Two Years Of Borrowed Time & I’m Still Not Dead

I’d love to write a lot of inspirational entries about still being alive but Buffy the Vampire Slayer was right when she said, ‘The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.’ It’s also the busiest. I’ve been so busy continuing to be alive, I haven’t had time to wax rhapsodic about continuing to be alive.

That my sound sarcastic but in truth, I wish I could. I wish I could tell you that every glitch and inconvenience, every little (and not so little) ache and pain, every boring chore and utterly grey day is a reminder that it’s still great to be alive and to know that I’m going to be alive for some indefinite period of time.

Cancer and I have reached a stand-off that puts it in the background of my life. In fact, it’s so much in the background that I really do forget I have it. Now that Harley Quinn: Mad Love has come out from Titan Books I’ve been doing some interviews and the topic of cancer just doesn’t come up. (The Topic of Cancer—as opposed to The Tropic of Cancer; there’s a story in there somewhere and Henry Miller would probably plotz).

While I’m self-promoting, the prequel novel to the movie Alita Battle Angel is out, too: Alita Battle Angel: Iron City is available in paperback or eBook, also from Titan. Alita Battle Angel the movie will be released 14 February 2019, which when the novelisation–also written by me–will be available. Last year at this time, I had finished the novelisation and was busy with the prequel. Just after I turned it in, I went to work on Harley Quinn: Mad Love, in collaboration with Harley’s co-creator (and wonderful human being), Paul Dini. It was a good, happy time that kept me too busy to think much about having cancer.

it also kept me too busy to do much else–I got up, wrote till I dropped, then got up the next morning and did it again. But it was great to know that even in my mid-sixties, I can do that—I’m not too tired or out of touch to write like a demon. And I can fill my mind with something a million miles away from cancer. It also reminded me how much I love writing.

People have asked me why I do novelisations and media tie-ins, why I don’t just concentrate on my own work and try to achieve high art. And it’s like this: high art is wonderful and everyone should expose themselves to it. But after people come home from the museums or the symphony, after they do the required reading, when they’re done elevating their intellects and their spirit, they turn to popular culture to relax and that’s where it’s crucial to have quality. People admire high art but they take their cues from popular culture. There’s a book called Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Star Trek (preceded by Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten) and that’s really not a joke.

Forty-some years ago, I went to a talk Gene Roddenberry gave in Kansas City, about his experiences with the Star Trek (original recipe, of course). He mentioned going into a bar in the American Deep South, which, in the late 1960s, wasn’t always safe for a man with long hair. A man sitting next to him at the bar struck up a conversation with him and asked him if he’d ever seen Star Trek. Roddenberry admitted he might have caught a few episodes. The man said, “You see all kinds of people working together and getting along together on that show. It’s not real, it’s a TV show, but when you see that, you see it could be that way. We could all work together and get along with each other.”

Now, that’s not word-for-word, I’m paraphrasing but that was the gist and I’ve never forgotten it. It stuck with me because it demonstrated the pervasiveness of popular culture, what a profound effect it has. People take their cues from it, even set their moral compasses by it. And since that’s the case, I’m more than happy to contribute to it.

I’m still doing my own, original work, too. And I’m still alive. Two years of borrow/reclaimed time so far and it’s still a party every day. Some days the party isn’t very noisy and we run out of party hats. But it’s still a party. ‘Getting older’ is another way of saying ‘still alive.’ And while we live, let us live. Even when the colour scheme for every day is dull grey and it’s cold and damp: every day above ground is a good one. There’s always good news, even if it’s only that there was no bad news.

That may sound like it’s setting the bar very low, but it isn’t. Not around this house.

14 thoughts on “Two Years Of Borrowed Time & I’m Still Not Dead

  1. Thank you for that great defense of popular culture! As a school librarian (and lover of graphic novels & childhood comic book reader), I am telling the kids that whatever you like to read is fine – don’t let people tell you anything different. I have a diverse collection (in every sense of that word) and happy to recommend books, but I want them to not feel judged or underestimated because of the genre they read.

    • When my son was little, his father and I took him out every Saturday to play video games at the mall, and then to bookstores. We told him that while we couldn’t give him every toy he wanted, he could have any book he wanted.

      There is room in everyone’s life for a wide range of things, from the Sistine Chapel to Batman, from the complete works of Shakespeare to 101 Jokes for the John, from Citizen Kane to the Three Stooges, and all the stops in between.

  2. Hear, hear! The point of surviving cancer is to live! Not to go around in fear of cancer. I’m so glad you’re having such a life. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • Thanks so much. Sometimes I feel amazed that it was around this time in 2014 that I had to tell my son I had maybe two years, and then a year later, I was able to tell him that It looked like I’d be around for a lot longer than that. Life can turn on a dime.

      • Wow, that must have been hard. I was fantastically lucky: My son and his family happened to be visiting the week I went in for the diagnosis, and he was in the exam room with me and the oncologist. I actually thought I was going to be told it wasn’t cancer. Oops. My son works at a company that makes software that guides the radiological equipment that treats cancer, so he was very knowledgeable about some of the parts I didn’t quite grok through the shock. I am so, so lucky in so many ways.

      • I’m lucky, too. Old Eternal (my late mother, for anyone who came in late) departed this plane right around this time in 2012, so my only other blood relative (the only one I know of, anyway) is my son (although as we all know, family isn’t just a matter of blood).

        Rob has been wonderfully supportive, although I try not to lean on him too much. Fortunately, my husband is, well, perfect. Old Eternal once said, ‘The rocks in his head fit the holes in yours.’ She was only half-joking but in truth, it’s not a bad description of compatibility. 😉

      • I remember your writing about Old Eternal! I was quite surprised that she wasn’t immortal! And sad for your loss.

  3. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 12/7/18 Baby, It’s Scrolled Outside | File 770

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