"I think I'll try my hand at comics!" was the fateful declaration of the day.
"Why?" my Christmas Zafara asked.
That flustered me a little. "Um, why not?"
"Okay!" she shouted gleefully. "No better reason, right?"
Yanli raced out of the room; her Warf like attention span had probably caused her to forget what we were talking about already.
"This random decision has been brought to you by 'Random Decisions with Kristy'. Tune in next time to watch her trim her bangs awry and come up with another," Elise chimed in from the other side of the room.
My Faerie Cybunny was playing with the baby, an Acara named Inna, and her remark had been mostly addressed to the baby. I self-consciously reached up and ran my fingers through my bangs, which I had again cut too short and slightly askew.
"Last year it was journalism, last month it was dying your hair green--"
"That was an accident! The bottles were in the wrong place, I didn't look before I used it," I cut in.
"And this month it is comics, so next month you'll decide to skydive off the Virtupets Space Station." I blushed here, as I had considered that once or twice, before realizing the impossibility of it. "Or take over Neopia. I'm glad though, comics are safer than journalism," Elise finished.
"Um, sorry, Bunny-mine, but I meant on the side. I'm still gonna be a journalist," I replied.
Elise groaned in annoyance and threw a pillow at me, her aim was good, and it hit me in the face.
"Aw, come on, Bunny-mine," I whined.
"You just got out of the hospital three weeks ago after the Taelia incident. Wasn't that enough to make you realize journalism is a bad idea?" Elise pointed out.
"That was not journalism's fault, that was history's fault, or something like that." I was confused, but I knew what I meant.
"Whatever." Elise drew the word out almost as long as she draws her 'so's out. "What are you going to do a comic about?"
"Um, you know, that might be a good thing to think about," I said.
Elise rolled over and began to bang her head on the floor. Inna sat there and laughed, Elise's mental anguish at having such a mother clearly amused the baby.
"Aw, don't do that, Elise. I'll come up with something," I said.
"Why would you decide to do a comic series, if you don't have anything to do comics about?" Elise asked.
"Um, why not?" It worked with Yanli.
It didn't work with Elise; I got another pillow in the face. Inna laughed so hard she fell over, and continued to laugh as she lay there. A burst of inspiration hit me.
"I'll do one about our family!" I cried.
"I don't want you to do one about our family!" Elise exclaimed.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Because I don't want to know how I look in your head." Elise's look was sour.
"But, I've drawn you before, you didn't mind it then," I protested.
"I meant personality-wise," Elise clarified.
In spite of Elise's misgivings, I set off on my great and epic quest to create a comic series of my own. I aggravated my family by following them around, my pink idea notebook in hand. Yanli bounced around and insisted that if I gave her sugar I could surely come up with some great ones. Elise threatened to lock me in my closet for a year if I tried that, only adding to my suspicions that she doesn't know that I'm her mom, and not the other way around. I wasn't really eager to see what would happen if I gave Yanli sugar anyway, so I turned her generous offer down.
Princess didn't help any; she suggested I do an informative comic about Lost Desert history. The bookish Desert Uni proceeded to give me a six hour dissertation on the life cycles of Scarabs and their impact on Desert life. I was the longest six hours of my life that month. She wasn't really good comic material, as all she does is study.
Anita was also no help. The moment she got wind of my scheme to use my family as inspiration for my comics, she backed her bags and took herself and Celine off to the Lost Desert to stay with her cousin for a few weeks.
Chloe started volunteering at the Defenders on Neopia even more frequently, and Bluejay became nocturnal.
That left Inna as the only one who wasn't actively trying to avoid me. I realized she was good comic material, probably the best in the family. I started writing down her antics and then began writing up scripts for the comics.
I worked on the first comic for days, giving it my all. While it wasn't amazing, I thought it was pretty good for a first attempt into the comic world, and was proud of my hard work.
The next day, I went down to the shopping district of Neopia Central to pick up some groceries for the family. As I passed the Book Store, an ad in the newspapers they had on display caught my eye. I bought the paper and read the advertisement.
It was a service that offered to assess the work of aspiring artists and tell them their chances at going professional with their work. I grinned, I could send my comic, the criticism would be good for me if I wanted to grow as an artist. I eagerly rushed home to send my comic to them. I quickly shipped it off, and then kind of forgot about it.
Two weeks later I was sitting in the kitchen, sipping green tea and sorting through the mail. I opened an envelope and found my comic in it. There was a letter in there too, and I opened it hurriedly, eager to see what they said about it.
It wasn't favorable; I sat there and reread it a few times in shock. The softened summary of what was said was that it was kiddy, sloppy, unprofessional, the joke was bizarre, and I probably wasn't cut out for comics. I hadn't been expecting much, with it being my first comic, but I hadn't been expecting it to be ripped to pieces like that. Also, the ad had led me to believe they were supposed to offer advice on what to do to change for the better, but the only advice I got was to give up comics.
Yanli had been eating a snack across the table. I must have looked like a Warf put out in the rain, because the ever oblivious Yanli noticed something was wrong.
"Kristy, you okay?" she had to ask four times before I noticed.
"Uh, fine," I replied absentmindedly.
"Kristy, can I eat all the sugar, coffee, and candy in the house?" Yanli tried.
"Whatever, honey." I got up and headed for the door.
Yanli jumped up and ran out of the kitchen, screaming, "Elise, I think Kristy is dying!"
I went out into the garden to mope. I lay on the ground in front of one of our ponds, and dangled my fingers in the water. Not long later, I heard light footsteps coming down the garden path.
"You freaked out Yanli something fierce." Elise stood looking down at me.
"Sorry," I muttered.
"Talk to me," Elise said as she sat down next to me, putting her feet in the water.
"I dunno, Elise. I guess you were right. Maybe I'm just not meant for comics, or journalism. I'm a disaster at the one, and I'm not a very good artist, or very funny." I said, looking at her reflection in the water. "Maybe I should just give up after all. I could sell insurance, or something,"
Elise chuckled at the last statement and patted my head. "You know, Kristy, I'm not very good at saying things that maybe I should,"
I looked up at her. "What are you talking about? You always have something to say about everything, and you're usually right."
"Emotional things," Elise clarified.
"Oh, well, go on."
"Maybe what might be 'best for you' isn't what is best for you. If you like making comics and being a journalist, even if one is hazardous to your health, and the other you're just not very good at, you shouldn't give up. I can think of a hundred reasons why you should quit, but I can think of five-hundred and fifty reasons why you should keep going."
"Really, five-hundred and fifty?" I asked.
"Yes, and maybe more. I'll let you figure them out for yourself, if you feel like it." Elise stood up.
"Hey, Bunny-mine, what's number five-hundred and fifty?" I called after her.
Elise turned back. "Because, I believe in you, no matter what. No matter what the rational side of my brain says, or my mouth says, in my heart, even when I'm concerned about the sanity of what you are doing, I believe in you, Mama."
Elise quickly turned away and trotted up the garden path, and I realized the best thing was to say was nothing at all.
I got up and shook the water off my hands, smiling. I had just learned one of the five-hundred and fifty reasons why I should keep following my dreams, and I wasn't about to waste any time finding out all the others.