I was never going to be a musician — my utter lack of ability to play any instrument, nor hold a tune when attempting to sing put paid to that dream upsettingly early in life — but I have long held a fascination with the very concept of an E.P., and what it must be like to release one.
I can’t explain why the E.P. — that’s “extended play” if you’re the kind who likes to use non-acronym names for things — has been the object of such interest for me as long as it has; it’s basically just a stopgap between single and album in terms of musical release formats, usually for something that had four or so songs on it. (As opposed to CD singles when I was younger, which often tended to have three or four songs on there but never got described as E.P.s; look, I don’t make the rules, I just get really obsessed by them.)
Nevertheless, I loved the idea of it; the very notion of creating an entire format because it didn’t fit into one category or the other. I loved the idea of it being too long and too short at the same time, and just being this other thing, instead.
The closest thing to an E.P. in terms of the written word would be… a novella, I guess? Or, in this day and age, probably something like a Kindle Single, not that that’s a format that anyone really refers to these days anymore. (Oh, the internet and digital publishing, the many pieces of wreckage you’ve left behind…!) I’ve often wished that there was a proper E.P. format for writing, and that I could release things in that format over and over again. It’s this genuinely random, inexplicable ambition that I’ve held for decades by this point, destined to never be fulfilled. And yet.
My brain is trying to readjust to being work-busy again. If there’s one thing I’ve realized about myself in the last year or so, it’s that my head is a metaphorical vacuum that can and will be filled by whatever is around to fill it, especially workwise. If I have one big story to do, then that one story will take up my entire day. If I have three, then those three will find ways to coexist and share space. It’s just how it is.
I didn’t expect this to be the case. When things started to slow down for me last year, I had this moment of thinking, well, at least I’ll be able to get all these other things done as well. I imagined being able to finish work by lunch aAnd then step away to take care of something, anything, else that required attention — housecleaning, my permanently overdue organization of my finances, literally anything that didn’t involve me sitting at my desk in my office until 5pm every day, as I’d become used to doing. That didn’t happen, though; instead, I found myself slowing down in terms of productivity — in part due to self-consciousness over not having enough work, asking myself if I wasn’t good at it anymore — so that one task would take the time available, no matter what.
What this has meant now that things are changing again (however long term that change may end up being) is that I’m having to relearn how to juggle projects, how to switch mental gears from one thing to the next without too much effort, and how not to drop balls along the way. (This year, that’s been more difficult than I’d like to admit, alas.) It’s an unexpected lesson to have to relearn, and one very unlike riding a bike as much as I might wish differently, but if 2022 is going to continue along the lines of these first few weeks, it’s one that’s going to become increasingly necessary.
This is a good thing, I’ll tell myself over and over.
I didn’t really set out to make February almost entirely a month of image-only posts, with the exception of, what, two written pieces at the very start of the month. I promise, it wasn’t some kind of smart and secret plan for the final written piece for the entire month to be talking about how I need a break, and then I take a pretty-much-month-long break from writing here. I wish it had been; then I’d look like I knew what I was doing.
Instead, it’s genuinely just the result of February being an unusually busy month, mentally, if not in practical, physical terms. There was a lot going on in a lot of places, and I spent much of the month thinking about things, instead of writing posts here. That sounds more intentionally teasing than it should; it’s really just that it’s a lot of personal stuff that relates to other people whose laundry I’m not willing to show here, is all.
I mean, it’s still true that the newsletter is something that takes up more brain space than I’m entirely comfortable with, but that’s also something that I’m getting a hold on as it goes along. Somehow, I’m into my third month of doing it, and I remain more than a little surprised by how much I’m enjoying it and how rewarding it feels after the not-rewarding-at-all experiences of work in almost the entirety of 2021. Turns out, I can still write about comics and have fun with it while also doing actual reporting about things I think are important! Who knew?
(I’m making a joke out of it, but the newsletter really is something that I find myself getting a lot out of, in ways and to extents that I hadn’t really expected. If only I could work out how to monetize it in ways I’d feel comfortable with, everything would be going swimmingly.)
All of this is to say: Even though my March is already filling up with more writing gigs/better writing gigs than I’ve enjoyed in awhile, I’m going to try and find the time and brain space to write here more often than in the last month. After all, this place is like self care, when I do it right.