Does anyone else celebrate character birthdays?
The first "serious" novel I wrote, shortly before I started college, began on July 31, 1996. I decided to also make that Ivy's birthday in the canon of the story, just because that's a cute way to remember when she was actually "born" in my reality. I used to celebrate that day as a "celebrating being a writer" day and sometimes do something associated with that fictional world to remind myself how important it is, even though I'm no longer writing those books.
I haven't been writing anything new really for a long time now. Not on novels, anyway, and a few things are in limbo publishing-wise. I'm not apathetic about it. I'm not afraid of it. I'm not stuck. But I'm focused on other things--in the "real world" of my life, I turned in a declaration to my apartment complex today stating that I intend to vacate at the end of my lease, which means I have to get serious about finding a new place to live, and then in other aspects of my life I'm mostly just being a massive fangirl--working on my costume and accessories for this weekend's convention, learning songs to play on ukulele to go with it, drawing a bunch of art. It takes time and attention, and though you all know how productive I can be, I still only have one brain and the same 24 hours everyone else has.
I'm focusing a lot of creative energy on art and music that I hadn't before when I was very deep in my writing. I believe fiction projects will always have my heart first and foremost, because they always have, but if you look at my history as a kid, there was always art and music right beside it. And if you look at my output during the very consistent years I spent writing, there is almost no art and only a little more music coming out of my creativity machine. But even considering that, I still sort of feel like my hiatus from writing is disappointing somehow.
I don't have clear plans to jump back in at any particular time. Last night (and at other random times in the recent past) I had a moment where I just wanted to open one of my works in progress, read through what I had, and continue it, but I can't afford to do that right now with the convention coming up and my ukulele repertoire a lot closer to being in the toilet than I wanted. I know how immersive writing is and it needs to stay on the shelf while I'm doing this convention and then it needs to share the stage with my pressing concerns about moving. I may not be able to return until after I'm settled in my new home.
Things change, and you grow in the direction that you can. One thing that changed for me, while working with Ivy, was that I grew more competent in my writing skills and eventually came to the conclusion that my novels about her would not go anywhere. I would have to give them a massive overhauling that would essentially transplant her in to a different story, and I didn't want to scrape her out of the place she grew. So I decided it's okay for her to not be in a marketable story, and made her story into a webcomic.
My writing fused with pencil art and talk bubbles to provide a continued life for Ivy, a character I love, and a path by which I bring her directly to my readers, who aren't paying for the privilege of reading about her and don't necessarily have any typical expectations of where her webcomic is going. In short, in webcomics I can do what I want, and no one's going to feel ripped off if the story meanders and does ridiculous things and seems self-indulgent. That's what it is--it's a place to put her because I love her and I wanted to share her somehow.
Maybe today, since I have to get my webcomic stuff done early this week due to the convention, I'll work on the drawings and give the art a little extra attention. She's my baby, even though I created her 21 years ago and she hasn't made it anywhere but a sloppy pencil webcomic with low readership. For me, she represents a love of writing that doesn't go away no matter how long it's been or how it's expressed, and she represents loving an idea to the point that it's always a part of you, your art, how you move forward.
I still love her and always will.