When Something Ends

Today I got word that my run with Barbarella — third series, five issues — will end after issue five. This doesn’t mean the character will end; they’ll likely bring someone in to do the next series.

This is bad news of course, in the sense that it is $1600 a month I can’t count on. (It’s work for hire, yes) though it was never every month, anyway, as there’s an hiatus between series.

The thing though is that I don’t necessarily NEED it at this point.

It — let’s be honest — came out of nowhere as I was broke and depressed and working on moving away from the city and state where I thought I’d be living the rest of my life.

It was a safety net, and a life saver, because at that point I was barely writing, and putting out a 40k word short novel a year was almost herculean effort, not to mention things that were sitting around, like Darkship Thieves, which I couldn’t put up, even though the rights had reverted.

Having moved — even if I still mourn my lost mountain home — I’m healthier, have put up the back list and am writing again, though not as regularly or fast as I’d like because… it’s a process. I’m still recovering from deep damage inflicted from living at high altitude, without realizing that was the problem.

So, why is it ending? As always with traditional publishing, a little their fault — who in heaven’s name decided to list this series as erotica, when I’m not even allowed to show breasts, let alone anything else. It’s at best titillating (eh) flirtation and kissing — and a little my fault — in this case really. Also kudos to my editor for not saying it’s my fault, which in books they would — because I’ve been turning to my own work, and I feel that the writing didn’t have the “zing” of the first series. Though part of it was changing artists, since I’d practically achieved mind-meld with the first artist.

There is some sadness, of course. It’s been a blast working on Barbarella, and my editor, Matt Idelson is probably the best editor I’ve worked with in my entire professional life.

On the other hand, let’s be real: If I could pick any comic to work on, it would be ducks and mice. Because my head is broken that way. And having the Libertarian chick who often forgets to have her characters kiss, let alone jump into bed work on the sex pot was always a bit… odd?

Again, I’ll be fine. I have a schedule, which I’m totally blowing, and which calls for my complete absorption in my current series and some new ones. If I do even half of those, I’ll more than compensate for the income.

In a way it’s an end, and a beginning, I’m turning to some stories that have waited a long time to be written, and running with those. And having learned the visual way of story telling means there will be a kickstarter or indiegogo (not sure which yet) with an artist friend for a hard cover graphic novel of A Few Good Men. Probably by the end of the year.

I’m blowing the schedule, and this is ridiculously late, because in the way of my life, which is — has to be — a literary novel, there’s a sh*tton of resonance of things coming to an end.

Before all of you go “Whoa–” no, I’m not getting divorced. That wouldn’t be things coming to an end, that would be being sliced in half, and I’d probably die.

But there’s a lot of situations coming to an end. One is younger son finally launching, and being in a stable relationship, and starting to establish HIS pattern in life.

Like with the Barbarella thing, it’s an end… and a beginning. His beginning.

If the current situation holds, he’ll be able to return to work on the novel series we’d started writing together, and which some of you heard us read at Liberty Con. If — knocks on head — everything works out, we’ll be doing one of those every 3 months starting this summer.

Ends and beginnings. Or sometimes just ends. I write this after not sleeping at all because Dan isn’t here, having flown across the country to be with his dad, who is dying.

This is not unexpected. He’s been in hospice care since November. Which has been part of the very weird funk that’s delaying everything.

A beginning, in a way. Not perhaps the best way.

We’re both late-born children for our generation — about normal for the generation being born now — being the parents of children in their thirties when we were born.

So as we enter sixty, we start seeing that generation disappear — I always loved the phrase “slept with his fathers” because once someone dies (my cousin 9 years older who looked like a blond blue eyed me died of breast cancer last year and this was very obvious and stark) they’re one with the multitudes that went before us. Like that, the time is erased. One with Shakespeare and Milton, and yes, Abraham, possibly — and we step up, into the patriarch and matriarch role.

This is very difficult for some of us, as childbearing has gotten more and more delayed, till most of us don’t have grandchildren at an age people used to have great grandchildren started. Being a patriarch without a tribe is difficult.

But science fiction has always — bizarrely — has a role for the old, the ones who came before. Still does, absent the traditional publishing only mavens, who frankly have gone more than a bit insane. Trad pub in sf/f has gone to Diyu, just as worldcon has gone to shengdu.

It’s bizarre to find myself treated with reverence as the matriarch of the kids starting now, particularly the ones trying out things in indie, who are so much more adept at all of it than I.

And my jaw practically drops when I hear that someone grew up — GREW UP — reading me, and what a great inspiration I was. The WHAT?

With the compression of careers that go along with the postponement of child bearing, you’re a kid in your field well into your forties, and then you blink and you’re the old man or woman of in the cave, with the knowledge of how to knap flint, and them damn kids, even though they’re doing bronze and what not now, will come and sit at your feet and expect the lore and the stories of how you met their now dead idols at a con. And did you really get drunk and party with so and so?

For the record, being a geek cheek who often forgets she has a body and who was profoundly married when she broke in, I never partied with anyone. And getting drunk is difficult when you have Portuguese ancestry.

The worst thing I did was, while extremely tired, pour a beer down the front of my then agent’s suit. (Not on purpose. I forgot I had it in my hand and gestured.) No, I’m not giving you the name, though if you pm me, I’ll whisper it in your shell-like ear. It wsa completely deserved.

But you know, I thought I’d lost my chance at “old woman of the tribe” when I got dumped from Baen. But you know what? Apparently not. And the indie ways of doing things have been good to me.

My dad, in a poem he wrote at 75, and which I need to translate for the kids, but keep shutting down on doing, because I … I’m not there yet, but it’s starting to rhyme, said “The old are forgotten and only brought out for feasts on their birthdays.”

Not in our field. In his old age, Jerry Pournelle told me he was making the best living he ever had, from his back list in indie.

It’s looking like that to me.

Ends and beginnings.

When something ends it hurts. I’m mourning several ends, and it’s important to acknowledge it happens, and it has a hit on the body, on cognition. The light is a little dimmer, the air a little colder, and your view a little bleaker.

But the only cure for it is to….

Begin again. And again. And Again.

Let’s start.

37 thoughts on “When Something Ends

  1. Part of a beginning again for you is asleep on my desk right now. He just stretched in the cat bed and made an adorable noise I can’t possibly translate. But he and his sister should be well-trained in writer companionship things by the time you pick them up. Also, there will be Shenanigans, because kittens.

    1. I’ve been doing “back in my day” career lectures for a couple of decades now, but the tech industry customs change more quickly and have more specialized roots.

      Just as the things you read when you were young haven’t aged a bit in your personal recollection, neither have their authors, whether you knew them or not. I’m startled to find myself not that far apart in age from some of the people I was reading hard many years ago, since I started writing on the late side while they were younger in their careers.

      There’s a cure for this… I’m now singing with a local Barbershop chorus (I’ve always been a tenor), and the average age is… considerably advanced. A significant number of the lovely gents are in their 80s, and still going strong (at least as singers). Be the only woman in a traditional men’s group and banter with them like the 60s never stopped — it’s a sure cure for not taking your own age seriously.

      So don’t worry about endings. There’s plenty of time for more beginnings.

      1. It’s a lot more of a shock for an author die when I picked up his work as an adult than when I was a child, even though that impose very few constraints on their ages.

  2. Ends mean something more when you’ve got so much history bound up in the middle bits. That’s getting old for ya. Or the mileage, one of the two.

    Me, I just want to survive long enough to get the stories written, and maybe (definitely) read a lot more. The other stuff’s just fiddly bits. Important fiddly bits, sure, but priorities. Feed the cats. Train the n00bs. Maintain the life as long as is practical.

    And write like a madman when possible.

  3. Ducks and mice. Does that mean you would enjoy a stint writing Howard the Duck stories?

      1. If you ever do get to do Mickey, my wife will be one of the first to purchase it. Her priorities are: Teaching -> Mickey Mouse -> Me -> Little Britches -> her parents.

      2. How do you feel about Disney starting to ban old Don Rosa Uncle $crooge stories? (And if Rosa makes Current Year Disney freak out, wait ‘til they get to Barks and Gottfredson!)

        1. Well, this year for Christmas my kids are getting the OLD Don Rosa and Carl Barks, complete collections. Yes, my kids are 31 and 28, but they loved them in childhood, and I want them for their kids. THE OLD UNEDITED ONES.
          Does that answer your question?

  4. When I gave up on academia it hurt a little. When I ended the main-stream of the Familiars series it hurt a little. I miss the academic discussions, the thrill of the hunt in the archives, the excitement of learning at conferences and over coffee or meals with other full-time historians. But . . . that world doesn’t really exist any more. I miss Central Europe from before August 2015. That world is shattered and gone.

    And I second you on suddenly being the experienced mentor. Me? But I just started, um, in 2012? Blogging since 2014? That’s yesterday, right?

  5. Paused reading Life, t’-WHF at the link leading here.

    For some reason the early life lesson, keeps coming to mind, that I learned at my father knee (& across my mother’s knee, her, with the genteel lady’s multi tool {hairbrush} in hand swung forcefully), that I dutifully passed along to my children and to my savage teenage granddaughter; Nobody promised you fair!

    Oddly, from here looking back, I see such as a blessing, not a curse. It isn’t fair meant, means, as I look back reminiscing, work harder, do things better.

    Now, back to Life & WTF.

  6. Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Those stages offer different sweetnesses and challenges.

    Remember the sweetness.

  7. I understand the challenges, as I am in a similar situation. Retired (semi) from medicine, saw my parents and aunt through hospice with three deaths in less than a year. Getting ready to move out of California (hooray!) and trying to write mysteries. I keep telling myself that change is good, but I have learned that it requires stability, support from friends and family and determination. I think the best thing about modern society is that aging is no longer considered a dead end. We can do what we want, and as much as we want – as long as we’re willing to work at it.

  8. My personal life has been interesting the last few years. As several of my friends and family have remarked, “Do you guys ever get a break?” The answer is, of course, “No.” I just keep reminding myself that I just have to keep moving forward.

    1. I’ve worried about you too. You were my only consistent blog commenter… come back! But, seriously, I keep praying that life takes a good turn for you.

      1. Thanks. As things slow down a bit I’ll come back more. It’s just hard to find time now. This is the first week in over two months that I’ve actually put in 40 hrs.

  9. Interestingly, went to WonderCon over the weekend, and Barbara Randall Kesel said that the (in)famous Hero’s Journey is a story arc for men, and that women have a different story arc. I had to track her down later to get the scoop from her. Her version of a Woman’s Journey is:

    Warrior Woman
    Wise Woman

    So welcome to stage 3 Sarah!

    Was my first time at WonderCon, and it was lots of fun. It reminded me of ComicCon before it became a Yogi Berra joke (“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”) I always go to writer’s panels because I know better than to think I know everything, although sometimes I wish I were on the panel.

    I passed out a lot of flyers for Son of SilverCon although bizarrely they wouldn’t let me put them on the freebee table (Because the freebee table was only for vendors and pros? Huh?) I should have lied and told them I was an official rep for the Con. Actually I did, but it was too late. I’d already asked the question about where the freebee table was. I should know better than to ask questions.

    1. In 2016, except for pending contracts.
      No, I never understood why. Still don’t. I didn’t even get short story invites for years.
      Shrug. it is what it is.

    1. Mind, you I think it’s good, and by issue 4 it was great. But it wasn’t very barbare-ly. She didn’t sleep around much, etc. which might have caused lower sales.

  10. Late bloomer… my high school counselor (total jerk) said that about me my senior year. But now I wonder if he was on to something. I started Academic Magic at the end of my 2018 sabbatical, left academia right after publishing it two years later. Got three of those books done, now I’m beginning (see what I did there?) a new cozy paranormal mystery series. Like a lot of others have said I’m planning on this carrying me through old age.

    My cousin and I joke that our family should be very afraid as she and I are now the matriarchs of the clan. Our mothers (they were sisters) died within six months of each other about seven years ago. It’s a weird feeling.

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