Saturday, June 2, 2007

The Brass Tacks

Someone on a LiveJournal comic creator community had the misfortune of identifying himself as a comic writer before going on to mention that they'd never actually finished writing a comic because they were: 1) a perfectionist, 2) lacking a peer group, and 3) lacking experience.

All of which sent me into a berserker fury of a post that I then managed to tone down before posting it as the following:

"This is probably going to come off as more than a little flip, and I'm sorry about that but I can't think of a less brusque way of putting this, so here's my advice:

Just write the damn story.

Write it, *finish it* (at least your portion of it), put it aside and write the next one while looking for collaborators to finish the first one. Repeat as necessary until you:

1) Have an actual comic,
2) Give up, or
3) Die.

I've seen lots of people, too many of them with legitimate talent, take themselves out of the game with the "I want it to be perfect" excuse. I tend to see it as people insecure over their own abilities rationalizing their failure to do what they claim they want to do (this is based on my personal experience with others who've made the claim; I don't know you well enough to say one way or the other about you.) If you never have to finish something and put it out where someone can point out its flaws, then it forever exists in your own mind, as fantastically wonderful as you can imagine it to be.

If you're happy with that, that's great, it really is, but don't call yourself a comic writer. There are millions of people not writing their stories and thousands who are writing them, and hundreds who are finishing them and taking the actions necessary to move those stories to the next phase of their development.

Finishing the story is the *easy* part. Then you've got to find an artist, and/or a letterer, and/or a colourist, and/or a publisher. Then you've got to convince people to buy, or even just read, your work.

Look: Your stuff is not perfect. It's never going to be perfect, and if you ever did do something that *was* perfect, the thing you did after that wouldn't be and you'd be living forever in the shadow of your one perfect work which you'll never be able to match up to.

Striving for excellence is fine. Networking is fine. Socializing is fine (in controlled doses--I've seen a lot of people who were more interested in being writers than they were in actually writing, and that doesn't fly.)

NOT FINISHING AT LEAST ONE STORY is not fine. Not for someone who fancies him or herself a writer.

You don't need peers (they'll only slow you down right now) and you don't need experience (which you'll get more of from actually writing and finishing a story than you will from doing anything else.) You need a finished story; once you have that, then you can go to people for suggestions/critique. And then you can take that and gain experience by applying what you've learned, either in revision or in working on your next story.

Right now, for you, the only thing that matters is getting a story done. And there's nothing stopping you from writing it.

What are you waiting for?



UPDATE: Happily, the fellow on the receiving end of that rant seems to have taken it as the pep-talk it was, for all my initial frustration, ultimately intended to be. Now I need to read the damn thing over a few times myself and hopefully it'll inspire me to actually, y'know, get something done, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's what I needed, honestly. An object at rest tends to stay at rest, right?