I'm up to page 63 in the illustrations. The story has been outlined and about 1/3 of it written.
I originally planned to write the whole thing first, then sketch it all out, work a second draft, and then do some finished art for submitting the whole thing to a publisher.
But I was itching to start working out the art—figuring out how it should look, colors, etc.—while I wrote. I figured if I set up the detailed story arc via the outline and wrote a section of chapters, the second draft of that section could be worked out while I did the sketches for each page in those chapters.
This is probably madness, and no doubt an experienced comics person would snigger in disbelief at how I'm doing this, but it seems to be working for me so far. But stay tuned—the projected finish date I've set up for myself is August 2017. I might be singing a different tune by then.
The most I can do per week is 3 finished pages of art—sketch to finish—while I do other work that actually earns money. Maybe at some point I'll be able to work faster without the quality of the work suffering, but for now I have to be content with this pace.
But the surprising thing is this—me, Ms I Will Never, Ever Be A Morning Person. Ever.—decided to started getting my butt out of bed early in the morning: 5 or 6 a.m. I'd read a blog by comics creator Greg Ruth, who has some pretty sound advice:
Sure it means you're hungry for lunch at 9-10 am and that's weird, but the overall effect on your health is impossible to disregard. Even if I had superpowers and stayed up late woking on INDEH I'd still never have turned it in on time. I was producing someday as much as five or seven pages of fully finished lettered and printable pages of art every two days waking up early. It was exhausting, but like the kind of exhaustion a nap can solve, not the bone burning tongue-wagging hellscape you enter when you've clocked the same hours late into the night. Humans are daytime animals, even we natural night owls must accept this. Your pals scoff at your crashing out around 10pm where they're just getting started? Just wink at em and walk away knowing you're doing it better and in the end, your tortoise will totally crush those obnoxious rabbits at the finish line. Seriously- try this out for a week and see if it doesn't change your thinking. You don't like it, switch back. But I think you'll dig it. Even after I turned in the book, I'm still on this schedule. This is my new schedule now, (though not the seven day a week thing. that sucks and should never happen).Link here.
Let us all pause for a moment of silence while we ponder "five or seven pages of fully finished lettered and printable pages of art every two days." Holy shit. I think he's talking about black and white art, not full color, but still! I bow to you, Greg Ruth.
Changing work hours made a lot of sense to me, and I thought why not try it for a week? And I was pleasantly surprised at how much more I was able to accomplish when doing the work at the beginning of the day instead of the end of the day. And if I need a short nap in the afternoon I don't feel guilty about taking one. I'm in the third week of this experiment, and it seems to be sticking.
Oh, and before I go, here's a project I'm really excited about. Knoxville Stomp is a new music festival to be held May 5-8, 2016. It will celebrate the Brunswick/Vocalion record label recording sessions made at the St. James Hotel here in Knoxville in 1929 and 1930. Country blues, hillbilly, and popular music were recorded, but the Great Depression interfered with the release of much of it. Bear Family Records, highly respected as a source for archived historic music, will be releasing these recordings in a new box set, and the festival will celebrate this and the musicians who music at the St. James.
Since I love Depression-era music and collect 78 rpm records, I will be creating little bio comics about these musicians which will run in the Knoxville Mercury, if all goes as planned, in the weeks leading up to the festival. This so satisfies the inner librarian in me as I research who these musicians were and what they looked like while I write their stories and listen to their recordings (which are old but mostly new to me). The title of the comic may change, but for now I'm calling it "Ghosts in the Machine." I hope it sticks. Listening to music made in that era is kind of haunting, but in the best way.