I made a commitment to update my blog every single day for the next 23 days and then basically immediately got the most sick that anyone can be without having to go to the hospital. Do you not believe me? You DO believe me? And you don't want me to tell you the most intimate details of my illness because you think that might be gross? Well, too bad, you. I'll proudly have you know that my sinus infection was so bad that sheets of snot started to come out of my eyes, I got two inner ear infections, and all the capillaries in my nose burst so I'm constantly bleeding out of my nostrils. Yeah. It was that bad.
But today I got out of bed (which I think was very brave of me, given that I look like a monster from a 1950s-era cult horror movie) and decided that it was time to draw some cats.
Three years ago* I started a literary journal because no one would publish my work and so I figured I'd just have to publish my own work. Yes, that is a narcissistic solution to a pretty common problem. But it actually worked pretty well because now I get my work published in a lot of other places, and I'll bet a lot of the reason is because of this little literary journal that eventually got a little bit bigger.**
The literary journal is called Neutrons Protons. I named it that because when I was 15 and wrote every day on my very own LiveJournal, I would click around on the LiveJournal home site and develop crushes on waifish girls I'd never know or meet who also had LiveJournals. This was like Tumblr for people who needed it in 2004. There was one girl who was constantly giving her posts names I thought were soooo poetic. "Soap and arithmetic." "The woman declines to say." "Warm laundry." ("Warm Laundry" was, incidentally, my AIM screen name in 2004.) And, you guessed it, she named a section in her LiveJournal "Neutrons Protons" and I thought it was the most beautiful set of words together a human being could conjure. Since then (2004! THIS WAS 2004!) I've named everything (evvvveerrrrryyyyttthhhiiiiinggg) computer-related "neutrons protons." It is my user name on every single website where you need to log in. And so, obviously, a literary magazine I'd bleed into and sweat over and spend thousands of dollars on for no real payoff would have to be named "Neutrons Protons," too. Obviously.
A few years ago I started drawing cats to go with all the articles, and it's taken a lot of the pressure away. For the first year, I tried to switch up the aesthetic of my illustrations every month, but my concepts never actualized the way I wanted them to. Cats are always exactly perfect. I always feel joy when I open the website because there are cats all fucking over it. Here are the three I drew today:
I used to have to beg my friends to submit stuff to this journal; now we regularly get quite a few unsolicited submissions (which are mostly terrible — but there are diamonds in the rough), so the only thing that keeps me from publishing regularly is my inability to draw cats fast enough. But oh well. I like Neutrons Protons and I hope it never ends. It's a pet project (pun intended) that I continue to stand behind. It occupies a quirky and weird corner of the internet.
And oh yeah — I said "we" get quite a few submissions. There are four people who, for no money at all, read through the submissions and write long comments about them. They are all four geniuses. I have no idea why they continue to do this on a daily basis for absolutely no money or fame. It makes me believe that there must be some good in the world after all.
* I can't believe it's been three years. Three years is the length of the life of an average hamster. It is a toddler. It is a human person that can make semi-coherent conversation.
** It helps to publish all the time. When you're publishing all the time, you get better because you practice. When you're worrying about getting something published, you're not working on the next thing, and you're not improving as quickly. I fundamentally believe this. So I was lucky to say stuff like "I published my piece in a 'journal'," when at the time I meant "I published my piece in a 'glorified blog.'" It made me feel better about myself.