I will fondly remember Gen Con 2015 for so many amazing experiences and new friendships. One of those new friendships is Jesse and Jessi Hawkins who worked in the Modiphius booth with my daughters and me. Up until Gen Con 2015, Jesse I had known only as a name on a project I worked on for Modiphius, one of those many faceless authors and designers I have worked with on various proofreading and editing projects. As a freelancer, we work with so many people around the world and many times we never get to meet or speak to them in person. Getting to meet him face-to-face, learn about his family history, work along side he and his wife, and celebrate winning an ENnie together have moved us from co-workers to friends. But enough from me, hear it in his own words.
Hello everybody! I am both shocked and honored to be this week’s guest blogger. Even though we have worked on a project together I had not met T.R. until this year at Gen Con and he has no idea how nervous I was, so don’t tell him. Prior to this summer he was faceless and intimidating, he was “An Editor.” All you freelancers know what I am talking about, uh-huh. Who can stand in the wake of one such as that? Who can bare the torment? It turns out that he is a super nice guy and just so all of you know T.R. is really just as dashing and handsome in person as he is in all those pictures.
This week is all about the trials and tribulations of balancing freelance writing and having a family. Put simply, it ain’t for babies yo. This is especially true for those of us whose passion for writing and financial gain from writing are not quite equal. Having time for my wife, Jessi, and two boys, Quinlan (age 9) and Maxwell (age 4), is difficult enough normally, but when you add to that writing deadlines and constant email debates with coauthors concerning content, life certainly becomes full.
Before joining the team at Modiphius on the Terrors of the Secret War project my wife was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A substitute doctor decided on a whim to take a chest x-ray because her allergy medication was not working. He found an abnormally large growth between her heart and left lung. It was so large that it had flattened the left lung to one tenth capacity, the right to two thirds, and the pressure on her heart was causing her to come dangerously close to cardiac arrest. In a whirlwind that so swept us up in activity that it wasn’t until weeks later that we had time to process what was going on and what the possible outcomes were. I take that as a blessing because if I had been able to comprehend I would have probably fallen to pieces. After nearly a year of treatment she was declared in remission for eleven months and it was somewhere in this time that most of my part of Terrors was written. Between having our lives disrupted with cancer, raising two children, a custody battle with my ex-wife, trying to write, working full time life was quite stressful. However, Jessi and I decided that this was not enough stress and moved halfway across the country, because that is what you do when things are crazy. At this point you may be saying to yourself, “Self, how in tarnation did he get anything written?” Self would be likely to reply, “I bet he didn’t get much sleep.” I would have to admit that Self hit the nail on the head. There were several mornings when Jessi would come into the study finding me hunched over the keyboard with bulging eyes red and dry lips being licked constantly in a most batrachian manner and ask me if I was ready for work. The statement was often met with questions like, “Huh, what? The sun is up?” and as the project progressed, “Why big sky ball burn eyes?” However, the constant encouragement from Josh, Reuben, and Lynn saw me through, as well as my wife entering remission after some cutting edge treatments. We finished the project and of that I was incredibly proud, but then we won a Silver ENnie! Nope, I haven’t quit grinning. Yep, I keep on writing.