Despite having a relatively quiet and breezy second week of winter break, I’ve been putting off my traditional end of year reflection until the morning of New Year’s Eve. The aftermath of Christmas always offers lots of chances to think about how the year has gone and what I want to aim for during the next trip around the sun. This year has been a mostly good one for me. I started a new job, which I’m still very happy with four months later; I’ve made some excellent memories with friends; and my artwork has improved a lot since the beginning of the year. The national elections at the beginning of November went way better than expected, so the constant dread that things will suddenly get worse again has been mitigated for at least another year or so. There’s little for me to complain about.
The irony of being in such a contented place is that I have to hold loosely in my mind the understanding that it’s subject to change for the worse at any time. I was discussing this paradox with my barber the other day as we were pondering human nature and our impulses to fight against change. Being happy and human, I think, requires letting go of the idea of the eternal high. Satisfaction with accomplishments eventually wears off, and good luck streaks, like bad ones, eventually break. The fact of the future is never set in stone, and remembering this reality helps me to stay more grounded in my present. I am happy now, and that is enough because it’s all I get. It has to be.
Anyway, let’s break down the things I want to remember about this year.
I started this year with the relatively simple idea that I would maintain a weekly Twitter thread where I would post my finished artwork as a record of my artistic progress in my fourth year of serious practice. It acted as a sort of weekly anchor in place of my old blogging schedule; here’s where I’m putting down a stamp about what the last week was like for me as an artist. Overall I think I was pretty consistent with this practice, although there were definitely periods during the year where my actual art production slowed down considerably. Even so, marking a week by saying that I didn’t have anything to show feels just as valuable in retrospect. I think I might continue this practice next year, although I’m also looking at scaling back my use fo Twitter given the state of the service since its new owner took over at the beginning of November. Below is a link to my final post on the thread for the year, and you can scroll back up to see how my art’s evolved since last January.
If you read over my last tweet, I mention there that my last piece of the year is intended as the start of a series of stickers I’d like to design and possibly sell in 2023. There are a lot of unknowns I have to work out, not the least of which is “What are the legal risks of selling merchandise that features copyrighted characters.” It’s a murky area that’s actually not helped by the abundance of fan artists that I see doing exactly this thing. Still, it’s good to have goals for the new year.
At the close of 2021 I was feeling a bit of sadness that I’d fallen out of the habit of writing regular updates on my blog, and I resolved to try to correct that as I went into 2022. I think I did a decent job with weekly entries up until the summer, but then all the free time made it much harder to do something that resembled work. With my new job starting in the fall, I saw my weekend schedule pick up a new wrinkle with the need to do regular grading. That became my couple hours of weekend brain work, which left me with little energy or interest in also checking here as well. I don’t know if the regular updates will be a goal I continue with for 2023, but I do still like these periodic big check ins.
My yearly spreadsheet of new-to-me media has the numbers for things I encountered for the first time this year.
In 2022 I:
- read 35 collected trade paperbacks of comics
- read 7 books
- finished 25 video games
- watched 59 seasons of television
- saw 39 movies
Because I only record what’s new to me, these numbers don’t include any of the stuff I revisited this year. I also don’t track comics that I’m reading on a monthly basis because then I’d be writing down as many as 6 new entries a week. Suffice it to say that I’m up to date on most of the X-Men titles and a smattering of assorted creator-owned books that my local comic shop sends me.
It’s a mess, and the more I think about it the more I think I want to wind down my engagement with the platform. I was reading Kieron Gillen’s final newsletter for the year earlier this week, and he was discussing his own disengagement with a meditation on the nature of Twitter as a revenue source for a bllionaire where the product is the attention our posts garner for the sake of selling advertising. It’s an idea I’ve understood more or less for a while, but to see it put in such stark terms at the annual moment of reevaluation has been kind of galvanizing. I’ve set up over at Mastodon, and while the experience is slower paced and not quite as absurd as my Twitter feed at its best, it’s overall been much more pleasant and less anxiety producing. I expect that letting go of Twitter will be a long, slow, painful process, but I find myself in a better place of acceptance now than I was even a few weeks ago. Everything changes, especially when we don’t want it to.
I love my new job. There’s so much about it that is new and exciting compared with the work I’d been doing before. I have a full daily schedule that leaves little time for boredom, and the kids I work with are so much less jaded than high schoolers. It’s great.
A couple weeks before winter break started, we had a freak power outage in our neighborhood. Rachael and I decided that it would be nice to go do something instead of huddling in the dark in our house on a Saturday night, so we went to a coffee shop and sipped hot chocolate. We wore our masks inside and just slipped them off when we wanted to take a drink, and it was remarkably pleasant. I hope that 2023 will be about more moments like that one, with tentative steps towards finding a way to accept necessary changes while still loving what’s good about the world.