Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stage Fright

Well after a week of carnage on more levels than I'd like to admit, I've finally got off my backside to update. Now, I've a million things swirling around my head at the moment, but realistically I'm only going to blog about a few of them. None of those select few are going to be too personal, so let's stick to writing related missives. Okay, first one:

I officially became a comic book writer recently.

Really.

And this, funnily enough, is before anything of mine has actually been released.

Confused? Yeah, it's kinda weird. But let me explain.

I got paid for my first couple comic book scripts for Super Duper Secret Comic Book Series due for release next year. The cheques came in, I did a bizarre 'this cant be real smile', realised the significance and then I cashed them (my long suffering bank balance was very grateful). The comics themselves, once drawn, won't see daylight till sometime between late 2007 and early 2008. A long way off. So long that my unpaid comic work will see publication before it. But rule of thumb states that if I'm getting paid for work, then it IS actually work and thus I'm now -presto!- magically a comic book writer. Sure, I'd rather see the stuff being read and enjoyed and getting this status via that, but after 12 months of delays and set backs (and a dream dating from when I was about 14), this is a start I'm happy to take and chew on like a crazed canine.

This naturally got me thinking about how the stories will be received should they reach the shops, something that always crosses my mind when I place those words "the" and "end" at the end of a manuscript. So I'm officially a 'writer' now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I'm a good writer (ack, nebulous and subjective terms there – I'm sure you know what I mean). Neil Gaiman once said that it's important to get your stuff out and on the shelves so you know the fear of people having to pay real life money for your bad writing, which in turn forces you to get better very quickly. Right now, with several stories not being in that position till potentially another 5-6 months, I'm lacking that fear. But it sure as hell doesn’t mean I'm not afraid. You can almost see the sweat in-between the spaces of these letters if you look hard enough…

Pretty much every week I wonder if any one of the 9 stories I've completed that are waiting for publication (in one way or another) are good enough. I'm kinda grasping at intangible thin air here because, heck, who's to say what's 'good' enough and what isn’t. Some people enjoy things others don’t. Not everyone likes The Godfather or The Breakfast Club despite their widely deemed classic status (although if you don’t like The Breakfast Club you're soulless – soulless!). A 'good' story doesn’t even have to be technically sound. It just has to be liked in that indescribable essence. It touches you and does something to make you laugh, or cry, or think, or well, something, anything of an emotional response that you appreciate and take away with you when the story is over. It doesn’t have to be long, short, complicated or simple. You can layer it with multiple meanings, deep themes and amazing characterisation, but ultimately unless it touches an audience and creates a spark within them, it won't matter.

It just has to be enjoyed.

Because of that, the pant-brown dread is still slowly creeping its way up (or is that down?) my spine, despite feeling relatively happy with most of my stories. They're a little bleak at times, which is a slight worry, but seem (seem!) to appeal to people on some level, for which I'm grateful. It's just getting the damn stuff out there.

Which is something I'm currently working to fix on my own, separate from my other projects. Not sure how viable it is yet, but needless to say, here will be the first place I unveil it… if I get past the potential stage fright, of course.

4 comments:

Therine said...

The fact that you got paid speaks volumes.The company aren't going to throw away money for something thats not going to make them money albeit 2007/2008.Anyhow the name Super Duper Comics conjures up the idea of great stories, ones that you can't resist buying, full of excitement and drama and leaving you with that 'can't wait to buy the next edition feeling'.It can only mean onwards and upwards for you.Success is just around the corner.

Writing Gaijin said...

Thanks - we'll see how it all goes (although when I said "Super Duper Secret Comic Book Series", I was being facetious - that's nothing to do with the title; it would be a tad inappropriate especially given the serious subject matter, lol).

It'll all seem a little more real and frightening when I start seeing the artwork, but I wont be allowed to show that here until the first issue goes to print. Hopefully we'll be getting some specialist press to help advertise...

Crowley said...

Wow - congratulations! I know what a big deal this must be for you - I can't wait to see them in print :) You'd better let me know as soon as they appear, boyo.

Writing Gaijin said...

Thanks :) Dont worry, I'll be promoting the hell out of this (and the other stuff coming out) when/if they get close to release.

Although this project is quite difficult (takes ages to research, for one), it does allow me to come up with some wonderfully perverse swearing and insults without getting the Editor/censors annoyed at me, and all within the tone of the book. Language carte blanche FTW ;)