Today is very much the sort of day when I'm reminded of a bleak truth. I have a career not because of how I write when I want to write, but how you write when I don't.
This one nearly broke us. It's one of the ones people will talk about. Hope you find it interesting.
We didn't release a preview for it (as it would kind of break it) but you can buy it from shops or digitally.
Also, Issue 14 of Cinema Purgatorio appears on the shelves, where in Modded, I somehow turn a critique of early-00s Sega comedy-agitprop organ UK Resistance's take on Outrun into an action comic. I totally get paid to do this. It should be in the shops, or available digitially.
Sheffield Gothic's Re-imagining The Gothic: Aesthetics & Archetypes conference keynotes were announced this week. I'm doing one of them. Will I use the Mountain Goats' Goths LP as a backbone? I will work it out. More details of the conference here, go nose on twitter, but it'll be from 26th to 28th of October.
The winner of this year's Creators for Creators was announced, which was Desvito who's working on David's Gate, which he's started here. The finalists I saw were amazing, but the thing about Desvito isn't just the quality of his craft, or the mood he captures but the actual expanse of what he wants to do with the genre. I can't wait to see more.
Bill & Ted 3 was announced this week, which is one of the trio of teenage movies that got under my skin in unusual ways. Here's Seb Patrick's article on the series, which is excellent, though does have the strange belief that the sequel is superior to the original. It's the Alien vs Aliens for quasi-metalhead speak.
In passing, I only actually got one of those core jokes of the series a few years ago. They're travelling through time and space in a phone booth. That should ring a bell, right?
I did an experimental panel on writing at London's Orbital last Saturday, which I was hoping to write a little about in this newsletter, but due to the week falling to pieces I need to put it on the back boiler. In short: it did the best what a real experiment should do, which is to do what I hoped it would while also teaching me something about the process. I actually did a quick 10 minute interview beforehand on the topic, if you want a taste. And if I don't get back to writing about it next week, thanks for Mink and Dan for helping me with it too.
Around 9:30, our cat Lemon had an heart attack. We went straight to the vet, but we could tell it was serious, and we feared the worst. Within the hour, she was gone. We think she was around six years old, but we can't be sure.
Lemon was found by one of C's friends beneath a car in Norwich, shivering and clearly petrified. Lemon followed the friend home, but she wasn't allowed pets. C was visiting, fell in love, and brought her home. We took her to the vet, to try and work out anything about her. She had neither ID or chip, so we took her in and named her after Tina Fey's character in 30 rock. The vet guessed her age by the state of her teeth – about a year.
The vet also found that she had a serious heart defect. She'd have to be on pills for life. She was – to quote the memorable literature – a candidate for sudden death.
In other words, Lemon going wasn't a surprise, but it was sudden. You know it's likely going to happen, but you don't think it'll happen tonight, except across a long enough time frame it does.
Lemon was a miniscule Tortie. As she's our cat we don't really realise how small she is until we visited my brother, and their leggy cats made Lemon look like a dachshund. In the land of the feline elves, she was a hobbit.
Lemon was also nervous. To begin with, as often as not, she ran when I entered the room. Even after years, she disliked my perpetual stomp. Yet even early on, if you were still, she would come to you, and share herself with you as much as she was able. The fear is there, but she also was interested in people, wanted to like them, wanted to be petted. They pushed and pulled her. I always took it as a good omen when Lemon ate her pills from my hands. At the least it meant I wouldn't have to quietly pursue her around the house, encouraging her to eat. She was my tortoiseshell cat, crossing my path, one way or another.
Like Lemon's size, it was only the trip to my brother and his giant cats that made me really see how nervous Lemon was. These other cats sprawled, and could be lifted, and got in the way of doors, and generally acted as if they had never known fear in their lives. Because they hadn't.
Lemon is what happens when you take an animal as a kitten, and abandon it in the rain. She was clownish and loved to play, and made me happy, but there was often moments when I looked at her and thought of her in distress and wanted to scream.
We took Lemon in during the year leading up to starting The Wicked + the Divine. She was my cat role model for Sakhmet, watching how she acted at various stages of her life. Anything catlike and funny in Sakhmet came from Lemon, and I suspect much that was sad too. I was relieved when she lived longer than Sakhmet in the comics. The part of me which smarts over Bowie and Prince would been irrationally distressed if she died at the same time as Sakhmet did. When she didn't, I hoped that she would outlive WicDIv. If she had, I would have found another date to hope for, because that's what we do.
She was a nervous cat, but that only made me admire her more, made me think each touch precious, made me think how brave she was to even trust at all. She reminded me that the nervous are the most brave, because each and every act requires bravery.
The cable of my headphones is stretched to my left, swinging in the light, The movement keeps making me start, making me think Lemon has crept up, and is trying to get my attention, deigning to sit in my lap and disrupt my writing awhile, and I'd playfully complain to her while be grateful for her gift. Lemon was a gift, and I was grateful.
It's brutal this week. The deadlines alone would be enough, but there's also a bunch of personal commitments which all add up. I've been playing triage, working out which of the many demands are actually essential, without sacrificing the work or my loved ones. This just-what-I-need-to newsletter is an example of the sort of thinking, and also says a little how I conceive of "Need."
Oddly, one of the things I've been writing may be with you at some point next week, all being well. If it is, I'll tell you then. If not, it can wait. It's been interesting.