And a Half — The Indescribable Difference that Six Months Makes

Ned Donovan
5 min readFeb 3, 2022

This article originally appeared on my website. It also appears on Linkedin.

I often look at six and a half years ago as the moment my life changed entirely. That “and a half” is the difference between my saying my life changed for the good, and indescribably for the worse. It was six and a half years ago that I returned from my single longest acting contract, and was feeling artistically and creatively stifled. I was acting, yes, and I was loving every second of it, but I wasn’t creating. I wasn’t generating the art rattling around in my brain in the form of ideas. So I called Marcus Thorne Bagala, my longest collaborator, and together we planned a project of classic showtunes reimagined in today’s radio genres. We didn’t know it yet, but that was the very first project of Charging Moose Media. “and a half” later, I sat by my father’s bedside working on one of the tracks for this album as he passed away.

A photo of W Michael Donovan taken from behind while he sits cross-legged on a rock near the top of a mountain he was hiking as he looks out over a vista of trees far below.

6 Years Ago Today

9:30am, February 3rd, 2016. That was the day that everything changed for the worse. I went from creating as a way to feel artistically whole while making a living as an actor, to creating as a way to stay sane while I learned how to manage an estate, sell a house, empty an office, erase my father from the physical plane in order to allow the world to move on, while simultaneously preserving his memory for the decades to come without him. After “and a half”, I spent my days calling creditors, poring over documents looking for items of value, and trying to not dwell on what I had lost both personally and professionally. I spent my nights drinking copiously and throwing myself into creative project after creative project.

“And a Half” “And Another Half” “And Another…”

What is hard to describe is the effect “and a half” has had on the course of my future. “And a half” year later I received career-delaying throat surgery. “And a half” year later my Mother’s cancer was declared terminal. By the time one and a half years later rolled around, in the fall of 2017, I had released Give My Regards to Broadway: Classic Showtunes Reimagined, launched my first podcast, been hired as a producer on a show for Radiotopia, released the first season of The Hunted: Encore, and had wrapped production on the second season. I had gained a future, and an entirely new path in life. I had lost, what felt like, everything. All in increments of “and a half”.

It’s no secret why I picked the end of January as the departure date from my long-time day job. I wanted to be able to say, confidently, that 6 years after the passing of my father, the day everything changed, I found my way back. And today, I sit here having returned my career focus to my art and my passions.

Divergent Paths and the Moments that Cause Them

It’s strange to look at every moment in your life as a guidepost on the path to where you are now. Some moments are good, others terrible, but all of them serve as moments that have taught you something or shaped you somehow. I wouldn’t be the writer, producer, creative that I am if “and a half” had never happened. I would continue to be an artist, perhaps in different ways, but I would have a completely different community, with a completely different worldview. I probably would never have met my partner if I had been acting at the time that we matched. Part of what led us to the incredible life we have is how in sync our schedules were for our relationship until now.

  • I probably wouldn’t be a homeowner.
  • I probably wouldn’t be heavily involved in the ttrpg community.
  • I probably wouldn’t be a podcaster.
  • I probably wouldn’t have gone into technologies, or launched my own tech startup.
  • I probably wouldn’t have launched a sports journalism website.
  • I probably wouldn’t have made 90% of the art that shapes my existence today.
  • I probably wouldn’t have the same community that I’ve built for myself.
  • I for sure would not have met my incredible wife.

All of these things are direct byproducts of the sanity projects I created to numb the pain of losing my parents. The world would look much different, and if I stare too long at it, I’m not sure I would prefer the world from the path I used to be on. I’m much more authentically myself because of 6 and a half years of self discovery. Every single moment of that time, even the “and a half”, altered the course of my future.

So…What Does “and a half” Mean?

There isn’t a point to this essay, no final straw that I can point to and sum up what “and a half” means. I’d like to say I’d give it all up if it meant I could have another day with my Mom and Dad. But I don’t know that I would. I love my life. I love my wife. I love the world I’ve created and the art I’ve produced. I love the connections I’ve made, and the laughter shared. I don’t think the pain and trauma was worth it, per say, I just think the world is made of moments that shape us. My moments are unique. My moments are beautiful. My moments are sad, and lonely. My moments are filled with love. My moments are mine, and I cherish them all, for good or bad.

I am an artist, I am a creative, and I was forever changed on this day 6 years ago. “And a half” years before that, I was an artist, I was a creative, but I was someone else entirely.

How different the world is 6 and a half years later. But 6 years to the day later, I’m proud to say, “Hey, Dad. I miss you. It hurts less now, but I wish you could see who I am today. I think you’d be incredibly proud. I think you would love my life, and love my world, and be overjoyed to partake in it. I think you would love Jenni, and every single person that meets her backs me up on that. I think most of all you’d be proud that I found my way back to what I always said I would do. It looks different than the plan, and it feels different at 32 than it did at 22, but for the first time in a long time I feel home. I love you. Rest easy.”

Not bad for 6 years (and a half).

A selfie of Ned Donovan and W Michael Donovan smiling on the street of in Madison Wisconsin in 2015. In the background is the Wisconsin Capital building.
Madison, Wisconsin — 2015

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Ned Donovan

He/Him • Actor • Producer • Co-Founder Audition Cat, Charging Moose Media, Play+1 • Board Member New Jersey Web Festival • https://neddonovan.com/links