In which I put on my Talent Wrangler hat

I came home from my vacation trip relaxed, confident, and ready to tackle all the work ahead of me. Then I stood in the kitchen with Howard, one of our many quick meetings where we discuss business and schedule, and I realized that he hadn’t been on vacation. He was not feeling ready and excited for new challenges. He was feeling buried under work. That was the moment when I dusted off my Talent Wrangler hat and declared it the most important hat I own for the month of February.

We really need the next Schlock book (Resident Mad Scientist, or RMS) to be ready for print by the end of February. For that to happen, Howard needs to script and draw the bonus story, create margin art, and put together a cover. That is a huge amount of work, especially when we add in the work necessary to keep the comic updating regularly. Howard can do it, but only if he has my active support.

There is a difference between active support and passive support. Passive support says “Good idea honey. You should do that.” Active support says “How can I help you? Let me manage this boring bit.” Passive support is when I listen to Howard talk about his schedule for the day, but I don’t really track it because I am tracking my schedule instead. Active support is when I hear his proposed schedule and then shape my day so that his work flow is uninterrupted. Passive support is sometimes the correct response, It has been for us for a long time, but the time has come for me to switch over to active.

I informed Howard of my decision this morning. I told him that I intended to function as a Talent Wrangler for him. He agreed that was a good idea.

The title “Talent Wrangler” is one I’ve often heard applied to the Guest Liaisons for conventions. The job of the Talent Wrangler is to make sure that the special guests are where they need to be on schedule. The Wrangler makes sure that the guests get breaks and food at appropriate intervals. If the guest gets stressed or nervous, it is the Wrangler’s job to be soothing and to solve the problems. It is a lot of work to be a Talent Wrangler, particularly since the Wrangler is also supposed to be as unobtrusive as possible.

The risk of me taking on an active Talent Wrangler role for Howard this month is that I could turn into the ultimate nag. He can’t easily hide from me, and I don’t want him to. So I must find a careful balance between the role of Wife, who must sympathize and love no matter what, and the Talent Wrangler whose primary goal is to prod the artist to high productivity. If I am doing my Talent Wrangling right, then Howard will only be aware that work is being easier and more energizing.

I really feel like we can get this mountain of work done on schedule. February is going to be a good month.