The experience above was strangely reminiscent of my 'Goddess' experience that saved my life. That too occurred in a strange, timeless, dark space. But the feeling of whatever invaded my life and forced me to draw Unicorn Jelly was not at all the same sort of creature. The Muse was cold, distant, and devoid of patience, mercy or sympathy for my situation. I always, always felt a vague disappointment with me, and after each glimpse, each 'flash' as I called them, of what it was that I was supposed to be transcribing, I understood that disappointment, and felt it myself.
I did not just get glimpses at roughly 2:30 in the afternoon each day, though that was the most powerful moment of all...I also got brief review flashes when I was actually drawing. They were not all-consuming sensations of floating in a void...just a flash of what I was supposed to be doing, in my mind, like an after-image, or a strong memory of what I had seen earlier in the day. These kept me on track, more or less.
An odd thing about the big mid-day flashes...they were absolutely one-shot, and one shot only. That kind of intense experience was granted me once, and once only. I could not get a repeat...even if I needed one, and in some cases, I desperately did. I didn't know they were one-shot events at first. I learned it the hard way.
The 'flashes' shown above came like a little seizure, which I suppose they might have been, and I could feel them building until they happened, like a discharge. I found I could put them off, a little, and worse, I found I could call them to happen, at least sometimes. This was where I found out they were one-time only.
At one point in doing the comic, I became afraid that the whole process was insane (which, arguably, it was) and that there was no way that it could ever produce a cogent story. The very idea of a meaningful, epic, multi-generational story coming out of the blue without effort or any thought was impossible for me to accept. So I...sort of emotionally demanded to have proof. I demanded to see parts of the ending, which was so very far away at the time that it was beyond my imagination as to how any of this could all be tied together at all. I was afraid because my fanbase was building, and I had realized with horror how awful it would be if there...was no ending, no payoff, no meaning, and the whole thing was just empty.
I got my demand. I got several flashes of parts of the very end of the story, and they knocked my socks off, and I relaxed and decided to trust this inexplicable process, and just let my hands do their automatic cartooning, to hell with reason and sense.
When the end came, however, there were no more flashes. I had used them all up. They were one time only, each, and no repeats. I hadn't bothered to write down any of what I saw back when, years in the past, of the ending, so I had to struggle very hard to cobble the ending together as best I could from half-forgotten memories. I was foolish, thinking I didn't have to bother, that such a miracle would just be at my service forever.
Important lesson, folks; if you ever are part of a mirable event....you can safely soak in it while it happens, it's solid, it can be trusted while it's happening, BUT....never for an instant imagine it will last forever. Whatever such things are, they come and they go at their own fairy whim. Never take them for granted, even if you have had many before. Each new phenomenon is a special thing, a unique wonderment. Treat them accordingly.
What was that infinite scroll hanging in the void like?
It didn't look like paper, not like paper I would know. It was thin, I suppose, and it had a smooth surface. The lines on it were incredible...they reminded me of superior calligraphic penmanship from a hundred years ago. The ink was sort of brownish. The lines went thick and thin and were fine as the lines on a dollar bill, like fime engraving work. The style was...it was like Alphonse Mucha mixed with dollar bill engraving, mixed with fine Chinese brushwork and design, all mixed together. I couldn't draw like that, I've never seen anyone draw like that, I can't even express how fine it was....the best I could do was to scribble vaguely manga-like toons to represent a wonder beyond my capacity. No wonder the Muse was direly unimpressed with me.
Why me? I have always suspected that it was a matter of some odd necessity on the part of the Muse. Perhaps, in my extremely broken state I was 'open' to influence, to possession. Perhaps she was on a time limit in some manner, and had to take what she could get. I always felt she wanted better than me, I just got the job for some reason. I feel convinced that if she could have chosen someone else to draw her story, the story of Unicorn Jelly, she would have picked anyone else, in an instant. But....she got stuck with me, and I... angry, resentful, in the middle of a nervous breakdown, unable to function, I got stuck with her.
How crazy was I back then? Very. You hear about people having nervous breakdowns, but you never imagine it can happen to you, or that if it did, it would be real. Oh, it's real, all right. Everything goes kaput, and you are not good for anything, and you aren't yourself, and you are lost and it sucks and it hurts and it is...basically temporarily losing your mind, and definately your way. Breakdowns are very real. I don't know what they are, but...they really, really mess a person up. I just thought...it could never happen to me, because I was too strong.
When the Muse left, she never said thank you, never gave me any feeling of warmth or gratitude or anything. I was just a means to an end, and the fact that I benefited somewhat, that the experience got me out of my breakdown funk by making me too busy to suffer, was irrelevant.
After Unicorn Jelly was over, I was exhausted. I absolutely could not stand to draw another thing. I rested, but I also gradually fell back into a portion of the bitter anger that caused my breakdown in the first place. I hadn't learned enough from my Muse experience. Something had to give.
It was my heart. Being heartbroken is true.
On September 12th, 2004, I had a heart attack at the age of 44. It was most likely a spasm of a malformed artery in my heart, it clamped down for 24 hours, costing me 1 to 2% of my heart tissue. I learned my lesson, finally, and let go of chasing software promises forever.
Now, I cartoon, and I am glad of it.
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