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Week Five Recap
Be the Protagonist and Defeat Your Antagonist (spoiler, it's you)
Most protagonists see the world in one way, until an inciting event changes that, then they must face and overcome antagonist in order to set the world right. Pretty standard affair. I’ve discovered, through much adversity, that I am both protagonist and antagonist in my life.
The act of writing original stories runs counter to much of my career(s) as a comic book creator, art director, and designer. These are client service professions, not singular outlets for expression. For thirty years, I’ve trained myself to think like a client and a customer for this work. What I want was the least important part of the equation. I relegated my taste to defensible suggestions, based on experience.
You may say, “surely not in comics,” it’s so creative. Alas, I hate to disabuse your vision of a magical playland where jolly artists create action-packed stories of fights in tights. Publishers have expectations, and those labels gatekeepers serve as brand managers, protecting the company’s IP. Do they get it right all the time? Not even close. But they are the shepherds working hard to protect the flock. They expect the writers and artists hired to maintain or elevate the standard they showed to land the gig. This means, be on time, solid storytelling, and no stylistic changes.
These careers demand creative abilities on speed dial, but require the clients’ needs to drive your artistic choices. I found it hard to suppress that training and allow my brain’s ability for free association to take over for my own stories. The common phrase in the writing community is; Silence your internal editor during the first draft.
To help this, I chose a story kernel that I “developed” before I began my career servicing clients. It was a patchwork comic book I wrote and drew. I completed an issue worth before landing my first professional gig with Marvel. Then it was straight to the archives. While it was a veneer of an idea, I could still tap into the same sense of excitement and adventure from when I first created it. When the time came, I grafted elements of this college story with some richer ideas I’d collected over the years. It was just the right combination of material and energy to continue writing till the end.
With one more week left in the Write-a-thon, please consider a $10, $20, or more donation to Clarion West in my name here. All money goes to support underserved voices in the speculative fiction genres.
Even with the desire and permission to write whatever I want, my troublesome brain loves to step in and cause problems. This lifelong struggle with focus plagued me through my years in the comic book industry. I’d say it was the key contribution to my pivoting careers into graphic design. The external structure of working in an office helped me develop tools to improve my focus and productivity over the years, and has helped in my freelance work since.
I needed those and personal tools for a successful workday. Now, I employ daily meditation, journaling, the Pomodoro method, and [recently] added brown noise to help my focus while at the keyboard. It sounds like a lot, and it is, but they all work in concert to improve my output. Rather than leave them as daily tasks, waiting to be ignored, I meditate for twenty-minutes then journal first thing every morning. This way, I complete half of my mindfulness list before 7 AM. The other two happen while I work, so they are less a to-do item, and more a productivity enhancement.
There’s one more tool I’ve spoken about recently. Forgiveness. The nature of beating myself up was always ready to come off the bench and get a home run. For years, I allowed it to color my efforts; and never for the better. Would I love to never need these mindfulness/productivity tools? Of course. But we don't pick how things are, we can only improve the situation we’re in, and I found little good came from emotional immolation. It’s amazing how much more I get done when I don’t replay my greatest flops. Full disclosure; I still do, but it happens less often than before. And I don’t beat myself up for doing it.
It takes a lot to make a thing on your own. I was too young to know the reality of that when I entered the comic book industry. Now, with all this accrued wisdom, I must work hard to overcome my antagonist within. He needs less sleep and has greater resources to thwart me at every turn. Like a plucky protagonist, I need to be clever and vigilant to win the day. Every day.
I wrote 14,161 words this week, bringing the five-week total to 58,902 words. It looks like I’m a day away from reaching my 60 thousand word goal. Stay-tuned to see how close I get to 70k. This locks down the first third of the initial draft for Ghost Wing and gives me some solid momentum.
I’ll place a notice here when the time comes to find beta readers.
Another call for donations to Clarion West in my name. Visit my Write-a-thon page, here.
Major thanks to those who have already donated.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was fantastic. It had so much of the Indy spirit that found me exploring abandoned train tunnels and other places I shouldn’t have in my youth. A magical send-off for the timeless hero.
After missing it in the theaters, and it slipping by rental options, we watched the Dungeons & Dragons Movie, and had the best laugh. They pulled off a simple high-paced adventure story that rode the line between cheeky and cringy. The cast was great, new to the other spheres of wonder beyond their own, so everyone shared in the magic. We laughed, and spotted dozens of Easter eggs laid for lifelong nerds, like me.
Somewhat connected, Star Trek; Brave New Worlds is settling into a great hybrid of original and new Trek. (Chris Pine in D&D movie plays Kirk in Star Trek movies) It seems they’re leaning more on the episodic side, while feathering in the long-term plot. Which is all right by me. I dig the cast and I hope they do five good years.
Oh, I spotted that Paramount+ has the original Star Trek cartoon from the ‘70s. The original cast voiced these, and the scripts are from the original series writers too. It’s not great animation, but it was on par with most cartoons of the time. For me, it’s quite comforting, and if you’re a fan of a Kirk, Spock, McCoy Star Trek, this may be your thing.
Reading All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. It’s one of those limited comic series that I’ve heard a lot about for a while, and finally got around to it. I’m curious how it pans out, because the first few issues feel disjointed. I’ll be there’s bound to be a shift that connects this together in a memorable fashion; the accolades are too many to be a fluke. More on this later.
How goes the hunt for an agent?
As I intimated last week, I’m holding off on my hunt for an agent until the Write-a-thon is complete. As I wrote above, it’s unfair to set myself up for a beating, when I know I can’t do the work. I’ll tackle this, starting in August.
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