Just keeeeeeeep poking at the thing she’s constantly deflecting about. There’s no way that can turn out badly, right? Oh Pakku. You just gotta investigate everything.
This weekend was our first convention of 2016, Star Fest. Star Fest was originally just a Trek convention, but it expanded to offer additional shows as part of the main event, such as Comic Fest and Horror Fest. It’s a more laid back event than a huge convention, like Denver Comic Con. For sales, that can sometimes be tough, but Cory and I consider a show successful less by its numbers (although we do pay attention to those) and more by the quality of the interactions we have. We both need a certain amount of positive, or moving, experiences to feel good about a show.
I offer free sketches as a way to invite people to stop and take a look at my stories and work. While I’m whipping up the sketch (I can do one in as little as two minutes, now) I’ll hand them a book to look through while they wait. If they finish before I’m done, I’ll ask if they want to hear about the character I’m drawing. I get to go full story-teller mode then, which has become so second nature that it’s almost a piece of performance art by now. I get really into it. Especially if I’m talking to a little girl about Mizha who is, as I put it, “my secret main character.” Usually I get just on the edge of tears in that situation, because I think about how much I hope those little girls follow their own dreams. Yet the most moving interaction at this show was not with one of the many bright-eyed kiddos we saw, but with a woman who found Mizha’s tale hitting very close to home.
“Mizha is my secret main character,” I always begin. “She’s secret, because most people don’t realize she’s the one moving the story forward until they get farther in. Part of that is Mizha’s a very quiet personality. She’s been told her whole life that what everyone else wants and needs is more important than what she wants and needs. So even though she has an amazing power, which is to make her dreams into real things and real places, she only ever uses this ability to make a fantasy world to escape into. All of that changes when the goddess of dreams comes to her and says, ‘Mizha, I need your help.’ So for the first time, Mizha has something that’s so important to her that she’s not willing to compromise it or sacrifice it for anyone else. And in pursuing that mission, she starts to realize that what she wants out of life does matter, and her decisions do matter, and if she sets her mind to it, she can in fact change the world.”
“Oh wow,” I hear as I finish, and I look up from my drawing to see the woman I’m making the sketch for blinking misty-eyed. “Can I…give you a hug?” she asks. “This is just…uncanny. Mizha’s just like my life right now. I always struggle to do the things I need, because I’m always taking care of other people, and lately I’m trying…” She trails off. I clamber out from behind the table, climbing over Cory, to give her a hug. I talk a little about my own struggles with boundaries, which contributes to difficulties in taking care of my own needs. All aspects of my own life that have gone into Mizha. As she leaves I say, “You’re a remarkable person. You are. You deserve to take care of yourself.” And then we both get a bit teary-eyed as we say good-bye.
Cory and I didn’t sell a lot of books at Star Fest this weekend, but for that conversation alone, it was a show worth going to.