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Game slaughtered by words cannot be skinned. 
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- kelly sue deconnick -

I just checked Twitter and it felt like that COMMUNITY gif with the fire and the pizzas. The American President is apparently refusing to condemn literal Nazis, the Republic is falling, and I just checked the expiration dates on our passports, so maybe you've got better things to do than read this newsletter. No hard feelings.

I've been thinking a lot about how I spend my time of late.  

I'm in my forties now and I suspect the urgency of this concern is my version of a mid-life crisis. I am a woman on a budget, as stingy with my minutes as a man who freed a genie* is with his three wishes. I can't use my time to make more time, alas (wishing for more wishes--they never allow this, do they?) but I think I'm trying to do that very thing. Not sure how else to characterize my sudden passion for diet and exercise, or the vitamin regimen I subject myself to, knowing, on some level, science doesn't support the claims. At this stage of my life, time is a more limiting factor than money and I'm willing to spend a little on snake oil just in case. Is it lottery ticket mentality? 'You can't win if you don't play.' No, I don't think that's it exactly. It feels more like a penalty paid for allowing myself the fantasy of control. It is a small luxury tax that I can afford.

How many more years do I have left to produce good work? I will never write that novel if I don't finish that novel and I'll certainly never finish that novel if I don't start. But how can I start with three comics, an anthology, a TV project, a consulting gig and two nonfiction book pitches already on my plate? To say nothing of parenting, taekwondo, or anything else one might do for pleasure. Is there time to make something truly good before I die? Is there time enough to make what I'm already doing better? 

Those of you young enough to be my children may be reading my tone as dark. It doesn't feel that way from here, I promise. It feels practical. Honesty that I've earned. I'm not sad, or even melancholy. I simply feel as though the last 20 years or so have gone by without my paying proper attention and I want to do better with the next 20. After all, there may not be 20 to waste after that. (That sounds morbid too. I'm sorry. I don't know how to talk about the fleeting and limited nature of time without talking about death. Truth is, none of us is guaranteed another 20 years, or even 20 minutes. We are all going to die and no one knows when and I'm sorry you had to find out in a newsletter, this is very awkward for us both.)

My father is a practical man. I've always loved this about him and I'd like to think it's something I inherited. He is also someone who has always gone to books for answers. (I asked him when I was about Henry Leo's age how a telephone worked and he said he didn't know, so we got a book and we built one. I'm not talking about tin cans and string. We made a telephone. A primitive version, but a telephone all the same. I don't remember much about the process, but I recall we had to take apart a giant battery to get some component out of it and I wasn't allowed to touch anything. My dad is a Popular Mechanics kind of guy. A maker, since before the magazine of that name.)

So as I've been thinking about my time and how I spend it, puzzling out how to do more with less and whatnot, I've done as my father taught me and turned to books on the topic. 

Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte - Probably the first book I read on the topic, a year or two ago now. It's great, I do recommend it, but I caution that the promise of the subtitle is never fulfilled. There is no real "how to" in this book. There is a 'you're not crazy or incompetent' though, and I found comfort in that. The book is also unexpectedly feminist, expressly addressing the predicament of working mothers and their average half an hour of free time per week. 

Yes, you read that right.  We used it on a Bitch Planet back cover and it reads like satire, but it's real. 

I've just started The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I'm not far enough in to have much to say. We'll talk about it more when I'm done. 

I just finished Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport and herein I've found the practical "how to" advice that I was looking for in the Schulte book. I started trying to implement some of these strategies two weeks ago, and so far I'd call the experiment a success, though of course some days are better than others and some strategies more suited to my lifestyle than others. This is already much longer than I'd intended so I'll tell you about a few and if you want to hear more, you can reply to this email and let me know. 

I come to my office every weekday morning, light a candle and put some music on. I like scented candles. They're expensive, but I try to get them at discount stores like HomeGoods or Nordstrom Rack and can usually get them for six or seven bucks a piece. (My favorite scent was a Ginger Rosewood by Fringe, but I only had one and I haven't seen them again. Goodbye, Ginger Rosewood. You served me well.) I like candles for their ritualistic history. It's a little like an agnostic prayer, lighting a candle at the start of my day. For music, I favor classical. Spotify made me a Schubert station that's probably my favorite, but there are viola and cello-centric playlists that I enjoy as well. 

I light a candle, put on music and make a plan for my day.  

I schedule two "deep work" sessions -- 90 minutes a piece right now -- during which I use Freedom to ensure I can't distract myself with social media.  I write during these sessions, headphones on, door closed, focused. 
 
I schedule lunch, viola practice, interviews and online/email time AROUND those prioritized "deep work" sessions. I schedule what time I will stop working. 

Once the day's schedule is made, I also make a short gratitude list (a big thing, a small thing and an experience) and a to do list for the day. Then I get to work. 

At the end of the day, I review my lists and my schedule and see how I did. I log how many hours I actually spent on "deep work" and I record that as well as my other metric: pages scripted. I look at the calendar for the next day, turn off the music, blow out the candle and--and this is corny--say aloud, "all done." 

And then I go play with my kids.  

It's helping, honestly. The last two weeks haven't gone perfectly, but I think I've been more relaxed on my "off" time and more productive at my desk. 

Sometimes things don't go as planned -- this, for instance, has taken longer to write than the hour I allotted -- but schedules can be changed, and our goal is always progress not perfection. 

I'm supposed to be having my lunch now, so I'm going to stop here. 

What have you been thinking about? 

***

#VisibleWomen got a good deal of coverage this last round and we've had more requests for the spreadsheet than ever before -- SIXTY-THREE as I write this, including traditional publishing companies looking for illustrators and game companies looking for writers. Fingers crossed. Next #VisibleWomen day will be in February. 

BITCH PLANET: TRIPLE FEATURE #3 is on shelves tomorrow and our assistant, Kit Cox a/k/a Lt. Trouble, has her first published comic in it, created with REDLANDS artist Vanesa R. Del Ray. Kit's apoplectic about the whole thing, so you should probably pick it up. (There are also two incredible stories by Dylan Meconis and Alissa Sallah & Alec Valerius, any one of which is worth the price of the comic, but really you should pick it up because it's fun for me to watch Kit freak out.)

The Ringo award noms are up, and voting is open!  ODY-C is nominated, as is JUGHEAD, ISLAND, LOVE IS LOVE, MARCH Book III and Jordie Bellaire -- all of whom deserve your love and support, but I think I'm most tickled to see Clayton Cowles on a list with John Workman. Workman is a legend, maybe the best there ever was. Our "Ace" (My nickname for Mr. Cowles) is one of comics unsung heroes, and it puts a lump in my throat to see him on a list with a titan like that. AND he's in the Atlantic today. Good job, Ace. 

* Yes, I know 'genies' are anglicized djinn, which are entirely different. Instead of 'um, actually'-ing me you could buy The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories featuring work by my friends Neil Gaiman and Amal El-Motar. They are talented and beautiful human beings and you will not be disappointed. 

Also, also, also: "Game slaughtered by words cannot be skinned," is attributed to Genghis Khan. Thanks to Warren Ellis, who is better at everything than I am, except applying make up and not smoking, and found the attribution for me this morning. You should read Warren's newsletter. And he should not smoke. I have never actually seen him apply make up on himself or anyone else. I'm just guessing. 

- yr pal matt -

I did an interview with Micah Peters at The Ringer and it had been a very long time since I had done an interview and I think you can tell mostly because by the end of it I suggested we start a podcast where we just talk about TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN Episode 8. Every week. That's it. That's the show.
 

 
I am the Fireman. I am the water; I am the well. Containers and the contained. A vortex over a shack looks a lot like the sun bursting through the mist over a sheriff’s department only turned inside-out. And a blue rose might be a Tulpa but it’s also not the first blue rose that fucked up a girl named Laura.
  
 

 
SEX CRIMINALS #21,22, and 23 are scripted and I think I’m going to roll on and bang out 24 and 25. In part because the engine’s hot, the arc is all broken, and I can’t wait to get to writing 26 -- but also because ... stuff.

The fourth trade, FOURGY! Comes out in September. The fifth will be called FIVE FINGERED DISCOUNT.
 
I wrote one of the stories for BITCH PLANET TRIPLE FEATURE. It’s in issue 5 and it’ll be drawn by Elsa Charretier and it’s called “Everybody’s Grandma is a Little Bit Racist” and it made me wish we had more of a market on the American comic book shelf for short story work. What was the Andrew Vacchs line about short stories? Like boxing in a small ring, you have to get busy quick?
 
I went fishing the other day and found something for CASANOVA I’m trying to reconcile. After Crimbo arc 5 is scripted, it’s back over to CASANOVA. I think there’s twelve more issues in volume 4 but if you’d have asked me two months ago I’d have said eight? Anyway.  
 
Terry cranks away on ADVENTUREMAN #1! I think the first issue all in is gonna land at like sixty-four pages...
 
I’m doing a spoken word/storytelling event at Dragon*Con -- 5 TRUTHS AND A LIE. Hosted by Brian Bradley and... and I dunno what’s been made public yet or not, so I don’t know what I can say, but it’s Saturday at 8:30 pm at the Marriott. These things make me terrified so they’re always worth doing.

I’ve been thinking about putting together a new longform spoken piece for this year’s JoCo Cruise, too -- not sure all the there is there yet but... well, I’m fishing. I’ve done some storytelling events here and there but nothing performative in a while.  Can’t stop thinking about it so there might be something there. More as I know more.
 

 
After the nightmares of Nixon’s Tooth I retreated to fiction, rare for me, more rare than I’d like but I always adapt and mimic what I hear, whether it’s an accent or a prose style so I usually just read nonfiction. Anyway, it’s been DUNE and MOBY DICK again for me, trying to cleanse the palette.
 
Seriously, Fone Bone knew what he was talking about, that book fucking RULES. Every time I read it I find more I love about it.
 
I have a dream about doing an adaptation of MOBY DICK for comics -- I think if you read ODY-C you can see that well enough -- but can’t bring myself to find the nerve to ask the person I want to do it with. Like, I’m asking-someone-to-go-to-the-prom nervous. Her name rhymes with STRAIT NEATEN. Shh! Don’t tell. I’m shy. And one time she saw me get my tit stabbed off and I’m embarrassed. So I’m writing about it here.
 
It would be done as a comedy. MOBY DICK, WITH JOKES; OR, THE WHALE, WITH JOKES. Because dick jokes worked out for me so well in SEX CRIMINALS I’m looking to head into Moby Dick jokes I guess?  Ugh. Moby DAD jokes more like. Eesh.

You deserve better and I'm sorry.

#ICYMI


Hey! Bitch Planet made the list of 100 Great Works of Dystopian Fiction on Vulture.com!

My Buddy: Patti Smith on Sam Shepard.

Are you joining us in February for the JocoCruise?? John Hodgman, Ted Leo, Wil Wheaton and Maria Bamford are. So is Kit. 

"Who am I in the face of the Universe if not just a bro who wants to get stuff done?" Tim Goessling of the Daily Dot tried living a day according to Ben Franklin's schedule.

There's a blood shortage right now. Find out where to donate blood here.

"Seal vs Octopus part II. After a battle with the Octopus wiggling and struggling to escape the grips of the hungry Seal, it eventually loses the battle and the Seal was victorious," says the wildlife photographer's caption. Bullshit -- we know Sealthulu when we see it.

An ice cream recipe for doggos!

"31 Things I Found On The Internet Today, vol. CCXLVI" has a handful of interesting ones, but it was this Instagram account that replaces the titles of paperbacks that had us screamlaughing at Milkfed HQ. Here's a preview:

tl;dr
  • Aug 16 - BITCH PLANET: TRIPLE FEATURE #3 on SALE
  • Sept 1-4 - Kelly Sue, Matt & Kit at Dragon Con!
  • Sept 8-10 - Team Milkfed at Rose City Comic Con!
  • Sept 20 - BITCH PLANET: TRIPLE FEATURE #4 on SALE
  • Sept. 27 - SEX CRIMINALS Vol. 4: FOURGY! on SALE
Milkfed Logo by Rian Hughes
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