Often I write these blog entries about things I'm working on or experiences that I've had since undertaking this comic book making journey. Sometimes I throw in an interview or two (and if you haven't read them, please go back in the archives and check them out, there's quite a few cool people that I've had the chance to talk to) to shake things up or just rant about something that I feel I should talk about for whatever reason.
This is one of those.
One of the most over-looked aspects of any creative endeavour is the support that the creative person (in this case we're talking me, the writer) has as they toil away at their craft.
Man, that sounded fancy, didn't it?
The fact is, while I've got my head buried in research books, online doing an interview, prepping files for the books or staring at my laptop's blank screen for hours on end (aka writing), someone needs to make sure that I'm not neglecting the basic day to day things (such as eating or going to bed at a decent time) because it's incredibly easy to get lost in what you're doing.
Writing, to me anyhow, is a drug and when I get really into it, I don't want to do anything BUT write. I fall into my fictional world and everything in the "real" world is an unwanted distraction from the story that I'm trying to tell.
Now this isn't true of ALL creative people, I should make that clear. For most that I know of though, it has at least a kernel of truth.
So what happens while we're lost in these worlds? Who takes care of things like making sure the household bills are paid on time as we're trying to figure out the history of our fictional world? Or reminds us that we're awesome and WILL finally figure out a way to get our protagonist out of the corner that we've written them into?
Well if you're one of those lucky people, like myself, you have a Cassandra.
This is essentially my long-winded way (surprise! whoever thought I'd be like that?) of saying that without my wonderful lady, there is no way ANY of this would exist. No, I'm not saying she actually writes the stuff and I just slap my name on it (boy would that save some late nights fretting over scripts!) but without her I wouldn't be able to get this done. Or even would have started writing again.
I first met Cassandra back when I had picked up a part time gas jockey job to help out my buddy David who was running the place. He hadn't been able to find anyone reliable and had asked me to work even just two shifts a week. Begrudgingly I accepted. I didn't need the money, nor did I really want to do the job, but he gave me my pick of shifts and, at the end of the day, I was helping out a friend.
I took the closing shifts on Sunday and Monday nights, spending the weekends with my kids was more important and during the middle of the week was hardly ideal considering I had an early starting day job. It was on those shifts that I first met Cass.
We hit it off right away and found that one thing we had in common was a love of comic books, the 90s X-Men cartoon being her introduction to her two favorite characters- Gambit and Rogue. To this day they are still her favorite characters, as the many statues, pieces of art and t-shirts will attest to.
Another co-worker of ours, Mike, had discovered that I used to write/work on my own comic book universe and between the two of them, they convinced me that I should start it up again. I had never published anything with my comic universe, despite having begun work on it over ten years before taking that job. I used those shifts to get back into it and, what started off as picking away at ideas, quickly turned into an avalanche of characters and ideas, all fueled and pushed ahead by the people I worked with, particularly my own personal cheerleader, Cassandra.
Several times over she would deal with a customer and tell me to just keep writing when I was in the midst of an idea- essentially doing the job I was paid to be doing so that I could work on something that, at the time, I never thought would exist beyond the walls of the gas bar and my own brain. Having completed my eighth comic book story (with 6 officially out there and published) I can happily say that I was wrong. I never believed in it, or really, myself, but SHE did.
Perhaps if she had known what the odds were of finding artists to work with, the money involved in hiring them and printing a book, and having any sort of success as an independently published writer... She might have encouraged me to get that next customer instead. Or to buy a lottery ticket.
Knowing her, however, she would have told me to do it anyhow- her belief in myself and my stories borders on... Well let's just say she's my number one fan. Which in itself would be enough of a reason to thank her, but that's just where it starts.
Along the way we started dating, and nearly five years later, things are still going strong and we've finally moved in together just a few months ago. I can only imagine what she thought living with me would have been like... I'm sure that she never realized that being a self-published comic book creator, that I'd be on-call/working more or less 24-7. That my phone would be going off with emails and messages all day and night and that the financial cost of producing as many books as S17 is would have an impact on vacations together and the like. Vacation time is another thing, as the two weeks I get from my day job are centered around comic cons and other writing events.
Speaking of cons... Last year at the C4 Comic Con, Cass was an invaluable asset for not only myself, but writing friend AP Fuchs and Canadian Corps artist, Justin Shauf. She watched the tables when we needed to take a bathroom break or just to get away. She made regular food runs so that we didn't have to starve or eat the over-priced and less than stellar convention food. She chatted up customers and made the entire process a thousand times easier than it could have been. Without getting paid a dime. Though, to be fair, I did buy her a few things as a way of saying thank you. Hardly sufficient to make up for everything she did though. She checked us in to the hotel so that I could get a jump on setting up the table even.
And that kind of support happens every day. When I get home from the day job the first thing I do is fire up my laptop and address any emails that I wasn't able to get to during the day, and unusually as I'm doing that, she starts making supper. More often than not, by the time I'm done going through them, checking over art that's come in, etc., supper is ready and we eat together (usually while watching hockey- we ARE Canadian after all) and then sometime later I'll duck in the office to or fire up the laptop again to poke away at this story or that or to talk with a fellow writer about what we're working on (which is a always a great motivator).
The other night I got together and did a Google Hangout with some writing friends until after midnight- even though she was home from the time I got there, and only a room away, I saw her for maybe five minutes the whole evening. A less understanding and supportive person would have been miffed by being ignored for that long but, great supporter and person that she is, her first thought was to ask if I had as much fun as I thought I was going to have.
Of course I did.
Those are just some of the examples of how fantastic and invaluable Cassandra is to me and, if I were to list them all, I'd be writing this every day, 24-7, for the next few months. In other words, anytime you pick up an S17 book, keep in mind that there's no way you'd be reading it if it wasn't for her and everything she does.
My cheerleader, my friend, my love. Thank you for everything, Cass.