Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What's Up.

Well, that was an appallingly awful ten days, spent mostly lying in bed hoping against all hope for the sweet release of death.

But it's over now and time to get things moving again. Unfortunately, almost everything that matters in my professional world is currently moving towards San Diego for the big comic con next week. With no books to show this year and no recognizable success getting work or even useful connections out of attending from previous years, I have elected not to go this time (in my ideal world, I would elect not to go any time--the thing is just too much: too big, too hot, too loud, too crowded.)

Which is for the best, I think, but it appears to effectively mean I'm going to spend the next couple weeks in limbo as everyone else trucks over to the coast for over-priced drinks and heatstroke. Not that I couldn't develop heatstroke right here at home, the way the weather's been lately.

Most critically, and frustratingly: all paying work is on hold, supposedly until after the convention when at least UP1 is supposed to resume. We'll see if that happens--right now I'm not feeling terribly confident about it, which sucks, because, though it didn't pay particularly well, it was at least going to pay, and money is an issue at the moment (not as big an issue as it would be if I was going to San Diego. As a matter of fact, going to San Diego last year combined with a couple publishers breaking their promises is arguably why it's an issue at all now.) (It's not a great argument, though. Tiina and I are terrible when it comes to money.) (Still, going to San Diego last year really hurt us financially. Which is another reason I'd rather Never Go Again at the moment.)

The absence of paying work is not without its advantages, however. It gives me space to work on and develop my own projects, ones that I'm passionate about because they excite me even without an imminent paycheque attached.

On Monday I was contacted by two different artists, who are both interested in working on two different projects with me (come to think of it, I should really e-mail one of them back tonight...). So VANQUISHED and ERSATZ are suddenly moving forward again (VAN more suddenly than Ersatz, to be sure.) And Nick Johnson delivered some more character designs for THE HOLIDAY MEN (come to think of it, I should really e-mail him back tonight, too...).

All three of those landed at the tail end of The Oozing Infection, during which time I was all but useless, on a work level. It's hard to write when every strike of the keyboard sends a lightning bolt of pain coursing through your face. Still, on Friday I found myself wanting to get something done.

My general writing practice is to sit around and not write for days on end (paraphrasing someone regarding Douglas Adams, "not starting writing until every newspaper possible had been read and every last cup of tea possible had been drunk"), just thinking about how I'm going to do a story. This mulling eventually hits critical mass and I start typing in a mad rush, often into the wee hours of the night. And then, when I actually do lie down, all I can think about is getting the first run-through...well, run through.

Once I've gone through, got everything that will make sure the story is a story in place, the real work begins. I can't recall who said when you can't write something good, write crap, because then at least you'll have something to fix, but fixing my crap is where I like to think I really shine.

I'm an obsessive polisher of almost everything I write. Even e-mails get proofed and tweaked at least once, often more. Blog and messageboard posts take a stupid amount of time for me, as I struggle to make sure my phrasing is saying exactly what I want it to. After years of doing this, I now realize going to all the effort is bordering on insanity, but I can't stop. The upside comes when I'm actually writing something Important--then my incessant need to work and rework words is an advantage (and also a burden--I probably don't need to spend as much time proofreading and tweaking panel descriptions only an artist, editor, and letterer are likely ever going to see, for instance.)

Of course, the trick is knowing when to stop, and it's a trick I haven't mastered yet. Left to my own devices, I'd probably still be polishing the first story I ever wrote. Deadlines are wonderful things, if only because they let me know when I've got no choice but to stop, no matter how much I want to go through the thing just one last time.

Anyway. Unable to focus enough to polish stuff like CCCC#2's script into fighting form, but still feeling the overwhelming need to write (there's only so many YouTube clips of Fry and Laurie one can watch in the course of a week), I elected to work on something from the ground up. I settled on an idea for a television show I've been nurturing for years. I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on the characters and themes I wanted to hit with the thing, and as I lay in a semi-conscious state I put together an actual plot for the pilot episode.

Working on a screenplay made a lot of sense at the time--rather than trying to rally the mental energy to describe how I envision a comic page might look, I could keep descriptions to a minimum and focus what energies I had on the part of writing I like best: dialogue.

It took me from Friday till Sunday to get from beginning to end of my initial Crapdraft. And on Monday, lo and behold, I was feeling human again.

So I started polishing. I was up till 2 in the morning the last couple nights, both times working on getting the script into fighting shape. This morning I went through it again, and, because I thought at the time paying work was going to resume, I sent it off to the manager for her thoughts.

In light of what I've learned today, I wish I hadn't done that. Because all I want to do at the moment is go through it again, fine-tuning it further. I know that's not an efficient use of my time, but it's a compulsion I find myself barely able to resist.

At least typing this post gave me forty minutes of thinking about something other than going back in. It's time to move forward on something, not back into my first spec pilot script, cerrtainly not until I've got some feedback from someone who knows how to read scripts.

And I've got a couple artists waiting to hear back from me. So.



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