The past two years

Two years ago today: Kiki was 9, Link was 7, Gleek was 3, Patches was 1, we had just sunk money into having a bathroom finished, we had enough money in savings to pay three months of bills, cartooning had netted $-600 for the year, and Howard cleaned out his Novell office never to return. What an insane week that was. Most of the stress can’t be found in my LJ entries of the time. We couldn’t say things in public until after they were announced at Novell and afterward there didn’t seem to be much point. I did write one entry. That entry completely fails to capture how incredibly sure I was that quitting was the right choice. I was sure right up until two years ago today when Howard came home with the contents of his office. Then I was terrified. I remember lying on the couch thinking about the kids and the house and all of the bills to be paid. The weight of those responsibilities was almost a physical sensation.

For the next year we never had enough money in hand to cover more than three months of bills. Sometimes we knew where the next chunk of money would come from, sometimes we didn’t. Any time I stopped to rationally look at our financial situation I was paralyzed by the fear that we would lose our dream, that Howard would have to go get a day job to make ends meet. So we couldn’t stop. We had to just keep walking and trusting that the path would appear before our feet. At the end of that year, one year ago today, I wrote another entry. That entry is more reflective of my actual mind state at the time it was written. So we continued walking and hoping that somehow we’d find a way to make cartooning work without charity or windfalls.

The release of Schlock Mercenary: Under New Management changed everything. We were at the very end of our money. If the book didn’t sell well enough, Howard would have to get a day job which might have heralded the end of cartooning. The book did sell well. For the first time in over a year we could see how hard work would bring in enough money. Since the launch of the book we can see the pathway ahead, not just for a few months, but for several years. Life will undoubtedly throw a few curves in the road, but we no longer take slow and fearful steps. Now we can run. Today I pause in my headlong jog toward the future, to muse on what an amazing journey we took step by careful step.

My two years ago self would have loved a peek into the future to see now. She would have been comforted to know that it would all work out. But then she already believed that it would, most of the time. But if two years ago I had seen the future, I would not have learned the same lessons. I would not have grown in the same ways. And possibly we would not have ended up in the same place. I am very glad for the past two years. I would not change them, even though they were very hard at the time.