Life, Business and Bad News

In the last few weeks it seems my world has gotten smaller in almost every sense. It started when my wife’s health took a hit and she was diagnosed with not one, but two serious conditions, one of which was cancer. This kind of news will make everything else seem unimportant, all of a sudden. The fact that I lost my mom to cancer in May is probably not helping any.

The good news is that they caught it super early, and that the doctors are expecting a full recovery from the cancer part. There’s still the other issue of course, which will require surgery and several weeks of recovery. The ugly kind, where they give you hardcore meds just to deal with it. Right now, we are both mentally and physically preparing for what’s ahead.

Since we are both independent businesses owners, this situation has another effect on us – neither one is working much, while the bills keep piling up. This is added stress that we really don’t need. We are not on the brink of starvation or anything like that, but we are definitely feeling the crunch. Which is what led me to write this post.

If you are a freelancer or a one-man band, do yourself this favor: cover your bases in case of an emergency. Get health insurance. Let me repeat that. Get. Health. Insurance. As an independent, insurance is expensive and if you’re bootstrapping it is easy to tell yourself you’ll add it later. Don’t. Bite the bullet and pay the man. Cancer doesn’t wait until you’re ready.

You’ll want a support network. We have had daily messages from friends and family, checking in and offering help and encouragement. This support is crucial, especially if you’d like to try and stay positive.

Anybody working for themselves will be used to being immersed in the work, and powering through to get the job done. You may even enjoy it. But when illness hits the household, that is taken away. Focus shifts, and staying on top of business quickly fades into the background. It has to. If you can, put a little aside for a rainy day. You might even look into getting a backup in place, if you have clients who need regular pampering or can’t be rescheduled.

Whatever you do, don’t just sit there thinking it will happen to someone else. It’s not a gamble worth taking.

Festering Ideas and Fantasy Fun

The following is from my notes to “The Whale Omen” – a fantasy roleplaying adventure based off of an older project – my very first attempt at writing a novel, when I was still but a young and innocent teenager. That novel was in itself inspired by an experimental gaming campaign I co-ran with a friend.

I love how ideas can sit and fester for years, blend with other ideas and influences, and come back out looking all new and shiny again.

The reason it came back, was that I started reading the excellent fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R. R. Martin. That made me think of the novel I had written (which I am not ashamed to say, barely deserves even getting mentioned in the same paragraph as mr. Martin’s epic series), which in turn inspired me to want to rewrite it now, 15+ years later. The only thing is, I’m already not writing one novel.

Still, I could not shake it. So, I turned it into a gaming adventure once more, which may yet inspire even further writing later.

The point I’m making is this: the good ideas can be recycled, transmuted and disguised many times over the years. The trick is to keep working with it, or at least that’s my theory.

The Whale Omen Intro

“The Whale Omen” is fantasy with a nordic medieval flavor. The characters are from a clan at the top of Rockbite Bay in the far and barren north, a village of whalers. Magic exists in this world but is rare and regarded with fear and suspicion. The characters are skilled but normal people with a personal tie to this village; it is their home. Once coastal raiders, the people here now catch whales and do trade instead, and live longer, happier lives for it.

Every spring, whales in great numbers pass by and the whalers go out with nets and harpoons. The villagers use everything from their catch. But this year is different. The whales came late, and when they arrived, they were all dead. Bloated, foul smelling carcasses floated past the village for three days.

Many think it is an omen, and the survival of the village is at stake. No whales means nothing to trade but a few sheep and barrels of salted herring. Not enough.

Two Danish Songs About Drinking

I’m going through my musical archives and it occurred to me that I had two related songs, in both theme and style, about getting drunk. I mean really drunk, but in a good way. So I turned a photo I already had into a cover, called it an “album” and put it on Bandcamp.

The lyrics are in Danish, and the first song – “Midnatswaltz” [Midnight Waltz] – is about that feeling of letting the booze guide you – maybe to do a little dance, maybe something even more stupid. The second track – “Vodka” – is a celebration of one of my personal favorite drinks: vodka on the rocks. If the vodka is good, you don’t need anything else.

Music is something I’ve only ever made for fun. And because I believe dabbling in more fields than one increases overall inspiration. Though I used to be in bands, play the occasional gig and write a lot more than I do now, it was never with the ambition of turning it into a professional careeer. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes miss performing in front of a live audience. Maybe some day…

If you like the music, the 2-song album is only $1.35.

Update: the mini album is now also available in iTunes and most other sellers of digital music.