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February 2010
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Finding and Fixing

Howard sat on the couch and I lounged in the comfy chair across from him. We were having a meeting to figure out the shape of today. The original plan for the day had to be altered because Howard’s drawing hand is hurting. It is hurting a lot and therefore needs to rest. This rules out drawing, painting, playing video games, using a mouse, and typing. It didn’t take long to decide that he needs to go see a movie and then write up a review for the blog. It resembles productivity at least.

As we were talking over the things which are not an option for today, my eyes began to well up with tears.
“You’re crying.” Howard said. “Why are you crying?”
“I don’t know.” I answered. I didn’t know. But I suspected that it was the same reason I was feeling sad yesterday and the day before. The same reason that I’ve been doing a lot of reading and video game playing this week. The same reason I’ve had trouble finding the desire to write. Three days is enough, so I sat for a moment, digging to see if I could find an answer which explained the sadness. The search didn’t take long.

I am sad this week because I can’t fix it. “It” has many definitions, but there has been a lot of powerlessness. I can’t make Howard’s hand stop hurting. I can’t make him have to draw less. I can’t force my kids to make good decisions. I can’t do their homework for them. I can’t do anything today which will make money arrive today. I want to be able to fix it. I want Howard to be less stressed. I want to be less stressed. An essential part of that is the influx of money from the next book release.

Howard interrupted my list. “You do understand that most of the money we have is because of you? I made a fun comic, but you’re the one who did all the work to make it support us.”
“Some days I know that. Today it is hard to see.” I answer.

This makes me ponder why today is different from last week when I was filled with optimism and energy. The list has not changed at all. There are always things that I have limited influence over. There are always things that I can’t change or that I can only change very slowly. So I dug into my brain again.

Today, and this week, is different because we have reached the end of February and the book is not done. I understand why. I helped make all the choices and schedule adjustments. It will be done soon and everything will be fine, but it isn’t done today. And the part of me, which in January looked forward to being done today, has to grieve a little bit. Emotional processes can not be trumped or eliminated by logical processes. Which stinks. But there it is. Also affecting me is the lack of sleep I’ve been having due to extra early days paired with up-too-late nights.

On top of all that, I’ve been playing several rounds of Bad News, Good News with our tax accountant. I think we’re going to end the game on Good News which makes everyone glad. It turns out that when you use income to buy inventory, that inventory still counts as business growth. If you then (thoughtlessly) record royalties as part of inventory cost, it looks like your inventory is twice as valuable as it really is. Which then makes you look like you made lots more money. Which leads to large tax bills. Also, when making boxed sets, it is important to deduct the books used for the sets from the inventory counts for the individual books. It is all sorted out now, but staring at a big bill instead of a small return made for a really unpleasant 24 hours. I figured it all out when I dragged myself out to the storage unit to physically count all the books and do some math.

So maybe I’m due some emotional aftermath. It still feels silly for me to be sitting inside my comfortable house, surrounded by amazing things, across from the wonderful man I married, and be feeling sad.

Howard moved over to where he could give me a hug. “This is a good place.”

Yes it is. Our home is a good place. My marriage is a good place. Our family is a good place. Our creative business is a good place. All of these things are good because of the work I’ve done to make them so. I’m not alone in this work by a long shot, but I am essential in all of it. Building these things has taken years of slow, often invisible, effort. And so my tears dry up because the things over which I have no power will be gone shortly. My power is in the long haul not the quick fix.

2 comments to Finding and Fixing

  • Hi there. My husband, Gideon, mentioned you to me today after coming home from AML. I have visited your blog before when Kathy Cowley suggested I come.

    I enjoyed your thoughts about wanting to fix things. I get in that place sometimes too. You have a “good place”, and that is nice.

  • Welcome. Glad to have you here.