3/29/15

Indie Comics and Delusions of Grandeur

You should get this reference. You
should also hug a Wookie.
A. In this blog, I'll share some advice from the writer Merrill Hagan. It's intensely helpful and I wish I would've followed it sooner.

2. I'll give you the script to issue one of my comic book titled "Leaves" for free. (Complete with annoying watermark that a lawyer told me to use.) It's a three issue series and it's done.

D*. Blogs are meant to be short. This one isn't. It's not David Foster Wallace long, but I do share a personal story and the lessons I learned from it. You can apply those lessons to any creative industry, endeavor or genre of writing.

THE INSPIRATION

After I started writing comic scripts in 2013, I attended every indie panel at every convention I could. I devoured new books and added them to my pull list. I kept a pin board of some of my favorite comic art for inspiration. I even reached out to artists I loved, somewhat prematurely.

I didn't have the money to finance my first comic, but I was stepping out on faith in huge ways.  I felt like it was all happening. I had visions of signing my comics at conventions, doing my own panels, talking with my fan base. Full on delusions of grandeur. The kind writers sometimes need to entertain to keep moving forward.


At a film festival I attended, I ran into a famous comic author by accident. In typical Audrey fashion, I had an hour-long conversation with the guy having no idea who he was. I mean, I knew the name of the author, but I didn't know what he looked like and didn't make the connection for quite a while.

There is a name drop later in this blog, but you won't find it here. Anonymous Comic Book Author stays anonymous. Not realizing who he was meant I stayed calm enough to share my idea without any nerves. I gave him the elevator pitch without knowing who I was pitching to. (Yeah, yeah...to whom I was pitching.)

We chatted, exchanged contact info, then he told me he was going to work for Dark Horse and I should send him a synopsis because he was interested in passing it along. That's the writer's equivalent to Lana Turner at a lunch counter. In the end, it didn't work out for me. But he was a perfectly nice man.

And anyway, I just told you that story to tell you this one.

THE TERROR

I began to psychologically hold onto this experience in a negative way. I hinged my entire attempt to break into comics on this. one. story. I became paranoid after they didn't take my pitch. If I saw a comic with a hero even resembling mine, or a comic that had a monster that looked like mine, it would send adrenaline pulsing through my body.

I worried that someone stole my manuscript. I worried that someone, somewhere else, had thought of the exact same thing. (The zeitgeist will get you at some point. Maybe at many points. But even when it does, remember, there are only so many ideas in the world and we all do them so differently.)

The point is, I was physically stressed about this and it was stifling.

THE DOY

Fellow writers, this lesson took me a couple of years to learn the hard way and I'm going to give you the opportunity to skip that anguish, so pay attention. Your gift to the world is not your pet story. It's certainly not your FIRST story. It's not any single idea you have, however brilliant. It's the bottomless well of creativity that you carry every day in that big, beautiful brain of yours.

This is great news for several reasons. First, if someone ever steals an idea from you, (It will also probably happen at some point.) they may be able to take your idea, but that's all they'll have. That one idea. You have that big, beautiful aforementioned brain.

Second, it means you can learn to love your life as a writer for the process of writing itself. I have a major problem with the all-too pervasive attitude in Writer Land today that you should HATE the routines of writing. It's cynical.

Yes, writing is hard. (Especially redrafting.) Yes, there are those days when you have to "tie yourself to the chair". But hear me, Non-Gender Specific Dudes, if you truly hate writing, guess what? You don't have to do it. You can move on to another field. You can take a break.

I was once so burned out on writing and video production that I left it all behind for a couple of years and started working as an actor. It was a total blast and it was exactly the break I needed. Not only that, but I spent those two years accumulating story ideas and gaining the life experiences I needed to tell new stories.

This is the only "Let it go."
that exists.
Chances are, if your adrenaline rushes over the terror of a specific project, the best thing you can do is find a way to let it go and move on. I knew that's what I needed to do. Let it go.

I started seeking advice from other writers and other people in the industry about how to move forward.

Sidenote: This is another thing you should know, you can contact the people you admire and just...ask them stuff. There's no guarantee they'll answer, but when you have somewhere you want to go and there's a world full of people who have already been there, it's okay to ask for directions.

There's no invisible barrier between successful people and aspiring people.

Just don't ask for help. Not until you have a project that truly needs some type of concrete support, but that's another blog for another day.

In a facebook chat I had with Merrill Hagan (Name drop lift-off! Please check out his website and read a lot of his writing.) about what the heck to do with a pile of manuscripts you don't have plans for, he gave me some of the best advice I've EVER heard.

He said, "I do think you are more than okay to go ahead and put your ideas online. First of all, I think holding back your 'best stuff' is never a good idea. I think when you cling to something being your better idea, it actually can block you from having newer better ideas. The act of constantly creating will make the stuff you do six months from now better than the best stuff you are making right now."

Isn't that helpful? And liberating? It makes me laugh now to think that it was my first ever comic and I got bummed because DARK HORSE DIDN'T PUBLISH IT. 

Delusions of grandeur, man...



Another Sidenote: I don't know how to talk or write about conversations I've had with people of note without sounding like a pretentious jerk-face, so I try to make jokes to diffuse things. Maybe it makes it worse. Either way, it's a true story and how I came to this epiphany and I'm grateful for it. So there you go.

*I promise I know how to count. That order of items was a very timely "Home Alone" joke. Always relevant in a blog full of Harrison Ford references and indie comics, right?

*It still bothers me ending sentences with prepositions. But I do it anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I love you and you are amazing and the home alone joke you made is basically why we are friends. Also, fun fact: I may actively internet stalk you... A lot...

    ReplyDelete