Coping Mechanisms (or, Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going)

So.

It’s been a while.

Did anyone actually miss this?

…yeah, didn’t think so.

I know I promised, during my postscript for the Best and Worst Comics of last year, that 2015’s wedding planning and race to the finish on that thesis thing I’ve been fiddling with wouldn’t interfere too much with updating this site. I said it’d have an effect, certainly, but that content would still be coming intermittently where possible.

Nearly seven months later, and this is the first installment of such content. Yeah, so much for not interfering.

picard facepalm
For the longest time I was certain Half-Life 3 would be released before I got back to posting.

To be honest, a lot of what’s made me withhold my lacking comic reviews and ramblings on facts of life is a matter of relevance. I could rant on politics you already know are bad. I might dissect the surface layer of a film you already know is great. I could be persuaded to even get on the soapbox and decry racially-motivated violence in a way that merely says what others already have, but with nowhere near the level of insight required. I could do all of these things and more, knowing many probably won’t ever read them.

But I realised something recently, that might be considered a little too much of a personal pity invitation to those few whose browsers have stumbled upon this post. Rest assured, my intention here is not to garner sympathy, but to provide clarity; also, as you’ll see you in a moment, I’m not necessarily concerned about what my readers might think anyway.

I started writing my comic reviews on Facebook back in 2010, partly as a way to rationalise the insane number of purchases I made during my first time at San Diego Comic-Con. The reviews started out as notes that I forcibly tagged people in, ensuring my friends would at least be aware that I’d written a thousand words of comic-related diatribe that they could maybe consider ignoring that day. Then I moved onto blogging about it, first on Blogspot and then here. I shared it in every social media channel I could get my hands on. I even broke the glass in case of emergency and made a Tumblr, the social media cesspit of cat memes and Benedict Cumberbatch fanfics I swore to never set foot within.

The time-sink aspect is also cause for me to eschew the Tumbs.
The time-sink aspect is also cause for me to eschew the Tumbs.

The reviews were done in concert with Mind’s Eye, the latter meant as a platform for rants and ravings on things I was not qualified to proselytize about. Eventually, the two separate blogs merged into one at The Writer’s Multiverse. I kept writing, kept trying (poorly, I might add) to build my audience by writing on different topics and reading different comics. It says something about how much I wanted to rope in new readers that I was willing to indulge my housemate’s offhanded remark and review a goddamn Sonic the Hedgehog comic.

I wrote all this stuff long after the original reasons for their creation. I no longer needed to justify my comic purchases since they’d landed me a PhD and a tutoring gig, and my rants weren’t as necessary since I was now able to state them slightly more eloquently in book chapter form. I also, in contrast to how things were when I started this little project, was part of a more stable and reliable friend group who didn’t make me feel ostracised when sitting right beside them. There was no longer as much impetus to write to an imaginary crowd when I could simply talk to a smaller, yet physical one. It felt like TWM had served a lot of its purpose.

But then I realised how much I missed doing this, and how much it had evolved into something I wanted to do for me rather than for others. I also realised that I needed somewhere to vent my spleen, in comic reviews and soapbox getups, because of my current situation.

Pictured: A representation of my summer home for Christmas 2014.
Pictured: A representation of my summer home for Christmas 2014.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a much more mentally-stable place than I was five years ago. I have a degree I’m nearly finished and a job that I love. I have a supportive and wonderful fiance who I somehow tricked into agreeing to marry me. As I said above, my friends are much better than some I’ve had previously, and I don’t feel as isolated as I did when I really started engaging with comics. Ultimately, things are far better to what they were before.

Last year, though, something happened to my family. I won’t go into details or anything further than that, but those who are close to me will know what I’m referencing. This was a big, horrible, evil thing that occurred. It shook my faith in many areas, and made me actively question myself and what it was that I wanted to do. As indicated by the lack of sustained content through the latter half last year, it also threw me off the wagon in terms of keeping up to date with my writing. There were days I would go to work and have extreme difficulty tearing my mind from the situation, writing only a couple hundred words of a thesis I was supposed to be getting ready for a Stage 2 submission that Christmas. There were other days I just stayed at home, unwilling to get out of bed in case something else piled on to the football scrum of bad events happening to my family.

I stopped reading comics for a while. I stopped reading for a while. I knuckled through a bunch of books for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, but I didn’t really appreciate them so much as use them the same way one uses a napkin or a rocket launcher: to get a job done.

If you confuse the two and wipe your mouth with this, you're gonna have a bad time.
If you confuse the two and wipe your mouth with this, you’re gonna have a bad time.

I came to November, and NaNoWriMo. In stark contrast to previous years, especially the one before where I met so many great new friends, I hated it. I wasn’t inspired, my original idea became garbage, and all I wanted was to hit 50,000 words, delete the file and never look at it again (I kept it, just in case there was a diamond in all that sewage). It was great seeing my friends at write-ins but my mind was always elsewhere, unable to be extricated from things happening on a daily basis.

I’m sorry if it’s frustrating that I keep mentioning this thing without telling you what it is, but it probably wouldn’t make much difference even if I did. The people closest to me are already aware, and those who aren’t need only know that things in my head, and in the real world, were bad. Quite possibly the worst they have ever personally been for me.

So then we get to now, close to a year since the initial bad thing occurred. Things have quieted down somewhat on that front, though my family aren’t entirely out of the woods yet and probably won’t be for a long time. While it’s still omnipresent, I find it’s easier to think about and do other things right now. I’m getting closer to the end of this thesis, and I’m back to writing some fiction in drips and drabs again. I’m really enjoying reading books luxuriously, rather than slamming them down for an arbitrary number at the end of a year.

And, as is evident by this post you have somehow gotten through, I’m back to writing on this site.

The reaction some of you may have to my return to writing.
The reaction some of you may have to my return to writing.

I don’t know if there’s anything new I can give you all. It’s not as if this site is at the cutting edge of comics criticism or social progression and comments on world issues. I don’t have a noticeable gimmick, or something that vastly sets me apart from the sea of writers out there similarly digitising their innermost thoughts and commending them to the greater ocean of the internet. It’s quite likely a lot of what I’ll write from now on – not to mention what’s come before – will make me cringe if I ever re-read it. ‘God,’ I might say, ‘what made me think it was a good idea to put my heart on my sleeve and give everyone more info on me than they’re probably ever comfortable knowing? It’s like I’m a blogger, or something.’

Thing is, this is what I want to do anyway. I’m writing this, here, for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked if anyone happens to come across my work and take valuable, precious time out of their day to read my digital scratchings masquerading as discourse or thought bubbles. But it’s no longer my primary goal to write for the masses the way I used to. Call me narcissistic, but I want to write things that I want to write about now. If people happen to read them, great. If they don’t, at least I’m providing fuel for some kind of embarrassing slideshow of my goofiest quotes for my wedding reception.

I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish writing this, other than to say that I’m half-back in the saddle now. Uni work and other commitments mean content still won’t be as prolific as the old days – which, for some, is probably a good thing for their eyes and brains – but it will be coming back. I have ideas for some comic reviews that I wanted to start writing and posting in early July, and a couple of story ideas I might post snippets of here for those brave enough to read them. Zite Bites will probably be retired, especially since the app itself isn’t providing quite the spread of articles it used to. Doctor Who reviews…eh, haven’t decided what I’ll do with them yet. Something tells me that’s discourse you could find, in more eloquent and interesting detail, elsewhere on the internet.

So, yeah. That’s where things are at. I’ll write, I’ll post, you read. Or not. I hope you do, though, coz every now and then I have something interesting to say. Might only happen once or twice a year, but hey, even the worst politicians have one quote that’s not half-bad. Even if it’s only good to laugh at:

tonyabbottonclimatechange

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