3 1/2 years and a book later.

On finishing the book 

It's been 3 1/2 years, somehow, and a book later now. I'm finishing the book I started either the moment it happened (notes and desperate scratching) or April 2012 (drawing).

A few weeks ago, when I first handed the finished draft in, I found myself doing odd things. Immediately, with no prior forethought, I changed the image on my laptop's startup screen. From a grim one to an almost serene one. I never thought I would need to lose the grim one, but more importantly, I thought if I were to change it, it would be later- eventually. Instead, it was near immediate; I was stricken to do it.

And then my bike went down streets I hadn't been on since with Rosalie. Just a little bit, but I hadn't expected that so suddenly either. Down to the grocery store from the north, parking locking up on the north rack, instead of the south, the only one I've used for 3 1/2 years. These sudden changes.

And I told my friend John that I wanted to work on the book forever, I didn't want it to be done, but when I finished, instantly I felt relieved. There were and are still minor edits of course, but I think I am eager to say it is behind me.

I've said the book was an attempt to re-live the 5 weeks after the event. The 5 weeks which had a mythic, healing quality. 5 weeks which were raw and horrible, but a time when the signs of future healing were almost battering me.

3 1/2 years to relive 5 weeks.

In those years, the attempt to relive was largely through the act of drawing and writing, in that order. The writing was the organizing principle, but the drawing was the reliving. Relive the pain and the rawness, the fear. But also the help, the nourishment, the stories. The avocados, the borrowed cars, the phone calls, the butterflies, the beaches,

If I was to serve the story the best way, I would spend another 3 1/2 years and make every drawing right. Fully inhabit each drawing so completely that the energetic force of the drawing matches the force of the emotion first lived. But since my skills are what they are, the book is what it is.

An interviewer asked me if certain drawings stood out. I'm not sure if I'm remembering his question right, or what his exact purpose was in asking, but I called out this image to the right. I feel like thin wood in this panel, as if I might break apart any moment. This one is right.

And interestingly, it might never have happened had my friend Sascha (hi Sascha) sent me a picture of a mummy in a different exchange. That mummy, a propped husk, felt like me.

In scrolling through the book, I managed to find a total of nine that aren't bad. (Posted on Tumblr.)

Molly Rose

Darling Molly Rose, Rosalie's younger sister arrived 20 months ago, 21 months after we said goodbye to Rosalie. She's the age now Rosalie was when we moved from New York to Gainesville. All these symmetries.

In July she'll be older than Rosalie ever was.

All these weird dualities.

I've been a parent for 6 years but of no child older than 2. I have one daughter and I have two. I will have one baby and no baby soon, as Molly Rose becomes a little girl.

I remember Rosalie and I can't remember Rosalie. Or I can't remember her with the same force I once did. Her sister is the force on this plane, and this is the plane I'm confronted with, day after day. My memories of Rosalie are resettling into the ethereal plane, the plane of spirit. She is here but she's not here.

I told the same interviewer I had a responsibility to Rosalie's memory, to make this book the best it can be. And a responsibility to myself to do what seemed right to heal. (Healing- talking with Leela about this. We seem to agree it just means returning to some functionality.) Did I have a responsibility to readers too? I know that the points and events I held back from telling were for my own well-being, and I don't think they serve Rosalie's memory either.

I hope this journey, this reliving, will honor her memory. I hope she will see it -from whatever vantage point- as a way of becoming close to her -wherever she is- again.


Ryan Claytor said…

Speaking for the Michigan comics community, it was our pleasure to have you as our Keynote Speaker this past February at the 2015 Michigan State University Comics Forum. Speaking from personal experience, I feel lucky to have been in a position to share a weekend-worth of entertaining, thoughtful, frank, and poignant conversations with you.

Thank you for sharing insights into your creative process, your history in the comics medium, and revealing such intimate moments that reminded us all about the importance of those closest to us.

MSU is anxiously awaiting the publication of this important new work.

Go Daddy Lightning. Rosalie is surely proud.

Ryan Claytor
Maggie said…
Congratulations on finishing the book, Tom! I can't wait to read it and am glad that finishing it has been a relief to you <3

Much love,
John Glynn said…
Congrats, Tom.
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