A continuance of my remembrance of K. Michael Crawford. Part One is Here
I told you about how we first met but we only stayed 'in touch', if it could be called that, through awareness of each other on Facebook for probably the next two years. Flush with the earnings from my last movie, I set out to make a bazillion mistakes in self-publishing. I tentatively forayed into vending at shows (I made mistakes there, too). I also ran out of dough in practically no time. I had to stop work on the YA novel to freelance, and with that I made another thousand mistakes. Life doesn't give you a guidebook on how to be Your Own Person.
I don't think I bothered K. much during those struggling times. Via Facebook, I knew she was speeding off to whatever event and location possible, flying off to everywhere to tout her books. And when she wasn't doing that, she was making a book video, working on more books, teaching a workshop or class, making more illustrations . . . as a fellow creator, I admired her determined energy! :)
But when I rose from my last, personal fiasco in freelancing and tried to figure out how to keep going, I finally formed Real, pertinent questions. Therefore I emailed K. the occasional Very Important Question.
In retrospect, she really was a mentor, though I didn't want to demand on her time, so what I got from her was just enough. Not only was her work honestly imaginative, fun, delightful, and full of wonder, but it was useful to the reader. Her illustrations fulfilled the effect of inspiring imagination, and that was what was needed. K., with her outlook of always making Adventure and Magic was actually quite practical and called things as they were.
And because I was Failing constantly at freelancing, I asked: Why is this happening?
To which K. said: Well Elizabeth, what you're doing is probably not what you're meant to do!
She was right. I quit all the freelancing. And that's when I looted my retirement fund.
K. and others like her---self-publishing, hustling, and always on the move to get their books into people's hands---set an example for me on what Passion, Drive, and Commitment were. I had dinner at Wondercon 2012 with K. and her friends and over a dimly lit yet excellent meal in Anaheim, saw more of what my future could be. As soon as I grew bigger I was going to catch up to the big kids on their bikes and find Me.
I also made a decision that night that really was all K.'s doing, though I don't know if I ever told her that: To become more of the new Me, I would start wearing a hat.
K. had her explorer's hat at shows. It made her memorable and recognisable and she knew it. What if I wore a hat? And it really wasn't as silly a question as it should have sounded to 'grown up' me. I was a creator now, a story-maker. I will wear a hat too because I really wanted to!
So I bought my dream hat, a Christys' of London Ladies English Riding Hat (black).
And suddenly I was on the light spectrum path shooting me from here to the other end of the galaxy. I began finding the clothes that would be my Gothic, steampunk look to go with my Gothic, steampunk books, which was what I ended up writing, The Dark Victorian series, after putting the troublesome YA novel on a backburner. I worked on creating my Brand, on being that person who was different and unexpected on the convention floors yet still had Something people were seeking, and often didn't know they were seeking. I'm still working at it.
That was the only dinner, it would turn out, that I would get to enjoy with K. She was located on the East coast, I was out west, and though I always expected to see her on the con circuit again (and counted on it), she could not always come out this way. In 2012, I think she did 60 different shows and by end of the year she was flat on her face. By then she'd published four beautiful activity books, which you see pictured above and can get at Amazon, one colouring book, One Whimsical Zoofari, offered at her site (her site now long taken down, right after her death), and then she was off and running working diligently on her latest and as it would turn out, her last project, "How to Create Your Own Comic Book!", a 6-video set with workbook.
And she got that done, and it's Solid. The workbook is beautiful. This was how kick-ass K. was. It looked like something that may have existed, start to finish, in her head for several years, because it's too complete, too perfect as an effective lesson plan. I can't think on what time frame that took her to create the entire project, perhaps four-six months? And thus, she had something new to take to the conventions. But a six-dvd set with workbook was not something easy to plug into Amazon's system, for example. K didn't have time for that and that's why you can't get the set now, especially with her site, Happily Ever Art, down (and I believe it's down for good).
Her mom was super thoughtful enough to send me the workbook and dvd set (of what was left in K's stock) to me soon after K's death. And I'll talk about that next.
All the best,