As I more-than-half-expected, the prospect of skewing a little more personal made me more-than-half-apprehensive.
I've started and abandoned a couple of previous versions of this post. Being glib is easy; it's when I start actually trying to communicate something that matters to me that I start over-thinking and second-guessing. But you know, enough is enough. I'm just going to push through and get this done. So let's begin.
Hello, I'm Stephen, and this is my blog. It's called Back From Erstwhile because when I started it, some years ago now, I thought of myself as an "erstwhile writer", and I wanted to begin - and document - the process of moving from being someone who used to write to being someone who writes.
Now it's 2012, and you can't really dispute that I've managed to become a writer again. With the help and support of a great many people, I've seen books in print collecting the two comics I co-created, Xeno's Arrow and my new project, Cold Iron Badge (although neither, to be honest, is currently widely available). I've written the first draft of a novel. I just finished a short story (one of several I’ve written over the past few years) and I have other projects in my head, warring for attention with one another and the rest of my life.
Those other things – the ones I usually gloss over as “the rest of my life” -- are really what I wanted to talk about today. Let's stipulate that I'm a writer, and that one of my big goals is to become a professional writer (which is a process that I hope to move forward and share with you over the course of this year).
So leaving that aside, who else am I?
I am a parent
This is a big one. I have two children; my daughter is eight and my son is six. They're both beautiful, happy, healthy, smart and loving kids. They're also both autistic.
Special needs change the experience of parenthood in ways that it's hard to describe -- especially for me, since I don't have an experience of parenting typically-developing children to compare it to. My partner Sarah describes it as having to work ten times as hard to make one tenth the progress, and that's a big part of it; things that come naturally to most kids are a constant struggle for us.
And the rewards are different, just as the challenges are; sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, always different. We take our joys where we can find them, and there are joys, joys that, on balance, are much more than worth it. But it's often frustrating, usually tiring and always takes up my focus and energy in a way that not all parents have to deal with; it's one reason that as I have mentioned more than once, my time is at a premium and that I call my lunch time at work "The Writing Hour".
I am a guy with a day job
I work, as I've mentioned here occasionally, at the
I am a partner
My children did not burst full-formed from my brow like Athena from the head of Zeus (unless there's something that someone hasn't been telling me). My co-habiting co-parent Sarah is the other side of that equation, and in addition to being a generally awesome co-parent, does a huge amount of the planning and logistical heavy lifting that being a family with special needs requires - coordinating and being on the front line for all the appointments and therapies for our kids. I am not the greatest time manager in the world, and her sooper-geenius level skills in that capacity continue to impress me, after our being together for about a decade.
The shared experience of parenthood changes any relationship, and when special needs are involved, the change is even more profound. It can be hard to maintain the other aspects of a relationship in the face of those stresses, and it's kind of impressive that Sarah and I work together and get along as well as we do under the circumstances.
I am sick
I'm mostly better now. But I caught whatever the bug that's been going around is, and that, along with the kids being sick too, was pretty much the exclusive focus of the last two weeks. Most of my time not spent working and caring for the children was devoted to coughing, blowing my nose and sleeping. Well, not all at the same time...
I am a guy who needs to get back in shape
This is another area where I've been erstwhile. My weight is something I've struggled with for much of my life. There was a period when I managed to get not just into shape, but really good shape -- but that was before kids. I have a lot less free time to spend at the gym, now, and it shows. Not to mention that I'm a stress eater with a weakness for carbs. I was starting to get on track towards the end of last year, getting into a groove with the exercise room in our building, but that kind of fell by the wayside when 2012 hit and brought a big old mess of stress and sickness that ate a lot of my time and energy. I will be getting back to the gym, and I'll probably start documenting that process here too; I just want to be done with this damned coughing first.
I am a guy who blathers about who he is on his blog
So that’s who I am. It’s not a complete list; it couldn’t be. It’s not everything I've ever been, or everything I'll ever be. It's obviously not even, really, everything that I am at this moment in time; there’s a lot more I could have included if I wanted to drill down beyond the substantive (I am… A Man Who Enjoys Cheese; A Guy Who Over-uses Semicolons!) .
But it's what's important, and top of mind. It's where my focus, energy and time are going. It's who I am right now, March 2012.
And who are you?