Where I See Myself in Five Years (Summer 2014 Edition)


As I wrote last Monday, I’ve decided to resurrect weekly updates to this blog until at least this fall. With a self-imposed burden of 20+ entries to write, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to fill them. Since I haven’t regularly updated the blog in well over a year, I figured a “what I’ve been up to” entry would make for a good start.

So I reread the last update entry I did back in early 2013, and mulled over what’s changed since then. But despite the fact it’s been more than sixteen months, I don’t really have all that much to report. The Tonoharu: Part One paperback is coming down the pipeline, but that’s really the only significant piece of news I got. Otherwise I’ve been following the course outlined in the last update blog entry: trying to bulk up my savings, and chipping away at Tonoharu: Part Three.

So instead of writing about the recent past, I’ve decided to look in the opposite direction. The stock interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” seemed like a good jumping off point, so without further ado here are five significant changes I expect to see in the next five years:

1) I will quit my day job.
I’m currently wrapping up my third year as an English teacher in Japan. I’ve signed up for a fourth year, and will probably also do a fifth. But five years is the maximum tenure that my program allows. For better or for worse, come August 2016 I’ll be out of a job. But actually, I’m sort of looking forward to it because…

2) I’ll be an artist full time (for a while, at least).
This is the main reason I’ve saving so diligently for the past couple years. I want to have the flexibility to be able to devote myself to my art (once again) without worrying about a day job.
By the time my teaching stint comes to an end, I should have enough saved up to get by without income for two years. My plan is to only do art-related stuff for the first twelve months of that. In addition to actual cartooning, this would include marketing/art grant applications/convention appearances and other “business-y” things like that, but no unrelated day jobs.
After that, I’ll see where I’m at and decide where I want to go from there. No matter what, by the end of the second year I want to be bringing in at least as much as I spend. There’s a good chance that will require me to start working a day job again, which is fine. My hope, though, is that I can make ends meet working no more than half time. Full time employment just doesn’t give me enough free time for my artistic pursuits. With the the right combination of frugality and supplementary art income, I hope that I’ll never need to work a full time day job again. (Knock on wood!)

3) I will finally finish off and release the last part of Tonoharu.
I’ll be writing a detailed progress report for Tonoharu: Part Three in the near future, so I’ll save the particulars for that. But suffice it to say the next five years will see Tonoharu’s completion and publication.

4) I will streamline my process for post-Tonoharu work.
I’ve been working on Tonoharu for ten years. TEN YEARS. And it’s still not done. (albeit at least now the end is in sight). Since I aspire to create more than, like, three or four stories before I die, I need to speed up my process drastically. Worst case scenario, I wouldn’t want to spend more than, say, two or three years on a single project. But ideally I’d like to finish something significant every year.
This will require me to completely revamp the way I work, but as I say, it has to happen. I have some ideas about what I can do to streamline things, but we’ll get into that in a future entry.

5) I’m going to try to find a better balance between life/work.
I have to admit, it was a little disheartening to realize that the last sixteen months didn’t have enough interesting news to fill up a measly little blog entry.
I’m reminded of the Lennon quote “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. I have a bad habit of getting tunnel vision when it comes to my goals. Saving money and devoting time to my comics are important of course, but so are a lot of other things. It’s not like my life is on pause while I’m saving up this little nest egg, it’s ticking by day by day.
Now, to be fair: it’s not like I haven’t left the house for the past sixteen months.The focus of this blog is on my artistic work, so I’m not going to write about spending time with friends or trying a new restaurant or whatever. Plus trying to manage both a full time day job in addition to my comics isn’t a walk in the park, so I should cut myself some slack. But at the same time, I’m going to try to be more mindful that frugality and efficiency aren’t everything, and that I should loosen the purse strings and stop and smell the roses sometimes.

For better or worse, I’ll be in a very different place in 2019 than I am now. I’m excited to see how things will pan out.