On Writing, Or Not
[Hey gang. I got pulled into this discussion numerous times last night, based on a Tumblr post by Brian Michael Bendis, seen by me on Greg Rucka’s Tumblr which included a lot of, shall we say, “disagreement.” So here’s where I stand on the subject based on what was said.
The upshot of this is, I now have a Tumblr account too. After this post, I will be linking this blog to it, so if you prefer to follow me there, add http://gdwessel.tumblr.com to your follow log too. Anyway, I’m still here. I welcome comments and debate below, too.]
OK, well. Seeing as I’m sort of on that weird blurred dividing line between “trying to be a writer” and “professionally published comic writer,” I truly see both sides of the debate. And there are some good points in between the abusive language.
(I mean, seriously, when did calling someone who didn’t give you the answer you wanted every name in the book become somehow LESS offensive than a professional telling someone who isn’t doing what they say they want to do that maybe they aren’t that thing??)
I think there are several issues being conflated here that’s all gotten mixed up into one miasma.
First off, before I go anywhere, NOTHING is set in stone, not all rules apply to every last person, everyone has varying circumstances. Even George Orwell said his own writing rules could be jettisoned in certain situations. Really, all I can relate with any certainty are my OWN experiences and learned wisdom.
I have every amount of empathy and understanding for persons who are experiencing any one of a multitude of mental health issues. I really do. I know for fact how debilitating they can be, how they make you not want to get out of bed, socialize in ANY way, not want to eat, shower, take care of yourself in any way, go to work… For real. I’ve seen it. I’ve BEEN it. It’s not fun, it’s nothing to laugh at or make light of.
I don’t think that’s exactly what either Brian Michael Bendis or Greg Rucka had in mind either. The question was related to a non-specific case of “writers’ block” that had apparently been going on for seven years. In that context, I don’t think what Bendis originally said was that offensive. If I’m not DOING the thing I say I’m doing, or want to be doing, it doesn’t necessarily mean I AM that thing. If I say, for example, I play football, but for seven years, I don’t lace up my boots and get on the pitch and kick a ball, even in a pick-up rec league, there really wouldn’t be any argument in favor of my assertion that I’m a footballer.
And yes, Real Professional Writers In History had periods of inactivity. LONG periods of inactivity. Again, not everything applies verbatim to everyone.
Without wanting to crow about how I overcame my shit… in order to get to this slight position I’m in now, as a comics writer, I’ve had to also deal with a) raising a child with disability [autism – she’s almost 15 now and doing quite well in her freshman year in high school], b) working two, sometimes three, jobs at a time in order to provide for that child and the others that were there too, c) an emotionally [and sometimes physically] abusive spouse, who thankfully at one point finally left, d) the shock of suddenly becoming a single father, having to jettison one of said jobs after ten years, and then getting let go at the other, primary one…
But through all that time, I SAID I was “trying to become a writer.” And I had ideas, and outlines, and was making contact with artists…
The one thing I was FAILING to do, was get the scripts written. Until, one day… I did. And I wrote an 8-page introductory script to my epic graphic novel. And it got drawn, and then…. nothing. But it was the start. And from there one idea I wrote in a flashfiction on my old LiveJournal evolved into my series KEEPER. And, and, and…
Sometimes people have the breakthrough. Other times, they don’t. But I also do idly wonder, sometimes those who say they cannot get the ideas out, are also prolific bloggers. Maybe you’re not meant to be a FICTION writer – write criticism, non-fiction, anecdotes, whatever you can to actually get ideas out there of any kind. Let’s face it, if you blog, you’re already doing that anyway after a fashion. Maybe expression through other means is more your style. Hey, I know, all through my childhood I was CONVINCED I was either going to be an artist, on THAT side of the comics table, or be Steve Dahl. Well… things happened and different directions were went in.
If you were to ask me what the real difference between a writer and a not-writer is, it’s this: it’s not getting paid, it’s not getting published by a major house, or any of that. It’s FINISHING what you started. Start a story, article, and see it to completion. Understand that, well, you may not ALWAYS succeed at that, but when your Finished Output starts to outweigh your Ideas and Outlines and Concepts and PlotBunnies… then you are well on the way. In fact, probably already there. Pitches and submissions do count too.
Swearing at Bendis or Rucka isn’t going to get them to change their minds about what they said, but really, it wasn’t a personal attack, I’d reckon. They may have seemed callous, and there was a time I would have sworn at them and called them names too. But I’d be willing to bet they, too, at one time, were in a similar position, so perhaps they do speak from the voice of experience, even if it doesn’t sound like how you’d say it.
The differences between a writer and a Professional Writer… is another story altogether. But you need to be the former before the latter, either way.
Lastly, not even Bendis or Rucka are at their keyboards every hour of every day either. That’s an unreasonable assertion for ANYONE to make. But do a little SOMETHING. Even blogging counts. Hell, it’s probably what helped ME in the end.
I welcome replies and commentary, but please keep it reasonable. Thanks.