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2020 Retrospective - The Year of Fire - Patreon, Friendship, Reality & Writing · 10:14pm Dec 27th, 2020

New version of Amber Spark by KatChan! Beautiful isn't it?

Hi friends. Happy Hearth’s Warming. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Happy New Year. And everything else!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A lot of life has happened in the last few months. 

Now, this blog has two purposes. As a Retrospective for 2020 (after a fashion), but more importantly, to address those who are currently donating to my Patreon. I hope everyone else will forgive me for starting with my Patreon. There are some things that need to be dealt with. 

Patreon: Status Update

First of all, I apologize for the lack of any update for last month. Here’s where things currently stand. First, Painted succeeded in landing her new degree (yay!), which should hopefully soon turn into new job opportunities for her. While she’s still struggling a little (the latest COVID-19 outbreak has damaged some options here), for the most part, things are okay there. 

As for me, well, most of you know that hunting for a new job is one of the most exhausting things imaginable. I’ve had a few attempts and even a few interviews, but none of them have gone anywhere. The truth is, I haven’t been working very hard at this. With what’s going on in my life lately, it’s been a constant struggle to actually get out of bed in the morning (my depression’s been that bad). Therefore, there’s not a lot to report. The only excuse I have is that things have gotten that bad for me personally for me to have the energy. It’s a terrible reason, but I need to be honest with you all.

My father’s extra support has ended, but that’s not the end of the world. We were still able to do Christmas without any serious hardships or anything. In fact, that’s the key point I want to get across.

When I first started my current Patreon drive, it was to help us get the house we’re currently living in. Then, it was there to help support us in this house. I promised everyone that I would tell you when that support should end. 

Frankly, I should have told you last month, but a lot of things happened and this wasn’t really a priority. I know, that sounds terrible and I hope you can forgive me. I’ll get into what happened more in a bit.

So, here’s the long and the short of it: we’re doing so-so. Things are still rough in a lot of areas, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s no different than it is for most people. What I’m trying to say is that if you’re donating to my Patreon to support my family and me during our crisis, please feel free to stop at any time. 

I can’t pretend it’s all over. No one will believe me if I try and sell that. But the whole ‘we’re in desperate need of immediate help’ thing needs to stop. In truth, I worry that I’ve abused a lot of people’s trust and generosity.

I know some people will roll their eyes at me for worrying about this, but this year, I did get a letter from someone who expressed concerns about me asking for help. In that case, they were concerned that I was attempting to get ready for EFNW 2020 while being in difficult financial straits. They thought I was being irresponsible and greedy. I’m not sure I fully agree with that, but I can see why they’d come to that conclusion.

I don’t know. I want to be able to use funds to do things that are important, be it helping with rent or getting to spend time with my closest friends. But I also want to be able to have fun, too? The whole thing is giving me more guilt and confusion than I can handle.

In the end, I don’t really trust myself to make the call for you, so I’ll just present the information I can and let you make the decision.

Please feel no obligation to continue supporting me on Patreon. While I’m not going to be closing it down, also please feel no guilt in whatever you decide to do. Drop support, lessen support, we’ll survive. Thank you for your help.

You can adjust your support here.

And that’s it. I can babble about this for another fifty pages, but I’ve already done enough. It’s time to just be done with it and move on.


There’s a reason I’ve gone silent this year. And if I sound annoyed, it’s because I’m annoyed at myself. I’ve tried writing some version of this probably half a dozen times, with varying levels of openness. But the truth of the matter is that even if I’ve been upfront and honest about my mental health problems, there are a lot of things that have happened this year that involve other people.

I’m not cool with telling the world about things that went horribly wrong with people you may know or be friends with. Even if you don’t… well, it’s not right. They deserve better. 

Let me give you a summary of the summary.

“Massive relationship problems (both friends and family), a devastating death in the family, serious career issues for both Painted and me, threats to my safety (two fires and a minor flood), extreme depression, lost my house, moved, suicidal thoughts worse than during the Quiet War, a lot of rejection regarding me being trans, plus, you know, bucking COVID…”

The original version of that was twice as long. And I wasn’t making stuff up. 

The thing is, some stuff happened where I’m legitimately scared to be open and honest anymore. I got burned. And I now have this piece of myself that’s utterly convinced that if I talk about my problems too openly, people will walk away from me because they don’t want to deal with it, they have too much going on themselves or they just don’t know what to say. 

So I’m even second-guessing what I’m writing here. There are still people out there I want to rebuild with. People I miss terribly. People I’m waiting to hear back from (and I’m going to be patient and let those people take as long as they need, because they deserve it). 

I’m scared. I really am. And there’s a lot of things that are my fault. All I’m hoping is that I can eventually be forgiven for those mistakes. 

I also have realized I wrote a lot about this in “A Cry for Help: The Curse of the Hurricane.” Still needs to be said again.

Beyond 2020

I haven’t written, really written since February. I’ve edited. I’ve screwed around with super short stories that I just wander away from after a day. 

I’m actually doing a little better these days. Medication has stabilized me, more or less. Ebon Quill was kind enough to put me up for a week in Albuquerque, where I got to visit with him, Sun Sage, and a good friend of mine by the name of Blue Nova, plus a few others. Heck, the day after Christmas, I spent a whole day with the family playing Mario Kart 8 on the Switch and we all had a lot of fun. 

But I don’t have a clue what the future holds. I know most of us are like that, but things are pretty scary for me. I legitimately don’t even know what my family life is going to look like a year from now, or even if I’m going to have one (and I’m not just talking about the trans thing). Job? No idea. I doubt my dreams of becoming a game designer are coming true anytime soon. 

So yeah, writing? I’ve been talking about Clear Skies forever. There are some edits I want to make that actually involve character and plot presentation (IE, not quick changes). I want to get it out eventually, but this stuff isn't easy. And yes, I know that most of you are going to say it’s okay for me not to have produced anything. And you’re right.

Still feels kinda sucky though. I miss writing. I’m going to be trying a lot this week (I finally have a week off, though I do have to tank the kids while Painted’s at work, so who knows what I’ll be able to pull off?)

I do have another pony project I’m messing with, but a lot of it is me processing stuff. We’ll see what happens there.

Remember when we first all ended up at home and thought “finally, I can get some stuff done?”

HA! We were idiots. At least, I was.


I’m really not sure what else to say. I’m scared of the future. I don’t think that the things that began in 2020 are over just because the calendar changes. There are places where it’ll probably get worse before it gets better. Then again, things are already a tiny bit better in areas for me… so, who knows? 

More than anything though, I’m thankful for my friends. I’m not an easy person to be friends with. Honestly, the list of character defects I have is kinda terrifying. But for those of you who have stuck it out, thank you. There have been days in recent months were having friends has literally been one of the only things that kept me going. 

I don’t have much of a family anymore. I’ve got a lot of rejection there. But occasionally, I get a glimmer of acceptance. And while I’ve still had rejection among my friends, there’s a lot more acceptance there than in my family.

And for that, I thank you.

May 2021 give us all a respite in the kindness and love we all so desperately need. 

-Penny/Amber/Novel (Should I just start calling myself PAN or something? Bah, I still can’t decide).

Comments ( 31 )

It is scary. But everything will probably work out.

You never need to apologize for taking care of yourself, your family, or being yourself.

Even the darkest nights have their dawn.

I know it's scary right now, and all the bad stuff really weighs down on you. It weighs on a lot of us, but you've been through some real hellfire, and I know you are strong enough to forge forward with the help of those around you. Even if their ranks get thin sometimes, there will always be those who will stand beside you, and their ranks will never diminish, only grow with time.

I hope next year is better for you, after everything that has occurred, you could use good things. A good year.

I hope you get it. That better year.


I think what a lot of people fail to understand is that using money to take care of necessities isn't just about paying for things like rent and food. A huge part of taking care of yourself is setting aside what you need, both in terms of monetary funds and time, to enjoy yourself. Being selfish means putting your own needs first, and that's okay! After all, if you're not having fun every now and then, you're not really living, you're just surviving. And that can only last you so long.

Yeah. I can definitely agree that this year WAS a rough one. Admittedly, I can't, in all honesty, claim to truly KNOW how you're feeling, but I CAN say that I hope things DO get better for you and your family.

Author Interviewer

Diversion is self-care. Just because you're struggling economically in any fashion does not mean you're not allowed to have fun sometimes. You can't better your situation if you're physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted all the time from trying to better that situation.

In other words, fuck whoever sent you that letter. :)

I know this may not amount to much, but my sister is trans and suffers many of the same struggles. Don't be afraid to ask for help and always confide in those you trust. Holding it all in is toxic to yourself. Have a safe New Year.

We're here for you, however much you want us to be. Here's to hoping this is the low point of the whole dang decade, for you and so many others.

I've heard that a lot. It's become difficult to believe. So I'm just focusing on the next few steps.

When it costs other people things, sometimes, it's safer to do so.

Thank you. I'm glad I have others to keep the faith even when I've dropped mine.

I have a pretty bad history of balancing it with the needs of family, work and more. That's my trouble with it. You're right, it is important. I just need to figure out how to make it all work together.

That's okay, I know exactly what you mean. It's all relative.

It was only one part of that letter, and there was a lot of truth in it in other areas. I can't just dismiss it.

I'm also trying to figure out how to get past being exhausted from it, even with the attempts at self-care. Mental health is too bloody complicated.

I'm trying. There was a time I wasn't anymore, but I've at least recovered enough to fight again. :pinkiesmile:

Please, let it be so.

Worlds turn upside down
Paths blanketed with thick fog
Light pierces the gloom

I can't offer much besides my good wishes, but you certainly have those!

I don’t know you particularly well, but if you ever want someone to vent to or chat to or just send you a cute pony picture, please feel free to reach out to me here or text me at 714-496-3119. Best of luck with everything.

Author Interviewer

It really is.

Also possible for someone to be right about one thing and wrong about another. Not to be patronizing. But seriously, far too many people are willing to demonize the poor for daring to do anything but find work 24/7, and those people can fuck right off.

Also goddammit your new avatar is cute as hecc D:<

Sounds like you might be ready to become a socialist?

It was good seeing you! And yeah... there is no finish line, keep walking forward. You're not alone.

Author Interviewer

You're too late, bucko :P

I'll continue to support you, for what good money does. I especially feel your pain regarding the job market. If you're looking for some trans-positive fiction as a pick-me-up, rooibos_chai and OfficiallyZoe have both penned some exceptional stuff. (Check the series tab, Scribblehub is weird.) We're also a pretty swell bunch to hang out with over in the Offprint Discord server.

Wow, that was a lot of links.

I'm glad your situation's improved somewhat overall (even if it's still not great, and some aspects, such as the rejections, are pretty bad; I'm sorry about those), and I hope that improvement keeps up.
Good luck!

That's what friends are for, even the really quiet ones. We pick up faith when it has been dropped, dust it off, and guard it preciously until a time as it can be reclaimed by it's owner.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Best of luck to you, going forwards! :yay:

Wrote you a PM, Penny/Amber/Novel. Don't know if you noticed it, or maybe just don't want to read PMs (some people don't, and to each their own), but the gist is I just wanted to express that you have my support and I wish you all the best for a better 2021. :twilightsmile:

I'm not much good at support these days, barely keeping myself together; but what I can do I'm happy to do.

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