SUMO: Ozeki Tochinoshin
What’s On the Drawing Board

The other day I made a post giving details for past medical vague-booking, and that got me thinking that there was ANOTHER bit of vague-booking I’ve done that I never got around to explaining. So I guess it’s high time that I did an info dump on what’s going on in my professional life, too.

If I recall correctly, my mysterious post said something about “change being in the air,” with exactly WHAT the change would be remaining undecided. And yeah . . . life was kinda like that for a few weeks. But now it’s all been figured out, and as of today, the plan is being put into action. So here’s the dealio . . .

Let’s start with the path that wound up being not taken.

I really like living in the state of Washington in general, and in the greater Seattle area in specific. After spending five years in the San Diego area, I came to realize that the green hills and laid back culture was a much better fit for me, and though I’d enjoyed being in an area where it was 72° and sunny nearly every day of the year, I was just more comfortable in the overcast and cooler Pacific Northwest. However, I’ve always said that for the right job, I’d leave again—I’d just know that when that job had run its course I’d want to return to the PNW as quickly as possible.

About 8 weeks ago, a job like that came onto my radar. It was at a really big digital game publisher (like top of the industry big) and would have put me right in the thick of their physical publishing narrative projects—books, graphic novels, etc. It was a company where I already had friends (including the hiring manager) in an area where I knew lots of people, and it was a high level position. Basically, it was “one of those opportunities,” so I threw my hat into the ring.

No need to make a long story out of this, although I’d have been a good choice for the gig, another highly qualified candidate got the nod. Often in cases like this, people come along and say “tough luck,” or “sorry you didn’t get it,” or “bad beat,” but I have a hard time thinking those apply here. Because in the end, although I didn’t get that particular job, I DO get to stay here in the PNW, which is where I want to be.

Of course, that doesn’t make me immune to other changes. And although I’m not headed down to SoCal again, I can feel the sands shifting beneath my feet.

For the past two years (and a little bit) I’ve been working as a contractor at Wizards of the Coast. Because it’s been such a long time, and because I’ve had such a nifty title—D&D Producer—it’s been easy for folks to forget (or to never realize) that this has been a contract gig, but it always has been. I was brought in to do a specific task, achieve a specific set of goals, and help out in other ways as needs arose. I’ve helped manage the production of most of the recent D&D products—Tomb of Annihilation, Tales of the Yawning Portal, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes—plus a few that are still upcoming (like the recently announced Dragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage).

As much as I’ve enjoyed that, and as much as my work has been appreciated, though, it has always been done with the knowledge that the position itself, the seat I was sitting in, was a temporary one. And round about the beginning of this year, it became clear that the need for that temporary seat was lessening. Basically, working together, the team and I have solved many of the problems that required me to be brought on in the first place, which means that many of the tasks that have occupied my time are going away (many of them are gone already).

Of course, there are still some tasks that remain on my desk, and my broad set of skills and experiences makes me a handy guy to have around as a “utility infielder” on the bench. But those things no longer constitute a full-time slice of the pie. So back in January I began working with the team leaders to figure out how much of my time they DID need and how much extra resource they wanted to keep reserved for “on call” availability. It was a more complicated question than anyone really suspected, but in the end we sorted it out.

As of this week and running through the end of the year (and hopefully longer), I’ll still be a contractor at Wizards, but I’ll only be there half-time (about 20 hours a week). I’ll still be performing some key functions—contacting and supervising freelance writers and editors, for instance—and I’ll still be available for work “off the bench.” But slice it any way you want, I am no longer a full-time Wizard.

I’m also still doing rewriting work for Viz Media on various manga titles. (I’m currently working on titles such as Ultraman, Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, and the upcoming Record of Grancrest War.) Since starting my gig at Wizards, that work has been on evenings and weekends—now it gets at least partially rolled back into the work week.

But that still leaves a gap in my time and, let’s be honest, my earnings. But I’ve managed to save some money during the past two years, and I’m going to use some of that to pay myself NOT to go immediately back into the freelance pool. I’m going to buy some of my own time to focus it on cartooning projects I’ve had sitting on the backburner for a while (in some cases for years).

Of all the various creative activities I do professionally, cartooning is the one I love the most. It’s also the one I’ve had the least success at (particularly if you measure “success” as “generating enough money to pay the rent,” and I don’t by any means limit my definition to that).

What are these projects? When can you see them? And how do I plan to turn personal projects into an income stream? All very good questions. Questions that I intend to answer in my NEXT blog post, because on top of everything else I’ve got to start giving people a reason to come back to my blog on a regular basis so I can be sure that my family, friends, and fans know about ALL my current and upcoming projects!

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