Yes, I got "Squam-ed" and then disappeared. Sorry about that, but I do have a good excuse and a note from my mom. My excuse: I have been simultaneously getting divorced AND writing the sequel to Totally Tangled.
I don't recommend trying this at home. It leads to lack of sleep, chemical imbalances, bad skin, weight gain and general chaos and insanity. And that's just from the book. Don't even get me started on the divorce!
I had gone looking for a book about how to get divorced, you know, something like The Idiot's Guide to Divorce. But, no, I never found one that actually made sense. I did, however, get a lot of really good (and lots of bad) advice from friends. The two most useful things I learned are: 1. Get a lawyer. And 2. There is no such thing as a "friendly divorce." I mean what are you thinking?! If you could argue about the kids, money, schedules, and keeping promises... in a "friendly" way... you wouldn't be getting divorced would you!? Ah well. I did just recently find an excellent book, that sums it all up, called Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. It's by Lisa Scottoline of mystery book fame. Her name on the cover is actually what attracted me to the book rather than the title. It's a collection of essays she wrote for newspapers and magazines about her life - including ex-husbands (she calls them "Thing One and Thing Two"), Spanx, mothers, daughters, the King Tut exhibit, and lots of insights about dogs. They are all wickedly funny and many make you think (ouch). In case you are wondering, I am vaguely considering getting a dog (although I am allergic to them). I am NOT considering getting a second husband - I think I am allergic to them too. If anyone has a good recommendation for a dog, please let me know. I don't like dogs that make me sneeze, drool, are scary, can eat my kids, or should have been a cat. If there are any others, PLEASE let me in on the secret.
As for the second excuse, "I was writing a book." - that one has been almost as stressful, but much more pleasant and exciting too. This is one of those stressors that is on your bucket list, but gets turned into a "to-do" list item because of all the other crap that pushes it over there. Do you know what I mean?
At the beginning of the summer, I was so overwhelmed by all the "doors" that were opening around me, that I contacted a creativity coach, who I had worked with in the past. I emailed Judith Godfrey and said "Help! All my dreams are coming true!" It's like my Irish grandfather always said "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it." And isn't that secretly one of our greatest fears? I often find that I will shoot myself in the foot rather than find out what would happen if my idea became a success. So this whole year has been a series of pushing my limits to see what might happen if I actually say "Yes!" to the things I have always wanted. This is really scary stuff and impossible to plan for. If a door opened, in the past I would say "I don't have time" or "I don't know how to do that" or some other excuse, and just walk past. I have been daring myself to at least look through the doors now, if not take a step through. But what I am finding is an entirely NEW hallway filled with doors behind EACH of those opening doors. Can you imagine the excitement... and the horror? If you follow this analogy, you can see how easy it is to get lost and overwhelmed. The divorce may seem like a sudden and shocking thing to many of you. But in reality, it is just anther door that I have been tiptoeing past for years. And writing books? I joined SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators) when I was 15 years old - back when they were still "SCBW" no "I" yet. I sent my picture books out to dozens of editors for years and years before I gave up. I think I was just wandering around the wrong hallway.
So, this second book started out as one thing, then Suzanne asked me to put it on hold and write a sequel to Totally Tangled... and last night, as I was desperately trying to lay out the pages... I realized, crud! It's not all going to fit into 52 pages! I have amazing work from a ton of different Zentangle artists and the last thing I wanted was to cut anything they had done. So I started cutting all the stuff that I had drawn. My projects, my ideas... at midnight I threw some stuff across the room and stomped out of the studio. You see where some of the stress comes into play here? Abundance can be very stressful! The book is technically due at the end of the month, and my husband had the kids for the past five days, so I have done nothing but work on this book. Today I take over mommy duties again, and I have two weeks left til book deadline (and the divorce changes take effect too) and I feel like a wild animal caught in the headlights. Have I mentioned I'm not good with last minute things? I went to bed completely panicked.
This morning, I jumped out of bed with the horrible realization that what I actually had was... TWO BOOKS! That's a good thing, right? An overabundance of material that can become two separate books is a good thing. It's a good thing! It's good.... good.... good...