Monday, October 24, 2016

Back to Normal: Let's Write

First things first, if you're still waiting for a commission from me it will be on its way to you by the end of the month. It should not have taken this long. I apologize.

I'm thankful for all the commissions I had to do. It allowed me to escape for a time here and there into worlds I hadn't needed to consider before. It also forced me to adopt a sort of formal layout for them. Since I'm done with conventions for this year I'm looking forward to opening back up for commissions for the Christmas season. I'll announce that when I'm ready.

I've been thinking a lot about what to write next. There are several short story ideas swimming around the brainpan, as well as two ideas that could be novels along with continuing work on The Cold Distance. AND a collaboration on another novel, where there are stacks of notes waiting to be reviewed and hammered into a plot of some kind. I dream about stories, I've got lots of scraps of paper in my work bag with notes for things I've started and ideas that are growing. All indications are that I'm ready to get back to writing.

But it can't be scattershot - do this one day then another thing the next. I'll need some organization to get things done.

Which is where I usually flail in desperation because I'm terrible at organizing my home work time. There are sooo many distractions. Like Netflix (Luke Cage held my attention after the first half, Black Mirror is terrifying and thought-provoking); or books (the new Caleb Carr! my about to collapse 'to read' shelf); comics (stuff I got at conventions this year that I have stacked).

One thing that's not on the list is NaNoWriMo. I want to do it but... there's too much else going on. Resetting one's life is difficult and expectations have to be lowered a bit to allow room for grief. What I'm learning is that I can't wallow. What happened happened and I'm not the first person it's happened to.

I went to hang out with my best friends last Saturday night. We talked, drank and shared stories as we normally do but it was different this time. Not that they were different with me but I recognized how much I needed to be there, to feel normal and to know that it was okay. In fact, it was good to be normal. Life must go on.

Skies are cloudy for a while but there's some blue peeking through now and then. I'm all right with how it's going because I know the sun is on the other side of those clouds. And I need sun to feel okay.

In the weeks since Mom passed away I've opened up a bunch of documents to start writing. Haven't gotten much done on any of them, but that's not the point. At least so far. Looking at what I've got in progress is part of getting back to normal. Typing a few sentences here and there is part of getting back to normal. Absorbing stories is part of it, too. All of this is building up and allowing me to feel like it's okay to get back to normal.

Watch this space. When I get back to it, I'll let you know. It's slow and I'm NOT going to rush it but it's happening. Flow will come and stories will result.

Thanks for reading, gang. Knowing you're out there rooting for me, even a little, means the world. I can't do this without you.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sadness Sorrow Solace

There's some language here that may offend some, and talk about cancer and death. Heads up.

Life has been interesting the last four or five years. Lots of things going on professionally, my personal life has been and continues to be very stable over that time but there was a specter over everything for the last half of that time.

Cancer sucks. Fuck cancer. I understand now what deep anguish is and how it can affect me. No need for me to continue to wallow in self-pity/recrimination/immolation. Rather, I've been confronting the feelings of helplessness and despair as much as I can head on. The last four months in particular have been by far the absolute most difficult time of my life. However, there's been catharsis of late that came from working on so many commissions and more than a great deal of comfort from friends old and new.

In the time since I found out Mom was dying of an easily detectable and completely treatable colon cancer, I've worked hard. Not just at the day job but also at home and in my circles of friends. I've lost a few along the way to other life things but I think about them. I love them as much as I always have even though I don't reach out and make contact as often as I should. I ponder recriminations as to what I did to drive them away but it's not always me. They have life things going on too and they need to deal with them.

That's how I lose people more than anything else, just forgetting or not taking the time to send a card, an email, a text, make a phone call or anything that lets people know I'm thinking of them. Maybe it doesn't make much difference but I'll try to do better. At least where it concerns Christmas or holiday cards. And emails. I mean, I get a notification that someone has a birthday on Facebook and I don't click over to say "Happy Birthday!" when that's sooo easy. I tell myself I want to personalize it somehow, in some small way, give it a little kick like I would in real life.

And then it's gone and I'm on to the next crisis/task/whatever that demands my attention.

But I couldn't ignore cancer. I can't, going forward, either. Cancer is now a permanent part of my life and fuck cancer for taking my Mom. Fuck cancer for not having been cured.

I digress.

I haven't written on the novel since the beginning of August. My critique group is foundering a little but we'll get back in the groove. Everyone wants it to so I'm confident it will. I'm behind on a couple big projects at work but those will fall into place at the last possible second like they always do. This is Life. This is the messy stuff we should all put away when we get home so we can enjoy the best parts of Life. But often I confused it with living which it isn't. My wife has been the Rock I need, grounding me and feeding me and encouraging me. I doodle,  I've done a TON of Velocity Stories and I have a few more to go and I've batted around an idea with a buddy that could turn into something too.

There's a lot ahead but it's tinged with grief. I know it will lessen as time goes on and the hole in my heart will heal over eventually. All the little self-inflicted (imaginary) wounds are healing over bit by bit and I hope to reestablish certain valued friendships. It's an interesting time, one that could be pivotal.

Or it could just be a time that shit has happened and will continue.

It's up to me to do good with what I've got. There's love, friends, and lots of potential no matter what happens. That's the comfort available to me and I'm taking it. I know what living is, I know how to do it. I know what's important.

To everyone who has lost anyone to cancer, you are loved and valued and you're an awesome human. To everyone who has lost anyone for any reason, it will get better and there are things you can do to dilute the pain. Shutting out everyone who is still here and cares for you is not the right thing. Reach out to them, remind them you want to be included in everything. Go for it.

Mom always told me it was okay to try and fail at things. It's great advice. It's not license to be a jerk, it's permission to chase what matters to you. It's concession that you may not be ready for it despite what you think. As long as you don't hurt anyone in the process, go for it.

I miss my Mom but I have a lifetime's worth of memories. It's not the same but it's what there is.

We'll return to regular programming here soon. Thanks for your support, your words of caring, and the love you've shown me over the last few months. I mean it, you're all awesome humans.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Glad You Asked!

"How're the commissions coming?" - writer Nick Forristal

Nick's one of the good guys on the con circuit around here. We became friends a while back and we talk regularly. He's been a helluva cheerleader in keeping me on track getting all these commissions done for you guys. Do me a favor and check out his books. Buy some if you like. He'd appreciate it and so would I.

It's been a busy couple weeks between the day job and family stuff. Mom is hanging in there and so is Dad. There have been days where I couldn't focus enough to do the work and some days when I've been hyper-focused and getting lots and lots done. Up and down, the roller coaster goes round and round.

But that's the stuff that happens to everyone, it's nothing new. I know that well.

So, how ARE the commissions coming? I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I plan to work hard this weekend and through the week to finish up the run.

I can't thank you all enough. If you haven't heard from me, I'm heading into the home stretch. Everything should be going out in the next week to ten days. I'm trying to email everyone and I'm tracking stuff as best I can so I don't think I've forgotten anyone yet. If you ordered a commission and have NOT heard from me that I got it, hit me up here, on Twitter or on Facebook.  I've been posting scans and pics of the completed works there and sometimes on Instagram too. Follow along if you want to.

I'm getting some wonderful comments back from those who've already gotten their Velocity Stories in the mail, which makes me very humble. You all are so kind. Feel free to share pics on social media and if you want to use the #velocitystories hashtag, I'm cool with that. I'll look for them.

Okay, nose back to grindstone time. I'm going to have to fire up a newsletter as I've been threatening all year. And I'm going to be at Freestate Comicon on October 1 in Lawrence, Kansas, if you're in the area. That's my last scheduled appearance for the year and there will be a TON of wonderful people there and you'll be able to buy a con exclusive book that features sketches by the artists in attendance and a story by li'l ol' me.

So the next question is would any of you be interested in seeing a collection of these Velocity Stories? I've been toying with the idea on my daily commute. A pdf would be easy enough but maybe a print version would be cool. Let me know.

All right a couple things I've liked this week because there's too much hate out there right now: Star Trek TOS rewatch (I'm still in the middle of season 2); ARCADIA by Paknadel and Pfeiffer; the first volume of Matt Kindt's MIND MGMT (because of John Holloway's love for it) and discussions about coffee, whiskey and Baltimore.

Stay tuned. More to come. You're all awesome humans in my book.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Housecon Post-Con Debrief


Photo by Mike Sullivan.
I spent the entirety of the Labor Day Weekend working on commissions that all you awesome, generous people have asked for. I made a good dent in them but I've still got a line to go.

If you were following along on Twitter over the weekend, you saw me make jokes about having panels with (I hope!) clever titles like: Mopping the Floors: Cats & Dogs; Washing the Dishes: How Long Can They Sit In the Sink?; and You Should Get Up To Move Around.

You also saw pics of some of the works in progress. If you're of a mind to be on Facebook, there's an album of them (also in progress) on The Jason Arnett Narrative. There are only a couple that are completely finished so I'll be doing the detail work this week before I send them out. None of them are perfect in my eyes but that's the charm of them, I guess. The little imperfections, the slight corrections you might not notice in an artists' sketch are a bit more noticeable here but that's okay. I created this on the fly and I'm only human. But I gave you my best. I even slowed down on the whiskey. (Though maybe that would've helped a little more...)

What you may have missed is that my brother from another mother Ande Parks has generously donated a sketch to the cause. It's currently up to bid on here. Feel free to share the link far and wide.

So #housecon was a rousing success as far as I'm concerned. It was a magnificent weekend where I did get stuff done around the house but I also got to spend the entire time writing stories.

If you all are interested I'll share the process another time.

But a couple more thank yous need to go out here. My friends over at Kansas City Comic Con (hi, Justin!) put the word out on social media and I'm grateful for them taking the time to do that. It means a lot. I just don't have that kind of reach.

To everyone who retweeted or shared the link to my original post, you're all kinds of awesome. I really had no idea so many people cared. I got several messages of support and sympathy and I hope that I'm gracious in my replies because I'm overwhelmed. There's so much love out there and so many great people. I am doing my best and I keep pushing to get better. I hope that's okay.

Finally, I told my parents over the weekend what I was doing. To say they were floored by the response to that post is an understatement. You guys, what you've done is give them some peace and a little security. I can't tell you how important that really is, but I bet you know. That's why you've done what you did. And Mom and Dad are grateful to you all, too. We all cried with happiness at how cool you cats are.

As for how Mom is doing at the moment: she's holding steady. She feels like she has the energy to get up and walk around and do things but it's near impossible because she can't keep her balance. But she looks good, still looks like my Mom though she's too thin and she doesn't eat much at meals. Dad is keeping the house running but also occupying himself with projects like installing new kitchen cabinets he's designed and built that Mom asked for over the last few years.

Their anniversary is this coming Sunday, the 11th. They'll be celebrating 49 years of actually being married but also more than 50 years of being together. I think she's strong enough she'll get there, especially with the love that's come from all of you.

Thanks for letting me be a little maudlin here. Thanks for your kindness and generosity and for spreading the word. You're all awesome humans. You can tell anyone I said so.

I'll continue to take commissions for the time being. Every little bit helps. See the original post for a convenient button to order one.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Heart Is Full


You guys. YOU GUYS are AWESOME.

If you're just joining us, I'm taking commissions to raise money for my parents' medical bills. All the details are HERE.

I'm taking a moment before diving into working on Velocity Stories tonight to say thank you for the outpouring of support these last three days. You've given me commissions to keep me busy when it would be so easy to give in to grief and despair; you've shown me there is a shared community between comics and prose; you've humbled me with so many kind words and your sharing of my last post.

As I write this over 1400 people have visited to read about my parents and how I'm hoping to help them. People I've never met and who had never heard of me have written to commission stories from me. I'm going to be busy for quite a while as a result.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all.

Without going all mushy on you, these folks have my eternal gratitude:

R.L. Naquin, Rob Schamberger and John Holloway jumped right in and boosted the signal. They're all good friends and have said nice things about what I'm doing. So has Dayton Ward, a friend and one of my table-mates at local comic cons, who also wrote nice things. All of them are responsible for commissions coming my way, and interesting ones at that.

I would be remiss to not mention the social media staff of Planet Comicon and Kirk Chritton in particular. They boosted the signal an awful lot today by spreading the word across every platform they're on. This is huge and I'm much obliged to them for doing it. I will be there next April, for sure.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has bought a story or reached out both privately and through social media. This is not about me; it's about making sure that the people who raised me to have an interest and be active in the arts are reaching some level of comfort they don't currently have. I will keep taking commissions as long as I can, as long as you all will wait for me to get them out to you.

If you would like to help them by commissioning a story, there's a convenient button below. I will email you back to tell you how long it will take but it could be up to two weeks.

Anything helps, especially letting others know. There are so many wonderful humans in the world and you're one of them.

Tell me your prompt: