Like in October of 2021, I have heaped projects on my plate. And like October of 2021, it is not working well. I don’t really know how I’m going to handle it just yet, however.
I am making John Michael Jones Gets a Life at a rate of one comic a week, which is a nice, slow, easy pace. Nevertheless, I have been a scant 2 weeks ahead this whole time, and this week, I’ve slipped to 1 week ahead. They are color comics, so they take a little more producing, and eventually, our heroes will be in a digital world, which will allow some shortcuts, but there it is.
Concerning to me, I’ve launched this before I’ve finished the draft. Which means I don’t know if I can land this ship. But I felt if I sat on it any longer, it would never get done, so…
Awesome Moments is my Bible Story book series. Awesome Moments 1 goes from Eden to Christ to the Parousia as briskly as possible to serve as the anchor for the rest of the series. I’ve ranged from doing two illustrations (each of these being two pages) per day, to one, to none.. I want to have it all done by the middle of the month so it can be thoroughly exorcised from my system, because I feel kids’ books are my best medium, but I haven’t been able to finish a draft. I think my gears are clogged, and won’t start turning again until I finish this book.
Also, while the publisher intends to Kickstart it in December, they’d like it a good deal sooner.
Jump the Shark is a platformer that’s a big dose of Sonic, a moderate dose of Megaman X, and whatever else I feel like mixing in to taste.
Strangely enough, the adoption of all these projects can be traced to one program: Clip Studio Paint.
I’ve officially begun work on the final illustrations for Awesome Moments 1. If I can maintain a pace of about two illustrations a day, and one on Saturday, I should be done with them by August. Gonna get this book off my chest and move on with my life.
In this scheme, I spend Sunday-Monday resting, and Monday-Tuesday keeping up on the John Michael Jones comic, adding both a draft and a finished page to my set, so that they keep coming out for Mad Mondays.
As things stand, I’m a couple weeks ahead. I’d rather be a month or two ahead, but I’m not going to accomplish that while working on Awesome Moments.
Maybe I’ll build up some additional breathing space in August. Or maybe I’ll use August to create the next chapter of Hat Trick and finally tie up my loose ends.
I say one image on Saturday and not two. That’s because I’ve had some trouble figuring out (since I work the night shift, and each of my shifts covers two days) how to take my day of rest. Should I start it at midnight Sunday?
Well, right now, my plan is midnight Sunday, do a little tinkering with something else. And that something else deserves its own blog post. So I shall go ahead and post.
This week’s goal, aside from hugging my kin, and thanking God for what I have, is to finish my business plan.
At this point, I am about 80% sure the plan goes like this:
Reconstruct my JRPG/Adventure engine in Godot.
Build a 1-month adventure game therein, probably using Piqha. Probably an Easter Egg hunt, to publish in time for Easter 2022. Put it up for sale for $2. Let’s call it Last Legend Zero. Say the story is set before the crash of the ship, one Piqha suspects that something is wrong, and is exploring the conduits of his ship to figure it out. I want, somehow, the Word of God to be available to post-crash colony, so perhaps this easter egg hunt is the story of how it gets there.
Develop within/alongside the game the sets and characters for the Last Legend comic.
On the completion of the adventure game, I should be set for Last Legend comics for 1 or 2 months.
And/or 8×9 storybooks.
Bunny Trail Junction will reboot as a comic in like format, or storybook pages in the 8×9 storybook format, in due course.
I may spend a portion of November or December assembling a post-hoc December wrapup of the current format, and perhaps the 2021 Annual. Just tie up the first year in a bow.
Work on other projects with the Illusive Man as they come up.
Pour 2 months building a JRPG, Last Legend I. This is our business launch. Our “two-month, $5 game that makes 4K per month of work.” Our 1K wishlists on Steam.
By this time, presuming all goes well, we should be far enough along on the Illusive Man’s manga project, that taking a month or two off to produce something here is a good idea.
Pour 2-4 months into producing Last Legend II.
Get us our party mechanics.
Finish the challenge I undertook on behalf of my swordsmanship master.
Be a solid game that secures the Last Legend/Piqha brand, universe, and assets for use in the comics.
Be a solid showcase of what my micro JRPGs look like. Which leads us to:
Licensed JRPG. Say to the Illusive One, to Brometheus, to Niemeier, to my other homies, “Behold: here is a small game I have made that is designed to present a story. You have stories and an audience. Let us therefore run a Kickstarter together and produce a grand thing.” And do so. Choose the best fit. Run a crowdfund. Make a game. Lather, rinse, repeat, to raise everyone’s boats, while taking appropriate breaks to produce my own stories.
The only thing I would add is I want to produce a kid’s book every now and again. Keep my library of kids’ books growing. I feel the itch even now; it has been too long. So, keeping my format notes in mind, I think I may aim to produce a 8×9 Last LegendKids’Pulp Formula book next, and try and put one in every other month. Maybe break Awesome Moments into that format length as well.
Maybe do a Jump the Shark story before years’ end so I keep my pattern of one per year rolling.
Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction. Hit Inktober in the last week.
Finish Inktober as comics for Bunny Trail Junction, and continue making comics.
Start working on the first minigame in a series of progressively larger games.
Continue making comics for Bunny Trail Junction.
Finish the minigame
Kickstart Awesome Moments
Prepare some YouTube stories for launch in November.
BONUS ROUND: Grow my Twitter Reach!
SECOND BONUS ROUND: Start making a wearable computer for myself!
Can we see the issue?
I went from doing one thing a month to doing two things a month to doing four things a month. And then to make matters worse, I lost last weekend to hyperfocusing on a project that I should rather have noted and moved on from.
Smart Notes work well with ADHD because impulses can be boiled to a note. The Chaos Elf can then discard the impulse and re-center on what he’s supposed to be doing, as a normal person would, confident that his shiny notion will be saved and grow over time. The Smart Trees that grow also play into his strengths, as his random explorations eventually ripen into large projects that nevertheless, can be completed with minimal work and, therefore, discipline.
LA•Q•1•2 Smart Notes and ADHD
It’s no good. I can’t maintain it. I haven’t maintained it. Neither of the things I did in September received half the attention it deserved, let alone October.
In October, I tried to do four things at once. Instead, I did one thing at once. I spent a week working almost solely on the Kickstarter. I spent a week working almost solely on the game. And I spent a week working on various other projects of varying importance and unimportance. Some days, I spent endlessly scrolling Twitter in an attempt to say something good and link it back to my work. And that publicity work did pay off with steady Twitter growth… but steady Twitter growth was not on my priority list!
It seems that even when I’m doing two things at once, I’m really only doing one thing at once.
If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.
LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle
The thing is, I thought I’d be more effective once medicated for ADHD. And I am. But my increased effectiveness isn’t the ability to do twice as many things (or worse: five times as many things).
My increased effectiveness is the same amount of productivity over the same amount of time, but I can choose where it goes.
And by choosing 6 things, I am throwing that away.
The Dark Moment
Every story has a dark moment before the climax. For me, I became obsessed with the idea of assembling a wearable computer using a Raspberry Pi. One that would put data on a display over my eye. I could look through the ocular window and see the world. But also see what time it is. See what project is scheduled for this particular moment. Press a button and run a Pomodoro timer.
Of course, with the shipping crisis ongoing right now (October 2021), the soonest I can have a Pi is November or December. I have built a working mockup of the display out of sculpey and junk I have floating around. But the parts to make a good eyepiece won’t arrive ’til November or December.
But the real irony is that a thing invented to keep me on task took me off task. For three days straight.
Sunday night, as I put down the third eyepiece prototype, with 4 projects on deck only two of which had received appreciable work, and they only a week apiece, and a bunch of money poured into eyepiece parts in the mail, I realized I’d screwed up big time.
I also realized that losing only three days and a hundred dollars or so was a grace.
I will do this again any time if I do not take steps to prevent it.
The Break in the Clouds
Sunday Night I did some quick research into choosing tasks and staying on task for Chaos Elves. I resolved by the time I went to sleep to begin the next morning two short-term correctives, and a long term corrective.
The short term correctives are as follows:
Schedule each day out in advance and keep the schedule before my eyes. This would be done with Google Calendar and an app that reduces Google Calendar to a friendly clock face with wedges for the scheduled events. For this, I chose Sectograph.
Begin to assemble a digital ZettelKasten with checklists that can be synced between my phone and computer. Transfer my work into the ZettelKasten. This will empower the long-term corrective..
The Long Term Corrective
I am dedicated to creating a fountain of entertainment for children. Stories you will not regret giving your kids. Books, comics, videos, and games. I am dedicated to finishing the story of Hat Trick. To creating Awesome Moments. To releasing more Jump the Shark.
I need to consider how I am going to fulfill that goal. To create a system that will pay for itself and continuously get my stories out. Bunny Trail Junction was a fantastic first draft of that system. But it does not pay for itself, it does not find the fans, it spends too much time indulging in navel gazing (which should instead be reserved for my blog), and not enough time telling stories. I need more stories, better stories, faster stories, but!
Most of all, I need to do only one thing at a time.
If I do two things at once, I will accomplish neither. I must do one thing at a time.
LA•Q•3•1 Single Project Principle
I do not know how I am going to accomplish this. And so, for the rest of this month, barring a day or two to upload November’s comics to the site, I am going to hammer that out. I am willing to even go a week or two into November to do this. Options on the table include:
Reducing Bunny Trail Junction the Comic to 2 or 3 episodes a week, starting January
Making January a Hiatus for the Comic
Devising actual Sprite Comic Stories so that more story can be produced more quickly
Canceling the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and redoing it when I can devote a whole month to nothing else.
Making everything into vidya so I can build a profitable business, then extracting comics and videos and storybooks from games.
By working in the ZettelKasten, and by loading my story ideas into the ZettelKasten, I am confident that eventually, I will have the operation I need to succeed.
Right now, everything is up in the air.
I haven’t been on Twitter except for one or two brief posts since Thursday. Several Inktobers haven’t been posted to Twitter (they have gone up automatically on the comic site, of course) as I’ve been A) building eye pieces and B) wrestling with the fallout of my bad choices.
This blog post was built in the ZettelKasten as well, and if it copies into WordPress reasonably well, future blog entries will as well. Ideally, one day, I’d publish the ZettelKasten as my blog, with the personal bits redacted, so that readers would get the full connectivity.
But I’ve spent the last two days going over my business and plans, and I don’t like what I see. I need to make something new.
I need to make a system I can promise to follow.
LA•Q•2•1•1 Chaos Elf: A Chaos Elf is a man with ADHD. The name was chosen to reflect the stunted self-control more accurately called Executive Function Retardation that typifies the disorder. Since nobody but me is willing to call me and those like me Executive Retards, a different rectification of names was selected.
I promised to upload the third draft by last weekend. I have failed because I don’t yet have my pastor’s notes. I will be getting them today, inserting (I think) two more pages into the story to really hammer home the centerpiece of the plot, and keeping my promise.
The Kickstarter is 1/3rd funded! Right now, I’m not pleased with the options I have available for people to back it. This weekend, I hope to tweak it a bit so people can get, e.g. coloring books, or something else that I can price relatively low and have the book itself have a large enough markup I can actually use the funds for more than production and shipping.
I have mixed feelings about Awesome Moments. I am 100% on board with making it, and it being the greatest thing I’ve ever created, for the sake of my children. But as a product I offer the world, I am hesitant. So I am praying that it funds or not based on God’s blessing the project as a whole.
I am not hesitant to share the project with the world, however. I love it. I believe you should love it too. I am excited about it. And I am going to be putting up posters, arranging to speak at churches, and so forth. The trick is, how do I balance that with what I said I’d do in October and November before I decided to try
Bunny Trail Junction: The Comic
November has been assembled all month. So according to my normal process, I should have it uploaded to Amazon, right?
Wrong. I’ve been tearing my hair out all month trying to simultaneously do the Awesome Moments Kickstarter and get the game that also launches in November done. I haven’t even kept up on producing comics.
Technically I have, as the pixel art comics…
… are so easy to produce that I have 24 comics already done this month. The problem is, that’s not what I want to run. I don’t want to offer my Bunny Trail Junction readers me blathering about what I should do or not do. That’s what this blog is for! I want to offer the readers stories!
Moreover, Hat Trick is picking up traction at least as much as Awesome Moments, thanks to all the work I’ve been putting into the game. Although neither is getting the kind of traction I need to make a living yet.
Currently, I have a couple of ideas for the comic. All of my ideas involve finishing out December strong, then maybe changing it up.
These ideas can be mixed, matched, and stacked.
Cut Back Next Year: The current favored plan is to reduce the comic to 3 strips a week instead of seven, and release bimonthlies instead of monthlies. This frees up enough time for me to work on games and videos while keeping the comic on life support.
January Sabbatical: No comic in January while I focus on retooling everything. This would be really helpful because even if I cut back to a bimonthly, I still have to have January and February both done at the beginning of January. Unless I take a one-month sabbatical. And then, if I do the full 31 comics for Inktober next year, with every other issue being every/other month, the 2022 annual will be roughly the size of the 2021 annual.
A Story In Pixel Art: This is my favorite plan, but it’s also the newest, and I haven’t let it marinate as long. If I can devise a story that works as a sprite comic, in the style that I’m doing for the games, I can generate enough comics to cover the gap between months where I draw and months where I work on games or books.
Story Books As Web Comics: And finally, if I just do a two-page spread of the 5×8 as a single day, like the prayers I’m going to be including in December, that totally counts, and it fits certain story beats better.
3 and 4 are the newest, but most awesome notions. Sprite comics allow for awesome animations. The title screen I’ve got for my game has already convinced me that I want to do comics that look like this. And if I can make storybooks for Bunny Trail Junction that later lead to larger, illustrated books, so much the better.
Just look at that title menu! Comics that look like that would kick ass! And the more I weave my comics and games together, the better for each of them.
November will have two or three comics that straight up have animations in them on the website. And that rocks. Putting that stuff in stories will be super cool.
Anyhow, today I’m going to try and polish off the last edits to November and get that submitted to KDP today.
Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare
I spent Saturday and Monday neglecting all my other responsibilities to make Hat Trick: Prelude to Nightmare a complete game. And it is done.
That doesn’t mean it’s a good game, or even the game I wanted to make. To get close to what I want, I need to add:
Enemies that fight back.
Health and health drops
More combat options like dashing and parrying.
More world to explore and waves of foes to fight.
Nice sound effects to menus and the like.
Spawn animations of goblins bursting from the ground.
Music changes when exploring Vs. Fighting.
Arthur’s portrait changing based on the situation.
But, it has a win condition, a lose condition, an options menu, and a controls menu. If I get only partway through the things I want to add by November, and then have to cut it off, at least I will cut it off a finished, if sub-standard, product.
I want to make a whole blog post about what I’ve learned from making the game, and how I’d like to tweak things moving into the next one. So stay tuned for that.
Going Where My Audience Is
I have rebranded my Jump the Shark YouTube Channel as a Bunny Trail Junction Youtube Channel.
I have observed before my audience is kids. To reach kids, I need to go where kids are. Which is not twitter, or bunny-trail.com. It may be YouTube.
My current idea is to take my Kids’ Pulp Formula, write a bunch of stories, and upload one or two a week to YouTube. I’d draw one or two pictures for the story, record myself reading it, and thus build the audience for my books, my comics, and my games. For the same purpose, I’ve created a branded SubscribeStar.
My intention is to create a family-supporting setting and cast using my Piqha for the majority of the stories, although doing my existing books and comics is also fine. But Piqha, man, they’re so cool, and so far none of my finished work is strongly counter to modern propaganda pieces. I want a Berenstain Bears but with a respectable Papa. And the Piqha can do that.
But I haven’t put a single penstroke down for this project yet. Fulfilling my comic promises and advertising Awesome Moments has eaten all of my time! And right now, I’m not even feeling it. I’m feeling my game.
Man, getting my comic to look like this would be so cool. Heck, using bits like this rendered in-engine for videos would be so cool.
I’ve never edited videos before. I’ll need to record myself reading stories and edit the audio as well, and I’m not sure how I’ll find the silence necessary to pull it off on this farm. Right now, as I write this, my sister’s dogs are barking, and there are baby chickens chirping directly under my window.
These are all rather niggling excuses. I can overcome them. But that leads me to the one all-encompassing problem that I have with my projects.
I Should Only Do One Thing At A Time
I am able to do a great job getting funding for Awesome Moments, telling people how great it’s going to be, doing updates for the Kickstarter, and tweaking the rewards to generate interest.
As long as I do nothing else.
I am able to do a great job inking beautiful comics with intriguing stories to run on Bunny Trail Junction every single day for months ahead of time.
As long as I do nothing else.
I am able to build a retro game that looks super fun and exciting and slowly build up hype for it as I put in more and more cool features.
As long as I do nothing else.
I suspect the same is true of the YoutTube videos. The reason my mind is coming up with a slew of excuses is right now I am in game-development mode, and my mind doesn’t want to switch to advertising mode or to video mode or to drawing mode. But somehow, I’ve developed a plan of action where this month I’m doing all four at the same time.
That has to stop.
I can present all four at the same time. I’m presenting Inktober right now, although it’s certainly not getting me the eyeballs I had hoped for. But I’m not doing Inktober right now. I did Inktober last month.
I have to be doing one thing at a time. If I am making videos and games and comics and childrens’ books and funding, I have to be working on only one of these at a time for multiple days at a time. I may do one per month. I may do one per week. But I can’t do two per anything ever, ever again. I am making it work half-ass right now because I promised a game in November, and I promised the comic would come out every day this year and I’m doing the Kickstarter right now and I owe it a fair shot.
Tomorrow I have an appointment to work on a business plan. My business plan has to be to make one thing at a time. And it has to be something that gets my work to my audience and starts up a cash flow.
So today, I figured I had better sort my ducks out. Here they are. Now it’s time to ponder on how to line ’em up.
So, I have launched the Awesome Moments Kickstarter:
Tell your friends. Tell your enemies.
If Awesome Moments funds, it will be the main focus from then until it is done. And every day until then, I will post something about it on Twitter. I will seek out opportunities to speak in churches or otherwise. I’m going to give this thing the best possible chance I can to fund.
That said, I have no idea if it will, and I’m not married to either outcome.
I am going to try and get a couple of story videos made in time for November, because I see a useful lining-up with Thanksgiving.
If Awesome Moments doesn’t fund, I will double down hard on making videos in November. We will try to prime the algorithm with a glut of good stories.
December’s Bunny Trail Junction will be at least partially a prayer book, so I can keep the prayers I want to pray every day in my pocket. It will be the last Bunny Trail Junction monthly for a while.
After December, I will release bimonthlies instead. Bunny Trail Junction will drop from 7 comics a week to 3 comics a week, plus a video each week on YouTube/other media outlets. I hope to one day go back to daily comics, but my commitment is to reaching my audience — little kids — where they are first, and keeping the comic going second.
This week, my primary goal is to turn Prelude to Nightmare into a finished game, however short, stupid, or terrible it may be.
Then improve it each day, while keeping it a finished game, until November, when it is released as is. My ultimate business strategy is to build an audience on YouTube and use them to crowdfund books, and seed the demand for games. My videogame strategy is to proceed as previously outlined, making a 1-month game, making a 2-month game that is advertised , and then Kickstarting a year game for a year’s salary. The timeline for these events varies based on whether I am making Awesome Moments or not. If not, I’ll aim to begin work on Game 2 in December, and release it as an Anniversary gift for my wife. Otherwise, if Awesome Moments does fund, I will spend a month spinning up the YouTube channel before launching into Game 2.
The following section now breaks Hat Trick into two pieces in the November Monthly. It’s a little ad-hoc and hastily assembled due to precise constraints on how many comics I needed…
Some of these are Frankencomics, single comics assembled from panels of multiple different previous comics. I’m not 100% happy with them. They mostly make sense and say what I want to say in the space I was given. I may make some additional comics to try out different ways of saying what I mean to say more intentionally rather than reuse the old ones or use frankencomics.
I’ve got about a week to figure it out. No big deal. If Bunny Trail Junction isn’t perfect on its first outing, well, that’s how I learn the skills that will perfect it.
So let’s think about some stuff I’ve largely already covered on this blog:
Sadly, it’s late, and I’ll have to consider course corrections tomorrow, which is irritating because my aim was to reach a conclusion today. But describing the question is half the answer.
Meanwhile I’ve begun work on a game. Work is slow because I’m doing two full ink drawings a day, which eats into the time I can work on the game at all. Here’s what two days of this have netted me:
Let’s pretend I have about 4 hours of brainpower in the tank per day. That’s one per comic, and one spent on Japanese, leaving me only one for the game. To be sure, I spent more than two hours on this program — but most of the stuff outside the two hours of “brainpower” were minor tweaks rather than getting somewhere and doing something. So, all told, not bad.
Normally, my rule with Bunny Trail Junction is it has on months and off months. In on months, I focus all my brainpower on the comic, and I expect to produce three to five episodes a day. This is what I was doing during my proof-of-concept in April.
If, say, I’m working on a video game, it’s an off month. In an off month I produce one comic a day. So in an on month I am rapidly gaining ground, and in off months, I am slowly losing ground. Simple enough.
I’m making a game, so September is an off month, right? Except I’m doing two drawings a day instead of one because I have to hustle through the Inktober prompts and get them all done before the Ides in patent violation of the spirit of the law. So, I’m trying to cobble together the bones of a game while working twice as hard on comics as I intend to do for the rest of the month once the Inktober prompts are finished.
By the 14th, my visit with the doctor, the prompts should be finished, and I should be back down to making a comic a day and spending the rest of my brain hours on the game. If I throw together a decent series of comics about the game, I can have November assembled within days of October and start to be truly ahead of the game. The game being Bunny Trail Junction obviously.
But one dark shadow has been lurking in the corners of my mind.
What about Awesome Moments? Awesome Moments is the most important thing on my to-do list, after all! Making comics about bunnies fighting goblins is nice, but this is leaving a record of my faith for my children!
When am I going to finish that?
Oddly enough, Awesome Moments got kicked into production by my work on the comics. This:
Perhaps it is time to unfurcate it, and roll Awesome Moments back into the comic.
I’ve toyed with the idea of setting Awesome Moments as the story of David Jones catechizing his kid.
It sidesteps a lot of the angst I have over it. As a convert from one faith tradition to another, I am painfully aware of the doctrinal differences between me and my Christian brethren. It doesn’t matter: Awesome Moments is my presentation of the faith to my children. I cannot, I must not, bend on any doctrine of note just because I love my brethren with whom I disagree.
So, you know, if you’re reading my Bible Story books to your kids, and you disagree with me, you’ll want to point out (incorrectly, of course) where I’m wrong. You should be doing this with all the childrens’ Bible Stories you’re using already. You don’t know what crazy cults have gotten their fingers into making those books!
Making the book “The Bible, as told to John Michael by his dad” makes this a lot less messy. You can say, “Look, David Jones is super cool, and we love his perspective, but he’s an imaginary character and sometimes he gets important stuff wrong.” Badah-bing, badah-boom.
(Of course, there’s no need, as obviously I am right about everything. But the option is now cleaner.)
Anyway, today I was avoiding work, as one does on the Lord’s Day, and pondering, and the thought came to give it a little test comic. And here we go:
If I decide I don’t like it, I don’t have to run it. But for some reason, this feels right. This feels like how I’m supposed to do this.
Intellectually, it’s not quite right. Bunny Trail Junction is supposed to be pure entertainment. I’m not trying to evangelize with my comics. There are Believers in them, and Christianity is true in them, but they are meant to be Christian stories in the same sense Lord of the Rings is a Christian story: that is, the work of a Christian craftsman plying a trade, not as a preacher, but as a man pursuing excellence in his particular craft.
But it feels right. And as I grow older, I get more mystical. My gut says aye. The ayes have it.