Before I forget - The Weaponry Chapter Two Fundraiser, (found here [link] ) Has just a little less than a fortnight remaining. We have already surpassed our goal, so THANK YOU to everyone who supported Weaponry and myself. For those of you who wanted to be a part of the piracy magic, you still have time to get in on exclusive wallpapers, bonus music tracks, the print version pdfs, or even the physical loot up for grabs including puppets, t-shirts, comic books, prints, and loads more!!
And now, just to bring it down for a moment...
Every now and then, life has a way of horse-kicking you right in the teeth, and the last four months has been that for me.
Last November, my dearest and favourite aunt was diagnosed with cancer. At first we were told she had a 95% chance of survival, that her cancer was common, non-aggressive, and that they had many ways of treating it. Despite sharing Christmas dinner with my family while she was in the operating room, we had high spirits and were all sending her our love and prayers...
What followed was bad news that just kept getting worse. Operation after operation, with new tumours springing up every week, every sort of complication possible, and little contact with my uncle as he tried to come to terms with what was happening and help my aunt as best he could. My cousin, who during all of this has just turned 20, was recalled from his first adventure post-grad in Australia. My other aunt was running communications and interference with our very concerned and often boisterous German family all trying to help, and to reassure themselves that she was going to be okay.
And then, last week we were told that there was nothing that could be done. Her survival rate has dropped to 1%. I finally got to see her last week. She looked better than I could have hoped. When my dad was hospitalized a few years ago from an aneurism, he had looked alien, baby-like and a stranger....I had expected my dying aunt to look the same. But she looked her same beautiful self, albeit washed out, bald and exhausted. We were fortunate to be there on a day when the vomiting had subsided for about 20 minutes, that the drugs had not eschewed her clarity, and she was present with us. We said our good-byes.
It was hard to let go of Suzanne. She has been one of my role models growing up. A being of such warmth and generosity of spirit, beautiful and encouraging and loving. She made tough choices and stuck with them all in the effort to do what was right for her own body, her marriage, her son, her life, and the world. I always told myself that if I was doing half-as-well as she was by the time I was her age, I'd consider my life a success. To lose her at 50 seems unreal. Wrong somehow. But if anyone can face such ravages with grace and peace, it's her.
Add to all of this the fact that a couple of my closest and most beloved friends have been going through hell (emotional, mental and financial all at once), and that I recently learned that the family business where I got my first job and thence returned to for the last 9 years, is going to be sold and that I will be out of work...
Horse-kicks to the teeth.
In the midst of all of this, I made my new year's resolution to make less work for myself. To simply focus on the projects left over from last year (which are ample on their own accounts). To better manage my time. To learn to relax....
I pendulum swung to the other end of the spectrum. I didn't want to do anything productive. I wanted to run screaming from my obligations. I allowed myself to be easily and repeatedly distracted. I lost my ability to multitask. And I hated myself every moment of that avoidance. I felt - and still feel - so guilty for not just soldiering on. I am blessed with supporting friends and readers and wonderful strangers who have given me commissions, bought my books, pitched in to my fundraiser...and yet, through it all I looked at this steadily growing pile of work I had to do and I just wanted to scream.
It wasn't even artist's block. I have been sketching and practising despite it all. I have been studying and learning, and creating in minor, constant ways... I just....couldn't be fucked. To do anything but escape - into watching movies, reading books, going to theatre and opera and films with friends... And spending money I didn't have.
But my life goes on. It does not stop or wait for me to grieve. It does not get better without me fighting tooth and nail as I have been doing the last ten years to make it better... I have made precious little progress in my art and in my readership and in my creative 'career' (read: hobbies). But I love doing this work. And whether or not I can ever do any of this for a living, I just have to keep repeating the mantra that has been my fall back this last hard while:
"Make Good Art."
Thank you Neil Gaiman, and Guy Gavriel Kay, and Joe Abercrombie and all of my inspirations. Thank YOU for sticking with me, even when I seemed to be going silent and crazy.
The horse may have kicked me in the teeth, but I still have to get back on it.