Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Month of Dire Wraiths

The month of May was a body-blow almost from beginning to end, the kind of month that, in literature, the gods like to throw at humans for no other reason that to test their resilience. Is it over now? I suspect not. The gods never seem to get tired of dishing out crap.

The month started and ended with deaths in the family. Just after midnight of the 31st, teetering from May into June, my cousin Salle was finally brought down by her heart. As deaths go, I guess you can say that hers was “inspiring;” in September of last year, she suffered a heart attack that nearly killed her and indeed put her on notice that little time likely remained. Post-“recovery,” she used the following months to do things that she’d always wanted to do, including marry her longtime boyfriend. The day after her wedding, she went into hospital again and never came out.

I was always, always closer to the cousins on my mother’s side of the family, and although I haven’t seen Salle since the early ‘90s (don’t ever kid yourself, when you move away from family and friends to another part of the country, that it makes little difference and that things will go on unchanged) she and her family were always the ones I missed the most. Now the trees in that forest have started to fall. With so much death in the family, including my old friend Howard, in 2014 it begins to seem that the gods are developing a scorched-earth policy.

In May I marked the fourth anniversary of my mother's death. Still wondering if I'll ever stop crying over that. I am currently the only person in my immediate family, and the only person on my mother’s side of the family, who has not yet suffered a heart attack or stroke. I’m just waiting for the blade to fall. On my father’s side of the family there is alcoholism, and I’ve added to that legacy. All things considered, it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t reproduced myself (and now, never will).

In the middle of the month there was MeCAF. the Maine Comics Artists Festival in Portland. My emotions were running high about that well in advance; I felt like I had an awful lot riding on it. Everything, in fact. After all, if you can’t sell comics (and to a lesser extent fantasy novels) to a room full of people who paid money to get into a Comics Festival, then who can you sell ‘em to?

It was another kick in the teeth. The event runner put my friend DP and I at a table well in the far back corner, really the second or third worst table in the place. By the time people got to me, their senses were so over-stimulated (never have I seen such a large room filled with so many Really Talented people -- all vying for attention -- little did I know that Maine was such a hotbed of comics talent) that they walked straight past me with their eyes glazed over. A pitiful few gave my wares a sideways glance, and nothing more. I can count on one hand (with room left over) the number of interactions I had that day — not sales, just interactions — and even those were discouraging. As an example, one boxy-shaped woman looked at my tarot decks. She was obviously intrigued, but was much more interested in copping an attitude: her whole body language screamed out, “Well, I’m looking, but don’t for one instant imagine that I think your stuff is actually any good.” I mentioned to her that I was working on the full deck — at that time nineteen cards away from completion — and she threw her head back and to the side and said, in the most condescending tone that you can imagine, “Well, I’d be INTERESTED in THAT.”

When people slap you in the face with words and condescension, it makes no less an impact on you than if they had physically struck you — and I was smacked several times that day. I was smacked down flat by the whole experience. I have not been made to feel so incompetent, so without personal worth, so useless, since I worked for the insufferable bitch who manages the Colby College Bookstore… and that harridan was a good part of the reason why I drank so heavily and often showed up for work with the world spinning around my head. She made me feel so worthless that I couldn’t face the workday any other way.

I reacted badly to the blow of MeCAF, crawled into the bottle and stayed there for several days. But I’ve been sober for long enough now that my body has adjusted to sobriety, or something — living drunk is no longer sustainable for me. Unfortunately, drink doesn’t solve any problems, and upon sobering up I had to face the fact that I’m not going to be able to survive on the work that I’m doing.

And so now I am working exclusively on the tarot deck. It’s the only project I have that has produced any kind of results, elicited any kind of interest, caused anyone to even look twice at Something I Made. It needs to be my focus now, because I need to start paying some bills — and, notwithstanding rude fat middle-aged women who have nothing better to do with themselves than to knock other people down, the deck is the only thing I’ve got that has even come close to helping me do that.

So… all that’s why you haven’t seen or heard much from me lately. That’s about to change — I’m about to launch the Kickstarter project to fund the publication of the complete Tarot Deck — and who knows what will happen then? I’ve done, as always, the best work that I’m capable of doing, and now all I can do is put it out there and cross my fingers. This was not an easy post to write, but I needed to do it. And now back to work: I have six more cards to go, and then the deck will be done.

— Freder. 

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