s face it, just a bad business plan). Sara and I started looking at houses to buy again, perhaps in an attempt to normalize at least that part of our life. And I lost basically an entire year of creative output, between not having the energy nor time available to work on non-paying projects, and not having the funds to finance collaborations. The entire year just blazed by, which I guess is the best anyone can ask for from a less-than-stellar annum, but I’m getting to the age where time moving quickly isn’t exactly the greatest thing, and I have less of it to go around.
Despite the money pit-like woes we’ve experienced in recent weeks, however, 2014 ended somewhat better than it began, with Sara and I comfortably moved into our new house, where we’ve been able to entertain friends again—something we really didn’t want to do (nor had to room to do) in our cramped rental. Business at the studio slowed down as the holidays approached, affording me a needed breather to reassess my situation, get caught up on some overdue housekeeping, and actually take some downtime in between freelance gigs.
I can’t say for sure what 2015’s going to look like. Depending on what happens in the next 30 days, I’m going to have some hard decisions to make in order to balance the needs of the day with the security of the future. At this time of year, I normally outline my specific goals for the next 12 months—not resolutions, mind you, but actual measurable, attainable goals—but I find that hard to do, sitting here today. I know what I’d like to do. I’d like to start a new band. I’d like to finally begin production on a documentary film I’ve been planning (and acquiring equipment for) for two years. I’d like to find a way to balance financial security with career fulfillment. Mainly, I’d like to be less of a grump-ass than I have been the last 12 months.
But right now, all I can really do is take a moment to recognize how grateful I am (or should be) that I’ve been able to pursue all sorts of options the last few years thanks to the enduring patience of my wife and the continued confidence of my clients, editors and business associates. And to be thankful for a lot of things: I have my health. We have a lovely (if flawed) home. We have good friends and family around us. And it’s easy to forget those things when you’re caught up in a bad moment. Thankfully, this isn’t one of those.
Happy New Year.