Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What I know About Writing.

I know nothing about writing… least, in comparison to others. But there’s something quite exciting about that, isn’t there? At this point, the territory in which I have left to explore seems infinite to me.

I’d like to state straight off the bat that I am a very young writer, one as stupid and naïve as he is enthusiastic- as we all are at the beginning. Also (perhaps rightly as I have only a limited number of blog followers), this post is not meant as a pompous lets-see-how-I-can-impart-wisdom exercise. I am writing this blog much like I think aloud…maybe for no one’s benefit but my own, to order my thoughts and gauge where I stand in my views at this point in time. In some weird way it’s also intended as a time-capsule, something to look back on in the years to come to observe just how stupid and naïve and enthusiastic I once was.

Comics have always come first. I am a hopeless, four-colour addled comic book junkie. The breadth of subject matter capable in comics, along with the opportunity for a perfect marriage or juxtaposition of words and images, makes comics a unique medium. Sure, film is capable of achieving art through word and image, but it is so fast. The pace and intention of a scene is dictated to us. In comics, I can spend an hour deciphering an image with hidden meaning and subtext. In comics, I can flick back to a theme planted like a seed chapters in advance before re-reading the pay-off. Books came later, and upon finding them I understood that you can write about anything. The world didn’t begin and end with spandex, and I was relieved. Books are special, and they have an immense power. The relationship the book has with it's reader is just as unique as that which it has with the author.

For me the key with writing is constantly learning, constantly improving; exorcising the damage as quickly as possible, before moving onto bigger challenges straight away.
One of my favourite memories was at a comic con, asking Brian K Vaughan to sign my copy of Pride of Baghdad. I asked if he could give me a message about writing and he wrote, “All first drafts are supposed to suck.” Good advice. In the panel at that show he said he feels profoundly stupid, and treats every new gig as a chance to get down to the library and learn something new. In an idealistic ‘Thunder Road’ way, I’d like to believe that to be true. Be it art, or politics, or time-travel, there is always something to read about and, more importantly, write about.

I believe other things are true about writing. I believe that a project goes from being a good one to a great one with editing. I believe you need to understand the point you’re making, otherwise how can you communicate that to others. I believe in emotion over logic. I believe that we are all capable of having shit ideas, that it is part of the process, and that we should put our work out, and be proud of it, before moving on as quickly as possible.

The biggest and most important lesson I have learnt so far is that nothing gets the writing finished like actually sitting down and writing. It seems simple, but we’re all magpies at heart- distractions come easily. I’ve seen a thousand more talented writers at every level (school, university, the creative world) that are far in advance of my skill, but just didn’t find the time. All those beautiful books and comics and screenplays and poems exist out there, in the Unfinished Library of Haven’t-The-Time and Can’t-Be-Arsed. It’s a shame. This will be an ironic blog post if I give up writing next year, which could happen. But the point is that I don’t want to. I’ve only just begun but I know I want to do this for a living.

I hope I stay this stupid and naïve and enthusiastic for a long time.


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