I won’t spend much time reflecting on the past year here. My mind is already busy with developing plans for 2018. But it is appropriate to say that 2017 has been significant for me as I finally completed and published my first comic book in two languages.
Just one year ago, I was living alone in a vacant house at the Sagami Bay. A friend had offered me to stay there. While continuing my part time job as graphic designer, I was rushing to get the last two chapters of The Reign of God done… three years of work had passed, it was still a steep way ahead with proofreading, setting up accounts on Amazon and Apple, formatting all pages for correct publishing, creating a website from scratch, making promotional material… at the end of the year I realized that I had basically started becoming an entrepreneur, not just a writer!
It’s a joy to see your own work as a real product on the web and to call yourself an author. It’s wonderful when friends who buy my book share their excitement with me or tell me how much they liked it. However, running this career as an artist is quite hard. I will do my best to continue and that the book will find its way to the right readers. With God’s help, I can survive until the next book is ready.
Many people ask me what kept me determined to work on it. “You have such dedication!” There are many reasons. But one is that I had become sick of myself dreaming up cool things but never following through on fulfilling them. I think I’m fairly good at conceptualizing and planning creative projects, and I have many ideas. But in the past too often it happened that I would say “I want to do…” but in the end would not shoot that film, would not write that book, would not begin that art project… I started wondering: “Am I actually capable of accomplishing anything?”
Telling the story of Jesus had been a long time dream. Something I absolutely didn’t want to blunder. So I kept it for later. “I’ll do this when I’m mature enough.” I realized I kept myself from doing anything concrete and just continue dreaming until I thought “If this is really what I wanna do in my life, then why not now?” Starting with small steps, I kept my mouth shut until I had prepared enough work to make a public promise. A promise to make sure I would follow through. And not disappoint myself again, like with all the other dreams I had had. It’s a kind of “negative motivation” but a powerful enough whip to keep me going (don’t worry, I had positive motivations, too).
Recently I read some motivational article (other people’s success stories are the basic cocain of all startuppers) and misread “Tell the future you what to do” as “Tell the future what to do.” I actually like this better. Nothing that happens tomorrow or next month, or throughout this coming year has been determined. The future is like a vast open territory patiently waiting to be shaped. But unless we take ownership of it the future will shape us, not vice versa. The first step is to change our own habits, rhythm, mind and body. Our future changes in proportion of how much we change ourself and take action towards the outside world. Even if it’s only a small part we can take control of—it’s already better than doing nothing. For that, imagining our future selves and coming up with an outrageous plan is critical. God moves when we move, too.
With all that said, I’m very excited about 2018. I will try to find a Japanese publisher to get The Reign of God out in Japanese. (Write me if you can collaborate on Spanish or Arabic!) I will start writing the next book for which I have great ideas. And I want to share more about faith and art on this blog.