Long Time Coming

Short version: Submitted my grades and my teaching sabbatical starts TODAY.

Long version: In 2018, I was co-writing Avengers, writing Champions and Dungeons & Dragons, and wrapping up Wayward.

Quite a few industry friends told me it was ridiculous that I kept my full-time teaching gig at the college. Clearly it was time to quit. I mean, damn, I was writing Avengers as the Infinity War movie hit theaters. There were project opportunities and conventions aplenty.

And yet, I couldn’t help but keep going with the pragmatic approach that got me to that point.

Juggling full-time teaching with a full-time writing slate has been stressful. Most evenings after school I have dinner with Stacy and then write until late at night. Most weekends are writing days instead of social time.

Even still, having both jobs has given me financial and creative freedom. Bills being covered by teaching income meant I couldn’t be forced to take a writing project I didn’t want or an insulting page rate.

Having creative projects kept teaching from feeling stagnant. Teaching kept my creative batteries charged with student enthusiasm and made me a better communicator.

In 2020, I finally had my finances set up so I could take an extended teaching sabbatical. One job instead of two. Better work-life balance and more travel for fun. The world spun off its axis and that didn’t happen.

When a bunch of projects crumbled and my regular writing gigs had ‘pencils down’ for 6 months during the pandemic, I was okay. Teaching came through. My pragmatic approach kept things steady despite the crunch.

I see so many creative people, incredible creators, sideswiped by layoffs or let go from dream projects and I am so, so thankful I’ve been able to weather the storm.

Starting today, I’m finally taking that teaching sabbatical, exactly 4 years after the original plan.
16 months away from teaching.

I know I’ve worked hard to get to this point, but it also feels strange. I have to keep telling pragmatic Jim that the plan is solid.

I feel happy, I feel a bit guilty, I feel relieved, and a bit paranoid.
It’s a maelstrom of feelings, if I’m being honest.

So few people get a career they love that fills them up and I have had two. It really is a blessing.
But I also need a break to make sure I don’t burn out.

Conan the Barbarian (and related Hyborian projects) charges forward for the foreseeable future. The D&D Young Adventurer’s Guides continue and a couple other fun projects are in the wings.

On the creative freelancing front, things are as solid as they’ve ever been.

There are so many factors out of our control, especially in creative careers where every part of the process (opportunity, execution, the market, the audience, timing) can make or break a project.

• Celebrate victories when they happen but don’t let them make you cocky.
• Shake off losses as best you can and don’t let them make you bitter.
If you figure out how to consistently do both those things, tell me your secret. 😉

11 years ago, I was unceremoniously dumped from writing Birds of Prey on the New 52 before a single issue saw print. At that moment, I was 100% convinced my career in comics was done.

But, I bounced back – Samurai Jack, Figment, D&D, Wayward, and a bunch of others.
Some amazing projects. Other deep disappointments.

At this moment, things are damn good.
Thank you for reading and helping me build this little dream. I try not to take any of it for granted.

  1. Hard work always pays off. I’ve been a fan of your Conan stuff since the Marvel days but what other stuff from you should I check out?

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