Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018, or as we call it: Please don’t let this year suck as bad as 2017 did.
Chuck Wendig’s brilliant New Year’s post was titled “2017: The Year That Lasted Ten Years,” and I recommend you give it a read. I found myself nodding along.
2017 moved fast, it also trudged along so slowly that I wanted to put it out of it’s misery. Every day there was a new incident, something new to worry about, a new crisis, a new movement, another day of this thing being important, and this other thing being problematic. It was like that dog sitting in a burning building with a blithe smile saying, “This is fine.”
Everything is not fine. Everything won’t be fine for a while. But we can’t let it consume us. I actively stopped watching the news and reading the trending stories on Facebook. I glance at it just enough to be informed, and look away when I feel my anxiety building.
Meanwhile, in the creative world…
2017 was the year I didn’t have a single new release, and I had to come to terms with a lot of it. I had won Rainbow Awards in December of 2016 knowing that I wouldn’t set foot on the publishing stage for a very long time. And even so, it might be still a few years from now.
It wasn’t until the last few months of 2017, I honestly felt okay with my quiet retreat from the author world. Instead, I stepped forward as an artist, and revealing, “Oh, hey, yeah. I draw sometimes.” And it was the first time I actually got paid for my art after ten years of giving it up.
I found joy in making art again, and creating swag and character designs for clients. Even drawing for fun of my own stuff, like my beloved boys from my crazy as fuck plant people dystopian. I drew a lot of those guys. A lot.
Like this scruffy dad potato.
And this precious floofer.
I even could afford a new much higher end Wacom tablet as well as paid off my one and only credit card. I thank every client I have, and even my regulars who still commission me. Without you, none of it would have been possible.
I even started an art only Instagram. Which you can follow me here!
Hey, Lex, what happened to those bipolar blog posts?
In early 2017, I started to blog about being bipolar. Something near and dear to me, and something I feel near obsessively passionate about. I was motivated by Carrie Fisher’s death to keep the conversation going. Seeing friend after friend admit they have depression, or anxiety, or newly diagnosed with any mental illness like it was a shameful secret was honestly…exhausting. No one should ever feel ashamed. Ever. And the blog was helpful to many, and I regrettably fell off from doing it. Not from lack of interest, but from my own monsters in my head I needed to work out. I couldn’t help anyone else until I could help myself.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, I spoke to someone on Facebook who seemed down over something completely insignificant. But then after it spiraled, and we unpacked it all, I showed him the bipolar posts. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t fucking work. He was excited, encouraged me to keep going, and even started to make calls to get a therapist. In that moment, it was worth it. It truly did make a difference. And in 2018, I plan to restart it.
Well, Lex…now that you mention it, haven’t you lost weight?
In March 2017, I started a weight loss program. Something I did quietly instead of shouting from the rooftops. I’ve been very public about my struggle with my weight. I’ve yo-yo’d for years. And at GRL 2016, I tipped the scales at 290+ pounds. I actually cried in my hotel room as I struggled with simple things like trying to get dressed because I couldn’t bend over. As of today, I’m 216, and down 76 pounds. I tracked down a photo from just before GRL 2016, and today where I attempted to replicate the same pose, dirty mirror, and crap on the counter. It’s crazy to finally see the difference.
Hello, 2018, pardon me if I hesitate to shake your hand…
So, as we look to 2018 with trepidation, we also can’t let ourselves fall into despair. Do what’s in your power, and what isn’t, leave it alone. Be kinder to each other. Call your Mom, your Dad, your siblings, whatever family you have and tell them you love them. Play a game with your kids, let them win. Hug your pets, even if they have no fucking idea what their giant hairless roommate is doing. Go outside. Even if it’s for a split second, even if you stand in the doorway, just go outside. Play PokemonGo, even if your friends think it’s stupid. Buy coffee for a stranger. Give a homeless person that bottle of water. Draw that thing you’ve been too scared to draw. Write that story even if you think it’ll suck. Audition for that role of a lifetime. Take that class that you always wanted to. Fuck, go back to school if you want to. Apply for that job. You might not get it, but at least you applied. Take that trip around the world. Get married. Or don’t get married. Or break up with that asshole, they weren’t good for you anyway. Come out. Or don’t come out yet, the world will still be here. Live your truth. Make good art. You are beautiful. You are loved. You persist.