Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Horrifying Necessity of Change

When I was in 8th grade, my teacher found a doodle I did of a horse and told me it was good. 

She was right.

From then on a drew every chance I could get. I copied images of game character from Game Pro magazines, video game boxes, and sometimes I'd pull stuff from my head. Everyone thought it was great. They especially liked that crazy 'Japanimation' style I used which was like, so cool and new. (Seriously, it was 1996, anime was basically relegated to Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and hentai from the back corner of the video store.)

Everyone loved my work. I got compliments galore and I rode that wave all though high school. Somewhere in my junior year I decided I was going to art school and would eventually become a cartoonist. Everyone said I'd kill it as an artist. I mean, why wouldn't I? Everyone said I was great.

Enter: Art School... where I was asked to draw in new and different styles, with tools I wasn't familiar with. 

"Nah, nah," I said to myself. "I'll do the project in my style and everyone will love it. They'll see how good I am, and I'll get an A."

At this point, you'd think I'd be all, "Hmm... maybe learning things like fundamentals is important and taking the time to learn these things now will help me in the long run when I'm out of school and drawing on my own." Yeah no. I took the coaching of my teachers as insults... and while I did adjust my style accordingly to whatever project I was doing, I didn't like it and I didn't do it 100%.

Soooo....I half-assed my way through art school... I still made it out with a solid B+, but still... sometimes I wonder, what if I had tried? Once I graduated, I got to work on my comics... but I never bothered to learn how to get them on the internet in a way that was beyond my janky deviantart account, or refine them so they were, you know, clean or colored. I was stuck in my way... which was fast becoming outdated... and refused to learn anything new. 

I wasn't a teachable student and I wasn't allowing myself to grow as an artist partly because of my ego, but mostly because I was lazy. Learning how to use art software? Buying different pens and markers? Maybe reading a book on the subject? Ugh, that all sounds hard and time consuming. What's wrong with pen and ink and basic know-how? Nothing if you're Charles fucking Schulz. (I love Charles Schulz, by the way.)

Suffice it to say, I never made it as an artist. I did eventually learn how to use photoshop and invested in a tablet, but it was too little too late. I still draw for fun from time to time.... Mostly illustrations from my books and little pencil sketches.  And that's fine. I'm okay with that. But now, here I am writing and selling books, and trying to make a respectable profit from them. 

Ben Wallace once mentioned to me that I need to find time every day to work on my writing. That's solid advice and his success is a testament to that. You'd think I'd see that and maybe, you know, listen... but I did what I always do... I agreed politely and went on about my business of doing exactly NOT that. I published Paige's Story aaaaand basically that was it. Occasionally I'd boost an ad on Facebook or Instagram but that was about all. I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but I'm pretty sure I was relying too much on luck-- luck that the right person would read my book, make a big damn deal over it and that would be that. 

Yeah, that's not how that works. It took me three years and a Facebook post from JN Chaney to get it through my damn thick skull, but I finally got the message that I can't just sit around and wait for recognition. 

Which means I not only have to write books, but I have to market them. I have to interact with people

on social media, make partnerships, advertise, write REGULAR blogs, and basically do everything that I hate doing with the fiery passion of 400 billion suns.

I'm not a people person. Those of you who have met me in real life can probably agree that I'm awkward and talk way too loud and fast when I'm nervous... which is more or less all the time.

But, here we are. Tales of Fort Thomas is getting ready to go and I'll be damned if I just keep on keeping on with the bare minimum. It's going to be hard. I work a day job, raise a family, and (worst of all) have my mental health to contend with. Sometimes the depression is so heavy all I can do is stare at my computer and wonder why I even bother. Then, when I DO bother, my anxiety crashes the party and starts in with, "Holy shit! Why did you do that? Who do you think you are? You're going to bomb so hard! People are going to laugh at you! You want to be laughed at?"

I do not want to be laughed at, but I also want to write soooooo... I guess, maybe I should learn from my mistakes in art school and become a teachable human being. You know, take the advice other, long time authors are giving me and listen. I also need to be open to learning new tricks like marketing and strategic social media practices. These are small, reasonable things. But, most importantly, I need to be open to change and I need to put in the work. 

Ugh... that last bit's gonna suck. 


  1. Something like this will come back to haunt me someday for being stubborn about the world of self publishing, just when I thought I had it all figured out.

    You're doing good and you should be proud of yourself. I wish you nothing but the best and hopefully I'll follow in your footsteps, taking others' advice more seriously than before. Godspeed, Mrs. Bass!

    - Natalie Norment

  2. I'm glad to hear that you are preparing for the hard slog of mundane marketing. 🤣 I'm going to look you up on Deviant art now. All the best.

    1. I haven't been on DA for years and years. It's okay, you're not missing much. 😆

  3. You're reminding me of the main character in the movie "The Zero Effect." He says something like, "I have to talk? To ... people?" (He normally has a go-between for getting new customers.)

    I wonder if one of your people-person friends (not me! I'm also not a people-person) would think this kind of thing is fun and trade you some of that work for something you think is fun that they don't like.

    Learning new stuff is good, too, of course! And sometimes the new stuff eventually becomes fun or at least easy.