An unplanned life is not worth examining. 
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- kelly sue deconnick -

It's been a batshit crazy week here in Lake Wobegon*.

  • Dog fight on our front lawn,
  • Pediatric scare that sent me running to grab the ER physician who lives next door,
  • Harvey displaced our cousins, 
  • A kid threw a rock at our car,
  • We decided to write a Viking LARP for HL's birthday even though we've already overbooked September with 3 cons and a party, 
  • I'm sorry -- THREE CONS and TWO PARTIES,
  • We're stressed to the gills so for some reason, in the middle of all this, we decided now -- right now -- with the economy and our nation in extreme unrest, we should totally put an offer in on a house,
  • Oh, and Tallulah -- our daughter the super villain -- demanded to start attending Sunday school.  

Because at House DeFraction we don't just freak out when we can FREAK THE FUCK OUT, right?  

It is Our Way. 

Please don't worry.  Magically, everyone is fine. [SOMETHING SOMETHING TORMUND GIANTSBANE.]

All of these things have me thinking about my communities, though.  

Our neighbors, colleagues... our friends. The UU church community. The high school buddy who volunteered to look over our real estate documents (During Harvey. While he was IN IT. "I'm home and dry, send it on over.") The community that took care of my cousins. And you all.

I am feeling intensely grateful for the many intersecting communities that I find myself a part of today.  I guess that's not a particularly deep or unique thought, but it's sincere.  

Thank you.


You guys, I'm worried about Tormund Giantsbane. 


We talked a bit last newsletter about the book Deep Work as well as some of my practices. I asked if folks were interested in hearing more and 16 of you responded in the affirmative. (Two of you also responded to tell me you'd located more of the Ginger Rosewood candles I like. Thank you for that -- #community!) 

I've got to pack for Dragon*Con yet, so I can't get in too deep, but I'll get my feet wet: I keep two notebooks.  

One is my bullet journal, the other is my calendar. (I also have a Panda Planner that I play with for scheduling my deep work blocks. They're on Amazon if you want to try them out, but honestly? I think it's better just to keep everything in the bullet journal. It's a matter of taking a minute in the morning to write half hour blocks of time down the page. Not exactly a hardship.)

I've purchased the branded bullet journals before because I wanted a way to put some money in Ryder Carroll's pocket as a thank you, but I prefer to use grid-lined Leuchtturm1917s because I enjoy the range of colors. 

There are people who approach their bullet journals like art projects, so folks often think that's what you have to do, and of course, they don't have time. No disrespect to people who create bullet journals as art journals -- I think they're gorgeous and if I had the time or talent, I'd be all in. But bullet journals can be -- as mine is -- ass ugly, AND THEY STILL WORK. The point isn't to be pretty. The point is to be functional. My handwriting isn't particularly lovely and I don't draw. But I journal every day.  

The key here -- and this is very, very important -- is to make sure the system never becomes the focus. The focus is the WORK. The system can't be cumbersome. The system can't require maintenance that detracts from the work.  Got it?  Okay. 

So what IS a bullet journal anyway? Well, there's a great 4 minute video on YouTube that pretty much covers it. But after a couple of years of bullet journaling, I've let a lot of even that minimal structure go.  For me, "bullet journal" is really more the practice of constantly taking notes and keeping those notes all in one place.  That's about it.  Truly.  It's deceptively simple, but it's a life-changing practice. 

Here are the contents of the last thirty plus pages of my bullet journal, so you can get an idea of how I use mine: 

  • Notes on a call with an electrician about Zinsco panels. 
  • A sweater thread of an idea. 
  • A "brain dump" of open issues and to dos (culled together by flipping through previous pages and moving -- in Bullet Journal parlance "migrating" -- my unfinished items up from the previous month.)
  • Notes from conversation with the house inspector.
  • Information on a petition Greenpeace is sponsoring.
  • The name and address of the father of the kid who chucked the rock at our car.
  • A project list. 
  • morning pages
  • daily do to lists (there are a lot of these)
  • Ideas for Henry's LARP.
  • A shopping list for Henry's LARP.
  • Notes on a call with an editor.
  • Notes on a call with business manager.
  • Notes on a call with our attorney.
  • A to do list for Girl Scouts.
  • A random idea I had for a book that's in process.
  • Something I dreamed that gave me an idea.
  • A grocery list.
  • Something Tallulah said I wanted to remember to share.
  • Notes from the Portland Urban League Board Meeting.
  • Notes on food I'm eating, an idea for a recipe.
  • Notes on a call with Studio execs.
  • Ideas on how to make some changes based on that call.
  • Breakdowns for a comic script.
  • August habit tracker.
  • Notes on a book I'm reading.
  • August calendar.

So the dirty little secret here?  There's nothing magic or complicated about about it. The magic is in the consistency of the practice. The magic is getting it out of your head, where you can see it. 

It's scary, I know.  As long as an idea lives in your head, it's perfect. The distance from your eye to the page provides enough perspective for you to see its flaws, yes, but it also allows you to make the connections that are at the heart of creative work.  

When I teach, there's something I try to emphasize to my students: 

People think IDEAS are rare. They're not. IDEAS are not the gold. You have, I promise you, at least a dozen ideas a day.  You don't need to worry about running out of ideas.  

What are your limiting factors?  Time and courage.  

It takes courage to put your thoughts down and face their imperfections. It takes time to craft them into something worth sharing.  

If you manage it?  Even when the product isn't quite what you want it to be, you're a Creator.  If that idea lives forever in your head?  Well... you're just a Dreamer.  

For me? I'd rather have a shitty book I gave my all to and die a writer, than a perfect idea I never did a damned thing with and die a dreamer. 

Also among the replies to last newsletter, this gem from Alison Sampson

Also, KS, the thinking about using your time, it isn't a mid life crisis. A bit like laying out your comic series storyboard to see all your pages of every issue on one sheet of paper, for the first time, the second half of life can potentially be visible in the distance. It is why I draw comics. I think its quite good, really. 

I got her permission to share it with you because I liked it so much. 


The quote up top about an unplanned life not being worth examining is from the Philosophize This! podcast and is in regard to distinguishing Aristotle from Plato. 

* Woe be gone.  I just got that.  I'm an idiot. 

- matt fraction -

I think I'm converting. I think I'm going to become a practicing Jew. Or a practicing Buddhist. One of the two. Maybe both. A Juddhist. The root of all suffering is desire. Eh, what can you do. Let's eat.

See you in Atlanta, GeorgiHOT!!!!!!!11


Kelly Sue, Matt & Kit will all be at Dragon*Con this weekend! Here's where to FIND US*:

2:30PM - Matt & Kelly Sue: AUTOGRAPH SESSION. International Hall South 1-3 (Marriott)
10PM - Kelly Sue: SEX & GENDER ISSUES IN COMICS panel. Chastain I-J (Westin)

1PM - Kelly Sue & Matt: MILKFED CRIMINAL MASTERMINDS panel. Centennial I (Hyatt)
8:30PM - Matt: 5 TRUTHS AND A LIE LIVE! A601-A602 (Marriott)
10PM - Kelly Sue & Matt: COMIC STUDIES ROUNDTABLE. Chastain I-J (Westin)

4PM - Kelly Sue & Matt: IMAGE COMICS 25TH ANNIVERSARY panel. International North (Hyatt)
8:30PM - Kelly Sue & Matt: GONZO QUIZ SHOW: SUNDAY FUNDAY. Regency VI-VII (Hyatt)

*(not Kit. Kit's schedule is a GHOST SCHEDULE which means if you want to say hi to her you should HIT REPLY TO THIS NEWSLETTER and ask her if she's going to be at that THING)

If you'd like to help with Harvey relief, here are a couple places to start: 
GoFundMe has created a central location for campaigns that have been set up to help those affected by Harvey. (With thanks to Jake Tapper for the tip.)
To donate to the Red Cross, visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

PDXers: the Urban League's Equal Opportunity Dinner is September 26th.

Kelly Sue is obsessed with Glenda Goldwater.

"WE DENY that God is a boy and has actual arms."
From Nadia Bolz Weber, progressive pastor and pal of Kelly Sue's: a thoughtful response to the "Nashville Statement."

From trash queens: anthologize my heart: BITCH PLANET's triple features & the history of feminist anthology comix.

Going on the 2018 JoCo Cruise AND to Dragon*Con this week? There's a meetup dinner for Sea Monkeys -- JoCo Cruise-goers -- at Dragon*Con on Saturday from 5-7PM.  Join the Facebook Sea Monkeys at Dragon Con group for more info. 

Check out Matt's visit with Alpha Comic Book Club (Access via signing up for FREE 30-day trial).

Friend of Milkfed Michael Avon Oeming has his new hardcover artbook out in the world: NO PLAN B: THE ART OF MICHAEL AVON OEMING, a retrospective of his 20+ years making comics! Pick up your copy here or here or from your favorite brick 'n mortar.

Y'all know Ms. Wendy? Ms. Wendy is Team Milkfed's Majordomo, or House Mom, and we love her dearly.  Her youngest, Austin, has a song up on SoundCloud. IT HAS SWEARS.  Kids today.  Pfft. 

  • Sept 1-4 - Kelly Sue, Matt & Kit at Dragon Con!
  • Sept 8-10 - Team Milkfed at Rose City Comic Con!
  • Sept. 27 - SEX CRIMINALS Vol. 4: FOURGY! on SALE
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