Hey all, Faith here. I’m still somewhat recovering from my final comic convention of the season, a local con in Halifax called Hal-Con. I had a very nice time at Hal-con, and got to talk to many interested folk, both readers and aspiring creators. These are my favourite type of people to talk to at conventions, as they’re all usually very interested in and enthusiastic about comics, and I get to share my own enthusiasm with them.
I had a very nice spotlight panel at Hal-con, where I got to share my work and career path with an attentive audience, and it gave me some ideas for a blog post. I got into an interesting discussion with a couple who were looking to do more with their webcomic, and one thing they asked about is finding time to make comics while still maintaining a healthy balance in your life.
The honest answer I had to give them is sometimes, if you decide you want to be serious about making comics and move past it being simply a fun thing you do for a couple hours each week, you have to give something up.
I believe in maintaining a balance in life, in making time for friends, family and exercise (as a comic maker, you’ll be sitting on your butt a lot, so it’s important to, y’know, move around occasionally), but my crazy schedule, working six days a week for long hours, doesn’t leave time for much else. So when it became obvious to me that comics were something I wanted to commit to, that I wanted to make my life’s work, I decided I had to carve everything that was not vital to my mental and physical health out of my life.
So I gave up video games.
It really sucked. I love video games. There is something about the combination of engaging gameplay and a story that tickles the happy part of my brain, and when the combination is at its most potent, like in games like Portal & Portal 2, there is something transcendent about the medium. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on games in my lifetime, and I do not regret a single minute. Some of my fondest memories are of spending 8 straight hours one Christmas break wading through the Gabriel Knight games, or staying up until 3 AM hacking my way through Vagrant Story. For a long time I very much wanted to work in gaming in a creative capacity, and made up my own Tomb Raider ripoff, although my main character had regular sized bosoms.
Now, I still play the occasional game, but at a much reduced pace. I probably only play 1 or 2 a year, and I tend to gravitate towards games that are two player, so that my gaming time also doubles as time with my boyfriend (we’re currently playing Rayman: Origins and Resident Evil 6). The long, solidarity hours that I used to spend gaming are now spent drawing comics.
It makes me sad, occasionally. I miss the engagement and immersion of gaming, but I can’t justify sinking 60 hours into a game when it doesn’t contribute to my development as a cartoonist. Every other “free” hour of my life is filled with sleep, my relationships and exercise, the nooks and crannies filled with what little entertainment I can slip in, like reading books, comics and the occasional movie.
Anyway, that was my choice, and what I decided would be best for me to give up, in order to develop my comic making skills to a professional level. Your life, of course, is different from mine, and if you are interested in making comics your life’s work, and need to carve the hours from your life to make it so, you might give up something completely different. But unless you’re a lottery winner and don’t need to worry about the financial end of things, something must be given up. There are just not enough hours in the day.
So what have you given up for comics?
PS. For further insight into giving things up to make a dream a reality, I suggest checking out What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. The book is technically about long distance running, but it’s also about changing your lifestyle in order to pursue a career, in this case, writing. I thought it had some interesting insights on the sacrifices needed to make a writer’s life possible.