Swimming upside down? Sideways? No? Good. You’re OK. For now. Just keep going. What else can you do?
Back in high school, I used to write short stories for my friends’ special occasions: birthdays, mostly or if they were going on a long trip. They were irreverent, sometimes angry, but usually hilarious to the people receiving them, tall tales about us and the things we would never do, decorated with the things we longed to do, full of in-jokes and insults. Parents and bullies were cast as easily-disposed antagonists, or hapless casualties to the larger menace; we were always punk rock anti-heroes in a cruel world, destined to inherit the earth.
In the last 18 months, I’ve started about a half dozen serious short speculative stories, all inspired by really wonderful ideas, concepts full of potential, characters with meat. None of them went beyond a few pages, even the ones where I knew how things ended. The only substantial thing I’ve written in that time is the first 3 books of the 5 book graphic novel I’ve been wanting to draw, but the script still isn’t finished. I’ve been drawing every day, using the headspace I used to use to write, so focused on the tablet that even my touch typing has suffered.
A few weeks ago, the Vampire Bat asked me if I could do one of my old stories for her birthday. The Bat is a dear old friend; we have known each other almost 30 years. No kidding. She’s only appeared in about 3 comics so far, but we talk on a pretty regular basis. So I’m writing a story now, and kicking it to the “Creative Scraps” file in my documents folder (where I stick things that refuse to be finished) is not an option, because then, of course, I will fail the friendship test.
It didn’t seem like I knew what to write for her, but of course, I do. When you know someone that long, you know them. It’s all just waiting to come out. And it will come out.
So, it’s good, really. Finishing a story will help this whole experience come full circle. Because I am a good writer. I am a really, really good writer. Even though my writing career hasn’t gone anywhere near where it promised to take me, people have paid me lots of money to write things for them, and a sizable number of great (successful) writers have told me I’m a great writer. And that drawing of the goldfish that’s gonna keep on truckin’? Well, that’s just a little doodle. It didn’t take any time at all, and it’s a million times better than my first webcomic, which I drew a little less than a year ago. So here I am.
I always liked to draw, but I only embarked on this project because I wan’t to try my hand at graphic storytelling. Now I’m just about ready to start this new project. First, I just have to finish a few more things.