It’s a strange feeling when the career you’ve spent years building for yourself starts to evolve into something completely different before your eyes. It doesn’t happen suddenly, but you feel it. And after trying to ignore it for the last few years I’ve reluctantly decided to finally come to terms with it.
It doesn’t help that I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. The fact that I managed to carve a career for myself at all is a sweet miracle. So you can imagine my growing distress now that the one thing I was interested in enough to turn into a job is changing into something ugly.
I am a Flash Animator. If you don’t know exactly what that is, don’t worry. You don’t really need to anymore. But to sum it up, I am basically given designs and asked to make them move, i.e. animate. Sometimes it’s cool stuff, but these days it’s mostly ads.
Not to get too technical, Flash isn’t supported in many places anymore. Thanks a lot, Steve Jobs. This means I have to either learn to animate using another programming language, or change career altogether. The other language options don’t interest me. At all. If I use anything else to create what I create now, I will be omitting the only part of my skill set that I enjoy using at work, and my job will become a black hole of boredom.
So now I feel like I’m back in high school, wondering what the hell I am going to do with my life. The little nest I’ve made is being dismantled so I’ve got to build a new one, with no freaking twigs in sight.
So I decide to do exactly what I did the day I left high school – I sit and I think. Not, ‘What is possible?’ but instead, ‘What do I love, and how can I make it possible?’.
The first time around the answer was art. I loved art and I loved to draw, so how could I turn this into a job? I did a lot of research and I found my answer 1000km away at Melbourne Art School, with a course in Graphic Design & Flash Animation. I took all the money I’d saved from pumping petrol and delivering pizzas and off I went. And that was the start of my life.
So now that I’ve taken it as far as I can – worked all around the world and become proficient to a point where I can do it with my eyes closed, twelve years later I’m at a crossroads: Take my husband and 2 cats and move to Canada, study a different kind of animation and go work in the movies so I don’t throw my entire career away completely? Or find something else I want to do instead? I ask myself again, ‘What do I love, and how can I make it possible?’.
If I think about it, what I actually loved about art and animation in the first place was the way I could use it to tell stories. I’ve been writing for years, was always complimented on my writing at school, and it would be a dream come true if something I wrote, anything, were to be published.
Since Canada is not exactly an option right now with my husband studying, fate (for now at least) decides for me. I will be a Struggling Writer.
Just like being an Artist, I know that being a Writer will make me very little $$$. But if I really cared about having lots of money I wouldn’t have spent the last twelve years spending every dollar I had on traveling and animating, even though in the end I managed to do pretty well out of it. And for now I’m still lucky enough to be gainfully employed and paying the bills so it’s the perfect time to improve on my skills while riding the remains of my current career out for as long as humanly possible. If Flash ends up lasting another ten years, then I’ll be pretty freaking happy.
So what does a wannabe writer with only illustration and animation skills study? A course called Writing Picture Books, of course. Truth be told I’ve written children’s stories before on my own, actually sent them to publishers and was rejected. So what better way to stop sucking at something than to get off your ass and learn to become good at it?
So at the start of this year I found a course online and I’ve been blogging my progress on another blog right here. I’m hoping to use what I’m learning to help others, and hopefully the fact that I have an ongoing blog about it will keep pushing me to take it beyond the course and to wonderful places.
Watch this space.