TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE June/20 - Teaching stories in a Covid World
Also: writing about procrastination by procrastinating by writing this [about procrastination]
♫ I applied for a rescue dog,
But if I get you dog,
You're rescuing me ♫
2022 -- bounce.
Procrastination’s Origins and Destinations
Been thinking a lot about procrastination lately.
TL;DR - it stems from fear. Well, for me it definitely does.
See, I love writing. The act of being creative is one hell of a high. I can be breaking story, writing script, fiddling about with a short story idea, making those creative writing rpgs, just talking about story and ideas and ideation and arcs and all of that stuff gets me genuinely jazzed.
It’s why I love teaching creative writing so much - it’s super fun stuff.
But there’s a dark side to it all, and it stems from a fear of failure. When that fear kicks in, I procrastinate. I don’t know what that failure actually looks like, but I think, for me, it’s usually around the writing not being good enough, the final comic not being good enough, and therefore: me not being good enough.
In those times [and let’s be honest, this is All Times], I procrastinate. This can look like so many things, but the usual suspects are: social media, clearing email, maybe catching up on news/headlines, sometimes even just making a new list, or trying to think about the “other” writing [the posts for promotion, the back matter, the things you gotta do that are Thing Adjacent, but are decidedly not The Thing].
I feel my brain steer into these distractions because they feel like something, they feel worthy, they feel okay. Basically, they are safe. I don’t even try to distract myself with quality reading or anything actually worthwhile, I just mindlessly zone into something safe. Mostly, this is why I hate social media, and why I use it a whole lot less. It’s a mindless expanse, it’s built by design to feel like something when it’s actually and honestly nothing. The endless scroll feels like you’re looking for something, but we all know there’s nothing to find.
Lately, I’ve been trying to get in the office and be productive before most else. I allow my brain to wake up with Wordle, and then Framed, and then I try to go straight into a page of comic script, or sometimes I’ll mark a paper from work just to get one done before the day starts.
We all know it, but the hardest step is the first one. My brain tries to trick me - you should check for any messages, you should see what’s happened in the world today, you should just sip your coffee and chill for a minute [which can turn into 20 minutes easily].
I’m fighting it. I don’t always win. If the next panel is hard to script, I feel my brain drift, but I’m always consciously fighting it.
I’m trying to set myself a 2 page goal per day, for the times when I’m actually in a script.
Shocking no one, after writing the first page the second one usually flows pretty smooth. Often I’ll even bust out a third before my 4am brain has maybe had enough. Then I can clear emails, chat with collaborators, have a pause - but rarely is that pause me wanting to just doomscroll. If I play it right, it’s just time to tinker with a side project, or maybe read, or something else positive.
If I factor in the allowance that I’ll check headlines later, and I can message a collaborator whenever, then it gives me the allowance to just write.
Except when the fear creeps in strong. Knowing my script is rubbish, or I’ll never be good enough, or whatever the hell else rattles around the brain. I have to shut it out by just thinking: I enjoy writing.
I am not the world’s finest. I’m just enjoying it. And doing my best. That usually helps, a little.
But it’s an every day thing. Be good if it ever wasn’t, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.
The thing about making ground on a project is that you never feel like you do. You are always in the same spot - working on the next page. This helps because it means I’m not ever resting on laurels, I’m just productively chipping away at the marble, exposing the story within. I can keep my head down, but it also means I lack context on where I am, or how far I’ve come.
For this most recent project, I feel like I’m just chipping away at pages, here and there getting stuff done, but it’s nowhere near enough.
But in reality, I’m halfway through scripting #3 [out of 4], and so I’ve come quite a way so far. I feel like I’m still bumbling around, figuring stuff out with this, but I’m actually marching into the 4th act [out of 5].
When I sit back and think about that, I feel like I might be doing alright, like I’m making progress. But with my head down, I’m lost on that stuff sometimes.
I need to remind myself that the little bits add up. The marble slowly smoothly out.
Something wicked [awesome] this way comes.
It looks like I might have a surprise launch of something very soon and it is very very cool. I’ve not spoken about this project in a long while, it was dormant for some times, but now the fires within bubble and boil and hopefully I can send out another short digital missive about it you you and if you dig my writing and want to support a new story with a preorder then I’m going to have some news [and a link] for you.
Until then, the teeniest and peeks:
PERHAPS YOU'D CARE TO SAMPLE
TALES FROM THE CLOAKROOM on Kickstarter - this anthology of comic shorts are set up by a bunch of writers all in a class taught by Scott Snyder. You just love to see camaraderie turn into creativity. I hope this gets up because it looks beautiful, and the covers by Skylar Partridge and jesse Lonergan are amazing [plus a pin up by good mate Sebastian Piriz].
GRIST FOR THE MILL
BARRY - started watching the first season of this and it’s an absolute revelation. I’ve always loved Bill hader, but this is just insanely brilliant stuff that’s on a whole other weird level. Barry is a hitman who suddenly joins an acting class [run by Henry Winkler *chef’s kiss*] and from there every episode just seems to make things worse. I need to finish season one and get through the next two seasons, stat.
THE LEFTOVERS - reread this novel by Tom Perrotta and it’s still as brilliant as I remember. Turned the last page on it last night, and now I’m excited to teach this next semester. A book about a very small percentage of the population just vanishing one day and the story following different characters as they deal with their grief is going to be a very thoughtful thing to teach in a Covid World.
Does make me wonder - what other stories of old now look/feel/smell different after Covid has brutalised our brains these past 2 years?
Be one of the good guys, because there's way too many of the bad.
POST CREDITS SEQUENCE
Check. This. Out.
My absolute oldest friend of the ‘Pape delivered unto me this glorious 40th birthday present. The intersection of fine art and PKD is a perfect place to sit, and this shall find just the right spot on my office wall. The art of Przemek Dębowski is well worth checking out.
I have to say, turning 40 has felt alright. I’ve noticed lately that carbs seem to sit in the system for a lot longer than they used to, but other than that I have few complaints. I’m still keeping active, laughing, and putting my mental gristle to the test. The age and number and decade shift haven’t hit me in any negative way, so I’ll definitely take that as a win.
I also got a whole mess of cool books from my mates and a Lego Typewriter from the family and I got to reflect on what’s been a great decade gone in which I’ve been happily married, been engaged in the raising of my truly phenomenal [at times] children, and have somehow managed to publish every comic I’ve ever had published. It’s been a good decade, and I’m excited to see how I handle the next one and where it takes me.
Sidenote: I often get asked how many comics I’ve written and I don’t know how to answer that. Prose authors know how many novels they’ve published, or books in general because it has a spine. But me? I guess there are miniseries and graphic novels. But what about the one-shots? What about Skyscraper in all its newspaper glory?
So, whenever someone asks, I have absolutely no idea. *** I just went and checked, it seems that Speed Republic is wrapping up and it’s number 10 for minis and graphic novels. No, wait, I forgot Deer Editor, so I guess I’m up to 11. Not counting one-shots, and any short stories.
So, 11 major stories in like 9 years. With another coming in the next quarter, and I’m writing one for the future now.
I guess I’ll take that number, but it feels like I’m discounting the effort and love that goes into stuff like Skyscraper and Stain The Seas Scarlet, etc.
Oh, and speaking of Books With Spines! I have two coming out in August - you need to preorder them both!
Good night, and good luck.