an old Styx song titled “Too Much Time on My
those of you who are too young to remember what Styx is...well, it
isn’t all that important to the discussion at hand.
A lot of fans are interested in hearing all the gory details of being a
comics creator. Probably because a huge number of them play
the idea of eventually becoming one. For those of you in that
boat, I’ll pass along a bit of advice that Vertigo Editor
MacDonald passed along to me several years back -- “Run
out now. Don’t do it.” A wise
woman, that Heidi MacDonald.
The reasons I pass along that advice are twofold. One is
selfish. The fewer of you who battle your way into the ranks,
fewer I have to hunt down like dogs to eliminate competition.
other is entirely altruistic. There are a lot more pitfalls
frustrations to being a comics creator than you can possibly
imagine. Sure, there are rewards to make up for them but the
pitfalls and frustrations tend to get glossed over.
I’m here to tell you about one of ‘em. An
insidious and seemingly
harmless one. A stealthy, sneaky, deadly...well, you get the
picture. So, what is it, you ask?
Jump back to that first line, my friends. While many complain
about being too busy, having too much to do (okay, pretty much
just Brian Michael Bendis and Paul Jenkins these days), the opposite
condition can be just as detrimental to a freelancer.
because we are a creative lot. That means we get really good
making excuses. Excuse me, justifications.
As a freelancer, you get up when you want (provided there
matters to deal with), you work when you want and you knock off when
you want. Seems like heaven, doesn’t it?
In my personal experience, however, the biggest problem I run into is
that I’ve got too darn much time. Plus,
I’m the only one
determining how I use it. Let’s say, for example,
that I haul my
butt out of bed around 7:30 a.m. and grab myself a shower and some
breakfast. Maybe do a little reading over breakfast (a habit
I got into way back when I was in elementary school). So 9
o’clock rolls around and I’m thinking about work,
much like the average
Joe working the proverbial 9 to 5. Except I’ve got
no time clock
to punch. I’ve got no boss whose going to be
hovering around my
cubicle, waiting to see just when I decide to show.
me and I’m a reasonable kind of guy to answer to.
not entirely true, as the people I’ve supervised in my 9 to 5
attest. I’m kind of a pain and a
stickler. It’s just that
all that goes out the window when I’m just answering to
So shoot me.)
Anyway, I’m reading away and realize I’ve only got
five more pages to
the end of the chapter. So I give myself leave to finish it
off. After all, I’ve got all the time in the
world. All 24
hours in the day are mine to do with as I please. Then maybe
finish off that chapter and am really getting into the book.
decide to let myself go one more before quitting.
What’s the harm?
Except now we’re looking at 10 o’clock.
Time to crack down, boot
up that computer and pound the keyboard. Boo yaa.
Of course, once the computer is humming, I’ve gotta check
After all, something important may have come in from an editor or an
interviewer or an adoring fan. It could happen!
the email is checked (and sometimes answered), I might as well check
the daily comics news sites, right? A quick trip to Comics
Continuum, Comic Book Resources and Newsarama only keep me up to speed
on what’s moving and who’s shaking in this wacky
comics industry of
ours. All to the good.
Only now we’re looking at 11:30 or noon. Suddenly,
the morning is
gone. Usually, my growling stomach will remind me of that
lunchtime. Still, I’ve got all the time in the
24 hours in the day are mine to do with as I please.
pounding that keyboard after quieting the stomach. Well, that
reading a little more over lunch. Maybe just a
Then back to work! Okay, not so much back to work as to work.
All well and good, except on the days that I realize I need to get
something mailed. See, I’ve found I can shave a day
time by dropping it at the main post office. No problem,
though. Quick trip to the post office, zip back home, then
to work! Well, to work. Still, not a
got all the time in the world. All 24 hours in the day are
to do with as I please.
Then sometimes while I’m out, I remember a couple other
need running: some groceries need to be picked up, the car needs
washing, I could use another pair of jeans, that kind of
Oh, and I should probably stop at the bookstore. Seems like
almost done with that novel I’ve been reading.
figure it. I just started the thing yesterday.
Anyway, home by 3:00 and rarin’ to go. Just need to
take a second
to look through my mail, which has arrived while I was out.
Probably should check my email again too. Just in case an
sent me something. Or someone wants an interview.
Or I got
something from an adoring fan. Then back to work.
sorta. Still not so much back as to.
Then, it occurs to me that the whole editorial communication thing is a
two-way street. Maybe I should make some calls and send some
emails. Or maybe my phone rings and it’s one of my
compadres wanting to discuss the latest news, ask advice on a sticking
plot point or discuss how frustrating it is that sometimes it seems
nothing gets done. “Weird,” he says,
“because I’ve got all the
time in the world. All 24 hours in the day are mind to do
I please.” All I can do is agree.
Bizarrely, by then suppertime has rolled around, which knocks down
another hour or two, depending on whether I’m eating at home,
together with friends, watching the news or reading as I eat, that kind
of thing. Then, back to work. Well,
sorta. Still not
so much back as to. Not to worry. (I’ll
spare you the
refrain this time. I think you can guess it by now.)
So, by the time 8 or 9 at night rolls around, it begins to seem a
little too late to be starting something new. Fresh start in
morning and all that. And maybe Buffy is on. Maybe
pal calls. Maybe a friend stops by.
And, as midnight is getting near when it occurs to me -- I’ve
column I’ve promised to an online website. One that
has to be
done for tomorrow.
At that point, I usually pound my head on the desk for a bit.
Quite refreshing, actually. Really wakes you up.
you want to be asleep. I like to get at least 6 or 7 hours of
stuff when I can. I rub my eyes, glare at the clock and think
myself that I don’t really have to get up first thing
I’ll just sleep in. Sure, I’ve got some
deadlines coming up but,
I’ve got all the time in the world. All 24 hours in
the day are
mine to do with as I please.
That, my friends, is one of the major pitfalls of freelancing.