[photo credit Nate Grigg via Flickr Creative Commons]
I’ve always had a weird relationship with Thank You.
I say it all the time when someone gives me something or does something for me. I say it to cashiers and servers, and pretty much anyone who has to deal with customers all day long. And I say it to people who hold the door open for me or my family, because I’m not a monster, *unlike some assholes who don’t thank me or my son for holding the door open! [*A Worst Show Ever reference]
In other words, I say thank you when I’m supposed to.
But I have a hard time saying it to people when it’s not expected.
Do you know what I mean?
Like an out of the blue, “Hey, thank you for being a friend.” (Great, now I’ve got the Golden Girls theme song running through my head.)
Or, “Thank you for being awesome.”
Or, “Thank you for not sucking as much as almost everyone else!”
Or any other number of acknowledgements to the people who generally make life better in some way or another.
And I’ve been thinking about this as Thanksgiving approaches. I want to show my gratitude more to family, friends, co-workers, or even people out there who do things that bring joy into my life in some way.
Because, as I stated before, humanity can really suck. And we ought to show appreciation to those who make it suck less.
I’ve often wondered why I have trouble expressing something as simple as Thank You, and I think a big part of it (for me) is that saying thank you is an admission that I need someone. Or, in some cases, an admission of something I lacked the ability to do myself.
And I don’t like needing people for anything.
I like to think I’m self-reliant!
But the truth is we ALL need others.
Well, most of us.
Probably not those mountain men who can take down a bear with a single arrow, and not even need a bow!
Those guys need nothing!
But the rest of us probably do.
Yes, I could write on my own, but the words wouldn’t be nearly as good as Sean makes them.
I could also draw on my own, but what good are books or comics if nobody is there to read them?
I certainly couldn’t raise my child on my own. Not a healthy child who knows what a vegetable looks like, anyway! And I think we can all thank my wife for ensuring that my son comes out at least halfway normal!
I need to start being a bit more vocal in my gratitude.
Rather than look back and wallow in what I’ve done wrong, I’d rather look forward and do things differently.
So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to say a few thank yous.
I realize that in even starting this list, I’m going to leave out some people and probably offend them. And for that I apologize.
If you didn’t make the list, try harder next year.
Ha! I kid.
Seriously, though, you could try harder.
Additionally, I’m not going to mention some [REDACTED] people in my personal life because I try to keep my personal [REDACTED] and public lives separate.
Also, this list isn’t a strict hierarchy, it’s merely the most sensible flow for this post.
Still, if you find yourself at the bottom of the list, you could maybe try harder next year!
Also, if you don’t care to read on, I won’t be offended. This is more or less like album liner notes, important to me and the people in them, but not much to anyone else. It’s not like I’m Tool or some cool band, slipping in arcane references to Mother Ayahuasca and shit.
THANK YOU TO:
Our Readers, listeners, and community — I’m putting you first because you make my career possible. Without you, I’m still that lonely zit-faced dork in the back of the class dreaming of the day I’d write for someone, anyone. Thank you for buying our books, reviewing our books, listening to our podcasts, and being part of our community (whether podcast listeners, Smarter Artists, or Stone Table members), you all exemplify the good side of indie publishing, writing communities, and online education. There are many whom I’ve come to know over the years via email or chat during the podcasts, far too many to name here, and it’s awesome and humbling to have you care about the things we do. Given the sheer amount of cool shit out there in the world, THANK YOU for liking our cool shit!
My Father — Thank you for always working so hard and sacrificing so much to give us a roof over our heads, food in our tummies, and clothes on our back. And for teaching me what it means to be a man, and what it means to be selfless, honest, and good. I hope to be even half the man you are! Though, physically, I’ve eaten enough cookies to be twice the man you are in circumference.
My Mother — Thank you for showing me kindness and getting me interested in art early on as a child. I still remember looking through your art books wishing I could draw as well as you, and doing my best imitation of you. Thank you (and Dad) also for the spirit of endless curiosity.
My Brother — Thank you for being there all these years, and for the fun, dark-humored, cynical conversations. And for always making me look fatter by standing next to you. Jerk!
My Wife — Thank you for your friendship, kindness, love, and … patience in allowing me to pursue my art. And for being a much better example for our son than I could ever be. You might not know how to load a dishwasher correctly (spoiler alert: plastic on top!), but you’re awesome at the important things, and a way better parker than I’ll ever be. Thank you for making a family with me.
My Son — Thank you for making me less cynical and allowing me to see the world through your eyes. And here, I expect readers to be like, “Wait, you mean you were WORSE?” And thank you for your kindness, enthusiasm, your humor, your hard work, and for all the times we hang out together no matter if we’re playing a sport, reading, or just watching TV. And thank you for teaching me even more of what it means to be a father.
[REDACTED BEST FRIEND] — Thank you for always being there, for being one of the funniest people I know, and for just “getting me” all these years. It’s great to be able to pick up the phone and talk to you at any time and not have to worry that I’ll say something stupid, because we’ve seen one another at our most stupidest!
[REDACTED OTHER FRIENDS] — We don’t talk as much, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. Thank you for being there, and for being you, and not being pissy when the real world gets in the way of us talking more.
Sean — Thank you for “stealing” my domain name and starting this incredible journey we’re on. Thank you for being exactly the sort of positive, honest person I wasn’t sure existed anymore outside of the few I’ve befriended and/or married. Your creativity knows no bounds, and it’s an honor to work with you and be your friend every day for the past eight years! You aren’t just the most loyal, honest guys I know, but you’re a fucking visionary. Truly a visionary. But more than that, you’re family.
Cindy (Sean’s wife) — Thank you. Without your belief and support of Sean’s dream of writing, and your kindness to me and my family, we wouldn’t be where we are today. You’re an amazing person who has gone through a lot and sacrificed a lot. I’m thrilled that you and Sean have one another. You all aren’t just perfect together, but you make so many of us feel like your extended family.
Johnny — Thank you for making SPP happen. When Sean first came to me and said you wanted to do a podcast, I was like, “What? Fuck that Johnny 1.0 guy!” I’ve never been so glad to be so wrong about someone. You were the missing ingredient in something I didn’t even know I wanted, and I love how the three of us work together. You’re not just a great friend, but you have one of the sharpest minds and wits of anyone I know. And…those fucking abs!
Robin (Johnny’s wife) — Thank you for all that you’ve done since joining Sterling & Stone. You’ve made a large impact in a very short amount of time, and I look forward to seeing you more next year.
Jason — Thank you for being the catalyst to get me writing again back in 2005, for helping me grow as a writer, and for being a great friend all these years. You’re one of the funniest, most intelligent people I know. And the only person I know who has a darker sense of humor than me. I look forward to seeing what art you put into the world when you take some time for your writing!
Lori — Thank you for hiring Sean and I back in the early days. You made a lot of things possible and gave us a stability to build our careers as authors without worrying about chasing down freelance work. But more than that, thank you for being such an inspiration with your determination, your take-no-shit attitude, and your entertaining conversations. You also might be the only person with more Idea Squirrels than Sean, and I love that about you!
Amy — Thank you for helping Sterling & Stone be more than a hamster wheel, a bottle of Mountain Dew, and a million ideas! You’ve truly helped us shape the company, and the Smarter Artist Summit community, and everything else we do, into something we can be proud to be part of. Thanks for also being so funny and so much fun to hang out with on the few occasions we’ve been together.
Christine — Thank you for coming along when you did, proving that sometimes things happen for a reason, and that the good guys (and girls) sometimes DO win! Not usually, of course. Evil almost ALWAYS wins. But sometimes! You’re a talented writer who I look forward to seeing take on the fiction world.
Maya, Tammi, Clark, Audra, Heather, Seth — I don’t mean to shortchange you all by lumping you into one Thank You, but I’m thinking of the readers who probably don’t want to read a detailed list of everyone we work with. At any rate, thank you for being awesome people who were are lucky to work with, and to those of you I’ve talked with at any length of time, thank you for the conversation.
Carl — Thank you to my Australian brother from another mother. You’ve got some of the funniest stories I’ve heard anyone tell. I love our conversations about geeky stuff, storytelling, and even about cricket. I mean, you’re wrong about a lot of shit, especially with your views of American sports being inferior, but someday you’ll see the light. I look forward to meeting you someday, but you’ve got to fly to the U.S. I am not taking a nine-thousand hour flight to Australia!
John — Thank you for the great conversations over the years. One of the most honest people I know, and though we share different beliefs, you’ve never been disrespectful or dismissive of mine. I value that more than you know. Also enjoy our conversations about art, tech, and craft.
Danielle — Thank you for not only the cool gifts you gave me at the Smarter Artist Summit, but for the awesome email exchanges and advice on dealing with anxiety and other stuff. I appreciate you taking the time to care, and your encouragement to continue The Walking Dave.
All my other online friends/acquaintances — Thank you to all the people who chat with me online, leave comments, tweet stuff, and generally make my job so much more fun that it has any right to be.
Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo — Thank you all for providing a platform for us indie authors to not only reach our own audience, but to cultivate our own audience. Without e-books, I’m not sure what I’d be doing, but I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable doing it. Special shout-outs to Mark from Kobo and Dan from Draft2Digital for helping so many indie authors get their books to more readers. You guys are truly doing some awesome stuff!
Stephen King, Clive Barker, Charles Schulz, Bill Watterson, Dean Koontz, Stephan Pastis, and Berkeley Breathed — I could do a post on each of these people, but in the interest of space, one big blanket thank you for creating such wonderful worlds for me to get lost in. You provided escape when the real world was just too much to bear, whether through cathartic fiction or laughs. And you made me want to do the same for my readers. Thank you for showing me the way.
This last part is an incomplete list of thank yous to people and things that have given me some joy this year. In the interest of brevity, I won’t do a whole thing on each.
Thank you to: Jim Sterling’s Jimquisition podcast, Westworld, Orphan Black, Mr. Robot, Austin Kleon, Blake Crouch, A Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Dishonored, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Firewatch, Inside, and a host of other games and TV shows that provided escape from the day-to-day bustle.
And again, to anyone I’ve left anyone off, thank you for understanding.