January 7th, 2007 | The Artistic Condition
Thank you all so, so much for your generous condolences about Julia. The stories about your own animals, the T.S. Eliot cat poem, the Jeanette Winterson column, the Eurythmics song (which I’d never heard before, and was perfect), each kind thought and observation you shared —all of this is helping to knit up my unraveled self.
I’m actually feeling pretty good today, but it’s time to knuckle down to work. And daunted as I felt by the prospect of having to write episode #500 in November, that was nothing compared to what I’m feeling as I face #502. This will be the first strip I’ve written without Julia’s assistance since #64. What if my drawing and writing skills regress to this primitive level?
Or worse, what if I can’t do it at all? I know, I know. I’ll be okay. But I always felt like Julia was my muse—not in the sense that she inspired my work, but in the way that she literally oversaw it. She was just always there as I plodded away. On my lap, weighing down my arm as I was trying to type. Insinuating herself right onto my drawing board and threatening to smudge the fresh ink with her tail. Pulling up the masking tape that sticks my paper to the board with her teeth and trying to eat it. Demanding that I stop already and go out for a walk with her.
Uhh…now that I think about it, maybe things will go a little more quickly in her absence.
I got Julia a year before I quit my day job to be a full-time cartoonist. And until quite recently, with Fun Home’s success, I lived in some degree of fear that I’d have to go back to having a day job. So I feel like she has seen me through this phase of my career–and in fact, on to the next. I spent the last couple of weeks on a kind of retreat, huddled up with her and working intensely on the proposal for my next book, another memoir. I was almost done with it on Tuesday afternoon when her symptoms began.