ymmv .13 – I Haven’t Written A Goddamned Thing
It’s weeks into 2016 and I haven’t written a goddamn thing.
Well, revised for clarity, I managed to get within hours of January ending before I scripted anything.
And all this not writing made me feel like rubbish. It makes me feel like I’m doing nothing. Which is all insanity, it’s the sort of brain rot you’ve gotta be careful to slam with toxic gas and bury under lead, but that doesn’t stop even the thought of it doing its insidious job.
Sometimes you have to remember that writing isn’t scripting – oh, man, is it ever not. Writing/scripting is one job of being a writer, and a writer has to do a tonne of things. I mean, I know artists also do a tonne of things [hell, all of the peeps involved in a creative team do a crazy workload of other stuff – when I think about mastering these art/lettering computer programs and all that alchemy it makes me glad I just script in Google Drive] but I’m focusing on these other aspects purely to stop my brain from knifing itself nightly, and also to give insight into what goes on behind the curtain so maybe you won’t feel like a melting disaster when you haven’t written PANEL ONE in a few weeks.
To kick off 2016, here is the writing I did complete within the first month, starting at the start:
#366stories – Obviously the first writing of 2016 was my first #366stories idea – short, dirty, to the point [click here for more info on that initiative]
The rest of this will be erratic and all over the place [as my writing year has felt thus far] and I won’t take you through them in time order, we’ll just lump them together and see what happens.
COLOUR NOTES – man, I hate giving colour notes purely because what the hell do I know about colours. I mean, I know what I like, and sometimes I know what I want, but usually it just feels like me telling someone else how to do their job when I have no idea how to do their job. As such, I love letting colourists run a little wild. I let them try things, I let them express themselves because the colour is their art on the page. If something knocks me as ‘bad’ or I really don’t dig it, then I’ll raise it, but even then I don’t think I ever make demands.
And this year has seen me making colour notes on a one-shot that should be announced later this year, and 2 shorts within this world that I’ve built with some peeps. And thankfully they’re all coming along really bloody well – the three colourists are all beasts crushing everything before them on the page, so the notes have been easy, but I like to consider what I send back when possible, and I also like to give positive feedback on what I dig, so there’s that too.
THUMBNAIL NOTES – I’m cooking up this ace one-shot with Jen Vaughn [artist on AVERY FATBOTTOM: RENAISSANCE DETECTIVE and colourist for ARCHIE] and she sent through thumbnails for the book and I had to scrub them against the script and send back my thoughts on composition and storytelling and whether I poorly scripted anything and thus gave her a dud call on anything.
Spoiler Alert! She totally nailed every single thing and this book is going to be wild.
I also got the start of thumbnails on a new short I’m doing with Francesco Iaquinta and whoooo boy, this also looks ace.
CHARACTER NOTES – I’m possibly doing a new one-shot with another superb artist and we are ironing out what the lead character should look like so he threw a grid of headshots at me and I spitballed possible effects of the heads in a spacesuit helmet, and whether we want to slightly humanise things or just go alien gonzo and have the audience keep up because despite being a spacefaring revenge story this is also pretty high emotional stuff.
INKED PAGES SCRUB – Sami Kivela delivered into my face a complete set of inked pages for DEER EDITOR #2 [yes, it is happening!] and so I sat down with a cup of coffee, the inks in a pdf, and the script on the right of the screen, and I ensured once more than all was good [Sami is a thumbnailing master so I knew most everything was already tight] and then I also tweaked some dialogue/captions in the script as I looked at the timbre of Sami’s art – especially because Sami’s faces are so emotive and spectacular that I find I can start slicing words away like Edward Scissorhands getting his back alley barber on.
FINAL SCRIPT PROOF AND SCRUB – Seeing as how Sami was done with DE #2, I thought I’d sent the script for #3 [which closes this story] to him, so before doing that I looked over the script, tweaked a few lines, gave it a good spit polish, and then sent it across for him to get to.
KICKSTARTER PREP – Am going to be running a Kickstarter campaign in the first quarter of the year and so I’m writing the campaign page, emails to peeps about it, notes and battle plans to myself. I did this well with DEER EDITOR #1 way back when and that wasn’t by accident. You gotta put a whole mess of thought and battle into these things because you don’t make a plan to fail but you can sure as shit fail to plan.
UNTITLED ANTHO PITCH – I was invited by a mate to pitch to an anthology type deal he’s wrangling and so I stewed on the basic premise for a week and then got an idea, so noted it down, and then took half an hour to slap it about the face a little like it was an old school interrogation, and then I got some good stuff out of it.
I walked away for a few nights, did some other things, and then came back and wrote the pitch into my email and edited as I went. I sent it through and should be scripting next month, I hope.
NOIRVEMBER 2015 EBOOK LAUNCH – I put out an ebook of my Noirvember posts [all 30 of them – right HERE] and that took me formatting the document, adding some little pieces of back matter and such for the chapters, going through the fine print at Smash Words and joining up and making it all ready to happen, and then preparing some posts and launch stuff in prep for it.
EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS – I’m teaching a 2 hour workshop around ‘Breaking Story’ at ACAF in my hometown so there was the vomit draft of what I would want to cover in those two hours, then breaking it into parts for a lesson plan, and then drafting all the presentation and activity materials.
I’m also teaching a creative writing extension class for gifted youths every second Saturday of first semester and so needed to prepare the first lessons in greater details [in the same manner I created the workshop lesson above].
PITCHING @ [REDACTED] – I had a pitch with an editor at a publisher and he was digging it so we smacked some notes/edits back and forth and finally he had a document to take up the chain.
I find editing/redrafting pitch docs to be the absolute worst. It’s hard enough to write a concise and meaningful synopsis in a short amount of space but then when you start fiddling with it the little things you tweak and/or remove/add start messing with the beast as a whole, so you constantly have to be scrubbing to ensure you haven’t left remnants of some defunct plot thread from Draft 2 still in your latest file.
It’s laborious, and not something you want to phone in, and I find it has me in hour long loops of staring at my screen, walking away in disgust, and eating copious amounts of toast while standing in my kitchen.
PITCHING WITH [REDACTED] – have been assembling a pitch with a super rad artist and so I’ve been tweaking character bios and little things on my end to make sure our pitch doc is superb.
BREAKING STORIES – I’m deep into breaking [THE BEATING HEART PROJECT] and so I’m asking the meaningful questions about character motivations and looking at possible branching off moments for the narrative. It’s a time sink but we always have to have new ideas in our back pocket lest an editor come knocking at the front door.
I’ve also gone from inception of [THE GOLIATH PROJECT] during my #366stories challenge to toying with it, to mapping it out, to asking it all the hard questions and just holding it in my fist and squeezing and seeing what comes out between my knuckles. I feel like I’ve got it 90% there, it just needs that value add. I always think of SAGA, because that story is simple as hell. But it’s the accourtrements of style and world that Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan brings to it that make it masterful.
And I’ve also ripped [THE SLEEPCHANGE PROJECT] outta my #366stories – it was a loose one, a situation, really – and built a great character, world, problem, antagonist, and finale out of it. It took nights of notebook notes, lines like “Shane Black in a PKD undertow” are totally useful, right? I’ve lined up an artist I wanna ask for this, I wanna go OGN bande dessinee style with it, so the next thing I gotta write after a tight synopsis is an email to him.
#366stories – Every day just pushing another one of these out the door. Rarely more than five minutes but it’s something – and something always adds up.
THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE – I write a weekly email newsletter which you can find here. It’s usually under 2k words, and it’s got a general update on me, some thoughts, some links to things I dug, some stuff I’ve been imbibing recently that jazz my creative juices up, and then a post-credits ditty.
It’s fun, loose, doesn’t take forever, but I enjoy it so I give it the time.
CHALLENGER COMICS SHORT – I’ll got a short comic up at Challenger Comics [for the site in general, go read all their things] and so I prepped some things around that – site write up, usual malarkey, annotations, etc.
Not a large job but yet another thing I had to do, and another thing that wasn’t scripting.
CHUM LAUNCH – a lot of 2016 has been about prepping for the launch of CHUM, my creator owned book with Sami Kivela, Mark Dale, Nic J Shaw, and Dan Hill at ComixTribe. It launches in April, the whole mini is finished, so I’ve been drafting solicitation copy, and press interviews, and back matter material, and a million emails for it all.
You can download a free 24 page digital preview ashcan for it right here.
When you launch a comic, you want/need to do it right, so I’ve been committing quite a bit of brain to this, so it’s something that looms large on the horizon. I want to do all I can to ensure you are preordering this book and needing this story in your life.
NEGATIVE SPACE #3 DROPPED – I had the third issue of my book from Dark Horse with Owen Gieni land and so I was emailing press and peeps with it, I was compiling review links and pull quotes from them. It’s all part of the gig.
ymmv – and then there’s this column. A fortnightly blast of, well, I don’t even know what this is. Part collection of possibly helpful thoughts, part confessional, all arbitrary, all rolled in grains of salt. I find, once I’ve got my angle, that these roll out pretty well, but they are just yet another thing to add to the chorus.
So when I tell myself I haven’t been writing and I should just give up and bury myself in a man-sized bag of Cheezels and mainline all of the FARGO tv show then I need to remind myself of all these things, because they are all [or should be] moving the needle, and they are all part of the job. So slow down, do them, do them properly, and do your job.
Though I really am itching to write more PAGE ONE, PANEL ONE some time soon otherwise I will start putting it on my mirror in red lipstick or carving it into tree trunks…or worse.
Ryan K. Lindsay is a comics writer who has logged time at Dark Horse, Monkeybrain, Vertigo and other esteemed publishers. He currently writes Negative Space, a comic we here at Loser City love quite a bit. You can (and should) pick Negative Space up from your local comic shop ordirectly through Dark Horse.