New Year’s Resolutions

Copied from a post on the ComicFury forums, here are my New Years’ Resolutions for 2020. I started off with my art resolutions, but the general resolutions are closely connected to those.

OK, it’s the time of year for this and allows me to procrastinate actually working on a comic (which it’s also the time of year for – procrastination, I mean)
In 2020, I will:

  • Finish at least one project out of several to make room for new ones. The best candidate is AbĂși’s Travels because that has the flimsiest premise and is also closest to completion already. Maybe 8 to 10 pages? But I’ve been saying that for years.
  • Focus on traditional art again, specifically on the things that make traditional art traditional: working with real materials, ink, paper, paints, dyes and traditional techniques. I will study and try out new materials and add some new skills to my toolkit, maybe calligraphy so I can hand-letter again to a higher standard than the last time I did this. Remedying all the other flaws in my work will take a back seat to this, though I will work on perspective and backgrounds some. I have a strong emotional need to be less dependent on technology, because Big Tech sucks, and FLOSS is only marginally better.
  • Produce at least a page a week throughout the year.
  • Get to the end of the first Cultish Manners storyline and into the next one.
  • Update my self-hosted website so it contains all of AbĂși’s Travels and Cultish Manners
  • Update my Substack newsletter exactly once a week.

A few words about the how

I have a set of non-art resolutions and it turns out that keeping to them is a necessary condition for meeting the goals of the art resolutions. In order of importance:

  • I need to sleep more. A LOT more. I will set myself a goal of sleeping 8 hours a day on workdays and 9 on weekends. For much of the past year, I’ve relied on artificial means to stay awake and it’s wearing me down. Right now, I can feel this very strongly. To do this, I will have to insist on stricter sleep hygiene including occasionally moving to our guest room if necessary – if the dogs are too noisy or my spouse is reading or watching movies in bed.
  • To help make the previous resolution possible (sigh, it’s dependencies upon dependencies) I will need to be even more active than I am now. Many days, I’m just not physically tired enough to sleep even when my mind is exhausted. I have just raised my step count target in Fitbit from 12,000 to 14,000, and am planning to make up the difference in more and longer walks with the dogs, which will also help them be quieter at night. Keeping my weight down also helps me with other health issues (apnea and gastric reflux) that prevent me from sleeping.
  • Starting in April, I will work fewer hours in my day job. The only reason I’m not doing this earlier is that the company will need to hire a part-timer to fill the missing hours, but when that’s sorted, I’m going to 32 hours. Most of the time I gain is already booked for more sleep and more physical activity, but my ability to use the remaining hours will hopefully improve.

Finally, I have some New Years’ resolutions that don’t have the ultimate purpose of allowing me to produce more art and get more stuf done.

  • Social media: I will KonMari all my social media stuff, commercial and federated alike, by blocking accounts that don’t spark joy. That is, the old criteria by which I block an account if it annoys or offends me directly or the person is acting like a shithead towards others are no longer strict enough. Instead, if there’s no good reason not to block an account, blocked it will be. This will result in me blocking several hundred accounts a day on Twitter alone, but I can live with that.
  • Also social media: one thing on social media that does spark joy for me is seeing more nudity on it, so I will follow accounts that offer that. Not necessarily lewd accounts, but not necessarily only not-lewd accounts either. Whatever increases my own happiness.

In the forum post, I only make brief mention of how I want to change my technology approach. I want to reduce my dependence on Big Tech without pivoting 100% to Free, Libre and Open Source technology, because I no longer believe that a strict FLOSS approach is worth striving for. A lot of FLOSS is in the de-facto control of Big Tech (FAGAM + Twitter + Netflix) or affected by some of the same toxic thinking that has helped Big Tech create our present Dystopian hellscape. Here’s what I want to do:

  • Make optimal use of the technology I already own, so I don’t have to give tech companies more of my money.
  • Learn more about the deep tools that I can assume to be present in any system that I use. I may never be a coder, but learning to use common technology, like Make, that is present in every system I use, will still benefit me (see the recent and possibly not permanent blog entry by Matthew Graybosch on using Makefiles to create static websites from templates; a solution that is both complex and simple – you need to learn a few things to do it, but when you do, you can pretty much always do it)
  • Use a combination of small tech and FLOSS that works for me to accomplish most goals. Right now, I increasingly use Emacs org.mode, a stack of FLOSS solutions, for editing text, and proprietary Affinity products for editing images and page layouts. This works for me and minimizes harm.
  • Increase my self-hosting by adding static websites and by making fuller use of the webspace I control, e.g. by implementing my own cloud hosting solution. That’s not going to happen within the first few weeks of the years, but as a longer-term goal, I can make that work.