This post will have three parts, in increasing length. In the first part, I’ll explain in simple terms what I’ve been doing and where the website and In Extremis will be in the near-future. In the second part, we’ll go back over the Ajikah, my last attempt at creating an in-universe explanation for this website, why I did that, and why I’ve changed it up. Finally—and this is the longest part—I will look back on 10 years of In Extremis; I won’t cover every detail but 10 years is a lot of ground to cover, as well as a look forward.
I’ve alluded to it briefly over the past year, but I will not be facilitating this website through the Ajikah anymore, but instead through a singular character. This character will receive a proper introduction in a Future Plans post coming soon, but there will not be any more recurring bits—Forecasts, Soundtrack Saturdays, Wrap-Ups, etc.—in favour of having more to put towards the artistic work of In Extremis. The site has been streamlined a bit, and future Expeditions will be done in a way that’s more conducive to me not feeling pressured to do certain things at certain times to meet deadlines (all of my own design). In that vein, I’m not yet ready to announce when there will be new material in the form of an Expedition just yet, but soon.
I’m still finding that I have a pretty high creative output and when I feel healthy I’m not frustrated at all by the rate at which I’m creating, but I took the hiatus to step back and reorganize and reevaluate how I think about and engage with creating art for In Extremis. Not just the visual kind, but art in the broad sense: music, visual art, stories, background information, ideas. I need to give myself the space and time to be creative in a healthy way. The Expeditions will be more analogous to seasons, where we’ll take a journey together for some time, and then I can step back between seasons and take breaks as needed before I feel (self-)pressured to determine the direction of the next and (self-)impose some deadlines.
So that’s the TL;DR of the hiatus. Whether you’re new (hi!) or returning now that I’m returning, I feel really confident that things will be better because generally my life is better now, and there’s still so much of Omneutta left to discover.
What Happened to the Ajikah?
As I said in the hiatus announcement, I realized in late 2021 that I was spending more time creating the ancillary parts of In Extremis than I was creating what “needed” to be done. While the designations are arbitrary since I’m not depending on this to feed or house myself, I really mean that I spent more time working on the presentation and window dressings of a group created for the sole purpose of “running” the website than I did the art that I wanted to fill the website with. I started with making characters and loved them so much that I decided to make a world around them and thus created In Extremis. But I wasn’t doing much of that with the Ajikah anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed doing what I did with the Ajikah. I was invested in making characters, and having some defined personality types made the social media posts easier, made posting in general easier; there were definitely upsides to creating the Ajikah and its characters. One of the first upsides was Rucu, a character I made because I did want the pori language to make more sense than it had in the past, but I needed a vehicle to drive that change. Having both Baic and Padi to handle posting let me be both engaging and dry when I felt like the posts needed it. Because of the characters I made and their personalities I had ideas for projects I still want to explore in future Expeditions, once I figure out how they fit in to future Expeditions.
Speaking of future Expeditions, I’ll be getting into more of the character handling them in a Future Plans post coming soon, but I’ve figured out enough that the overall idea of going somewhere and focusing on an aspect of that place, then coming back and “reporting” on it will stay the same. However, as mentioned earlier I’m reducing it down to one character. There will be some social media posts capturing “photos” and real-time observations while out on the Expedition—she’s not the best photographer—and a planned release of media upon her return. I’d like each Expedition to tell a more complete story in terms of both general theme and actually weaving together lore and stories to feel like a real “season” experience for you all. The beginning should make you want to keep coming back for each release until the end, and the end should bring a sense of finality and completion.
While the first Expedition in a new format will always be somewhat of a trial run, I’m still figuring out timing and scope on things, how long the exploration part itself is, when to release promotional images, teasers, how long to run the reporting, formatting of the page itself, etc. Unlike the past time when I changed almost everything about previous Expeditions’ pages, I do know I’m going to leave them largely alone save for some new artwork to make the Expeditions page itself a little more cohesive and lively.
There’s two more things to talk about in this section, and those are the day-to-day of In Extremis, and specifically the Gallants comic. Generally, I’d like to spend less time on the website if it’s not to put articles, pages, artwork, lore, and other work up, less time fiddling with formatting and more time creating basically. That being said, I do envision Kaniovac (aforementioned singular caretaker of the website) making some social media posts from time to time, definitely part of the exploration of an Expedition, during the rollout of art, music, and stories, but also every now and then when I consider In Extremis to be in between “seasons” or Expeditions. Can’t let you guys forget, right? Part of that is the Gallants comic. Originally I set out for it to be a weekly thing and while I could (at the time) and still can produce them that quickly, I don’t want to commit to a set time frame just yet as I figure out the timing for an Expedition, but I do know that I want to get them out on a consistent and recurring basis.
A Decade of In Extremis
This is the longest part for this post, as one might expect for a discussion of 10 years to be. This all started when I needed to draw some characters for a landscape painting I wanted to try in an art class. I kept drawing and refining the characters over a series of pieces and soon I was thinking about the characters outside of class when I was home. From that started to spring worlds that felt interesting to put these characters in, and then research on world building and it all spirals from there. Pretty early on as I was writing the main story I was envisioning for these characters I realized these worlds were a perfect avenue for experimentation: I could write several different kinds and genres of stories in these worlds, I could write many different kinds of music, and imagining the worlds led to lots of art to try and get better at.
The first big question to answer was how to get the story out. My first attempt was on a couple message boards, building giant walls of text in places meant for discussion and soon spun up a wikia to hold the context that didn’t make it into the book but helped readers understand references for a deeper connection with the story. So from the beginning the story and everything else have been separated on at least two websites and/or platforms. We’ll get to unpacking that in a second. After I realized that maintaining a wikia for the context of the universe and posting the story on message boards and running a blog about it was a lot to handle, I consolidated the wikia and the blog into one website. Thus, the earliest version of Skeli’n Studios was born.
Very early on after making a website I “finished” what I considered at the time the first story of In Extremis and launched a kickstarter to self publish it as a novel. After it didn’t meet the goal I set to self publish, I got feedback that the whole of it was fairly disjointed, people who came to the website from the kickstarter rightly pointed out they couldn’t tell where to start and then where to go once I had piqued their interest. From there I set out to develop the website more.
I can start with hindsight and say that this period resulted in lots of development on the rest of In Extremis. I’ve done tons of work over the majority of the past 10 years on character design, landscape art, architecture, cultural development, I even wrote a lore book on how to prepare a certain in-universe delicacy (not something I thought I’d do 10 years ago). It’s been a fun journey and I don’t want this to sound like I regret working on what I ended up creating, but it did push the stories I wanted to write into the backseat. Over 10 years I still haven’t fully released that first “finished” story, I’ve written two lore book series that serve as prequels to the aforementioned story, and only started to develop another Plot-Arc.
When I first set out to sort of divorce my own personality from the website and make it function as an in-universe construction, I wanted to make characters who would carry out what I felt my responsibilities were to the website, so that I could sort of disappear. I think my decision making at the time can feel familiar to a lot of artists—especially those who exist in this present atmosphere—I wanted to let the art stand on it’s own merits and make In Extremis less about me. In the end it gave me less time for me to make the art and I spent a lot of time talking about what I wanted to do and what I got accomplished compared to a plan each week or month and as interested as I was in carving out personalities for these characters so I didn’t have to think about how my personality fit in to showing In Extremis to an audience, it took away from my time to make the art.
Since stepping back I’ve also realized the decision to create the Ajikah also was me succumbing to the modern pressures of social media to be constantly posting and engaged. I had without really my own conscious thought prioritized posting daily or “frequently enough” and let the art that I was making be secondary to making sure that the posts were on time, often times not having much to discuss in each post. For the vast majority of In Extremis I’ve been a student with fairly flexible hours and the Ajikah came at a time where I was figuring out how to fit In Extremis around a more traditional employment schedule.
So, with all of that said I was beginning to feel some burnout or lack of interest in In Extremis in late 2021. I had started working on some non-In Extremis music earlier that year (that partially turned into Patches of Tranquility) and felt like that was going to be healthier to spend more of my free time on until that project was completed. While I was away I thought about what wasn’t working for me in regards to In Extremis, what was working, what I wanted to be doing, and to set a more realistic and healthy vision for myself going forward. I want to spend more time writing stories, drawing, painting, making music, and less time having a “social presence”. I’ll post what I do, watch how I’m feeling, and bring you all along for the ride. You’ll hear from me again soon!