catching up, part two

I‘ve been too busy to write about some cool things that I’ve
experienced, recently. I’m taking the next few hours to catch up . . .

Free Comic Book Day

In 2003, I took Ryan and Nolan to Free Comic Book Day at my local comic shop, Comics Factory in Pasadena (Colorado, just West of Hill, if you’re ever in the area). It’s a great shop, run by people who love comics and really take care of their customers.

FCBD is exactly what it sounds like: a day when you get to choose from a bunch of different comics — for free — at your friendly local comic shop. The idea is to get new people interested in reading comics and graphic novels, as well as convincing current readers to give a different book or genre a risk-free try. (Note to industry: how about Free Game Day?)

When I took the kids two years ago, they picked up a bunch of X-Men and Batman and stuff, and were really into comic books for about three weeks before losing interest and returning to Harry Potter (Ryan) and Reading Sucks (Nolan, who has grown into quite the reader in the last 1 months) I, on the other hand, picked up Fables, which is the coolest Vertigo title since Sandman, and found my love of comic books re-kindled. For most of a year, I went into the comic shop twice a month and picked up new books and read them all. I was terribly sad when I had to admit that I couldn’t justify the time and money invested, though, and I didn’t read much more than a few graphic novels for most of 2005.

So I have a pile of great books from Free Comic Book Day that I think
I’m going to read this afternoon, as soon as I finish my writing
commitments for today.

Uh-oh. Commence rambling:

I love to watch and read Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I love to play geeky games like Illuminati and Talisman and Frank’s Zoo. I love to read comic books, and I wish I had the time to paint 40K armies and go to gaming cons and comic cons and just be a total nerd. I want to go for a hike to Echo Mountain, and I want to go Geocaching. I wish I had time to go out to plays and hear live music and see midnight movies and take my family on trips to see things like Yellowstone and the Smithsonian, or just go to the beach and enjoy one of the reasons we still live in Southern California.

Somewhere in the last couple of years, I’ve allowed my sense of responsibility and my need to be a good father, husband, and provider completely overwhelm me. I’ve lost a sense of Balance in my life, and all those cool nerdy things that defined me for so much of my life are struggling to get up there and have the floor, too.

When I went to Free Comic Book Day this year, I felt a connection to some of the happiest days of my life, those days when I sat on the floor at Darin’s house and we read Sandman, and Killing Joke, and Dark Knight Returns together. The smell of paper and cardboard and books and that nerd-funk that can’t be described reminded me of all the hours I spent in game stores like The Last Grenadier, and the hours I spent at home reading Uncle Albert’s and rolling up GURPS characters, just because I could.

I fully realize that an adult with two kids and a mortgage can’t have the sort of time and freedom to goof off the way he did when he was a teenager, but I think there has to be some way, even as an adult, to find Balance, and give yourself permission to goof off from time to time. You know that saying, "We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing"? I grok.

Oh, which actually brings up another interesting observation: In On Writing, Stephen King says that you can’t expect to be a creative writer if you don’t make the time to read. All the really good poker players I know say a similar thing about playing cards: if you don’t make time to study your game, and talk with other players who you respect, you can’t expect to play your best game. The same thing goes for athletes; they say that Tony Gwynn and Ted Williams took more batting practice than anyone else on their teams, and Michael Jordan spent more time practicing free throws and anyone else on the Bulls. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

I wrote earlier today about not having time, and feeling like there isn’t enough time for things, and I think the conclusion I’ve reached from this already-too-long post is that we have to give ourselves permission to make time for the things we really want to do. In my case, I need to have full access to my creative brain. Fear is the enemy of creativity, and I have to just stop being afraid of not providing for my family enough, so, uh, I can write some creative things that will provide for us.

That segues nicely into part three, coming later.

16 thoughts on “catching up, part two”

  1. 1st Comment of the day :)
    Just remember you get to do some cool things like E3 show and Poker Tournaments ans a lot of things the average Joe doesn’t.
    As far as a vacation goes that comes down to basic economics. Trading one thing short term (comic books for example) over long term (vacation at end of year).
    We didnt go out of state this year, but might do something local like Disney which will be fun.

  2. Wil, I mentor kids who’s parents spend their time drunk or stoned in front of the TV or are always somehow in pursuit of their own self interest. I spend my time filling in for those parents. There is never enough time, but you spend as much as you can with your kids and your wife while still working hard on your responsibilities. You have nothing to regret. You sould be proud of yourself. It’s sad when kids have to turn to a 50 year old guy not even related to them to get the support they need. Your kids are very lucky, and so are you. Keep up the good work.

  3. Just in case you find some time to read the occasional graphic novel, Y the Last Man is a good complement to Fables and Sandman. And as a zombie fan you might like The Walking Dead. We’re also giving the new Warren Ellis flimsies, Black Gas, a try.
    You may already be aware of these, but I thought I’d share just in case. I like to hear what other people are reading when I find out they like some of the same things I do. It opens the door for so many possibilities.

  4. i love what you are saying here, because it is so easy to lose parts of what make you YOU when you are busy being other parts of you.
    happy mediums are often distracted by shiny objects; but if you dont take time for yourself, then you arent the best other stuff (Dad, Friend, Husband, Hot Guy With Groupies) you can be.
    this made sence in my head when i was thinking it, but it make have lost something in text…. hard to say :)

  5. Fear is, too often, an over-used tool in today’s litigious and paranoid society. It’s like the multi-million dollar settlements won by people who were traumatized by hot coffee spilled at McDonalds that contribute to this fear and paranoia. It’s these people who sue over spilt coffee (and especially the attorneys that motivate them to sue) that contributes to a society that is too afraid to sincerely express itself.
    Long live George Carlin!

  6. Fear is, too often, an over-used tool in today’s litigious and paranoid society. It’s like the multi-million dollar settlements won by people who were traumatized by hot coffee spilled at McDonalds that contribute to this fear and paranoia. It’s these people who sue over spilt coffee (and especially the attorneys that motivate them to sue) that contributes to a society that is too afraid to sincerely express itself.
    Long live George Carlin!

  7. “but I think there has to be some way, even as an adult, to find Balance, and give yourself permission to goof off from time to time”
    You aren’t married to my wife. Her motto is “There’s too much work to do to goof off.” Be thankful for any goof off time you can get your hands on.

  8. keep your head up, wil. I have felt that way many days over the past twenty years. I had kids young, gave up on writing and pursued my tech career full time.
    The payoff is awesome. Sure, I gave up some geeky fun and had to make due with ‘old’ tech, but now that my boys are growing up and heading off to college, I can see that it was all worth it.
    And I actually have even more time to spend with my wife, now. it’s worth the work. Sure, it’s a marathon, but you can’t give up in the middle.

  9. Believe me, I know how hard it is not to lose a part of yourself when you are trying to do so much for your family and others, but I know that you can do it.
    My family also loves scifi/fantasy books. Do you have a favorite author or book?? Just curious.

  10. I was just writing about something similar in my blog– how I’m a mom 48 weeks a year– 24/7, and when my 4 weeks off come, I’m at a loss of what to do with myself. I love to plan vacations, but I don’t take them, my drive (my parenting time) is on hold, and I don’t have the drive to even say yes and go do the things I used to love.
    Like reading “the Killing Joke!” Comics paid for my text books in college, and I say thank you to them for holding me over like that. Now, as an adult, I want to dabble in my loves again, and I’m starting to buy used books and reading them when I can, and slowly, I’m starting to see “Me” the woman rather than “Mom” the SuperMom.

  11. Let’s not forget, fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, hate leads to really bad prequels.
    Oh, and nowadays trade paperbacks have helped keep the irregular purchaser well entertained. Gotta love ’em! I often pass over a book or miniseries if I am sure it’ll be out in trade eventually, like most Ultimate titles (except Ultimate Spidey, I can’t wait for the trade ever!).

  12. Whenever I would get fed up with not having any time for myself and running the treadmills of everyday life my friend Donny would tell me “You have to do the hard work to make it easy.”
    My Dad is a guy who’s done nothing but work hard his entire life, rarely taking time out for himself, but recently has adopted a philosophy based on something Warren Zevon once said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”
    It may be easy to see those two statements conflicting, but I think somewhere inbetween is the balance we oft times seek between the hard work and the good times, because ultimately both are necessary things. I always find it helpful to remind myself of that.

  13. My nephew came to live with me last year. He tried to fit into our long running gaming group but we were so far along the gamer evolution that we were all for the role playing (over the roll-playing) so he didn’t fit in very well. Plus we’d been together for years and he couldn’t get very many of the literary (three of them teach college english or are writers) or inside jokes.
    So on his birthday one of the group gave him a “dungeon crawl” as a gift. Awhile later he ran the age old “Sunless Citadel” module for my nephew, several of the group (invited by him) and one of the other guy’s 11 year old son (my nephew had turned 15).
    It was such fun just gaming like that again that we decided to do it every month (Gamma World with the Savage Worlds rules is up next).
    Perhaps you can get back into a little bit of the groove with a weekly (or biweekly) gaming group. Or do a monthly dungeon crawl with Ryan, Nolan and a couple of your gaming pals.
    It might give you back enough of the old “things you loved when you were young” to satisfy, at least a touch.

  14. Oh, and to those who quote the McDonalds coffee case to illustrate the state of litigation in America, please provide a few specifics. The case in question is (I believe) that of Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, New Mexico and she only wanted to get back funds to defer her hospital costs but McDonalds refused. So she sued them. Details can be found at
    The Actual Facts About The Mcdonalds’ Coffee Case
    I don’t disagree with sentiment but consider the facts and pick a case which better illustrates the issue and your position.

  15. I just saw Neil Gaiman at the Sydney Writers’ Week Festival. He was asked quite a bit about his collaborative work and it so made me want to read Sandman (I know his novels best).
    On Writing is one of the best books on the writing process and what it means to be a writer that I’ve ever read.

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