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Thursday, August 05, 2004

So, no sooner do I profess to having writer's dread and being unable to write anything interesting, than Ken Lowery decides to link to my site. Thanks a bunch, Ken!

(just kidding, I always appreciate being linked to).

[image copyright Marvel Comics, or something like that]

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Man, it's hard to get started again. I went something like three or four months, opening discussions here at the shop (almost) every weekday. Even though I usually just posted knee jerk reactions/reviews to every movie or TV show that I watched or talked some smack about comics, the fact is I was writing and I had some measure of discipline in doing so. And for those of you who've known me for a long time, that's a Big Deal, even if it wasn't exactly creative writing.

Back in the day, I used to write short stories or opening chapters of what I projected to be The World's Greatest Novel with some frequency. Once upon a time, I even sketched out about two years worth of stories for a "new" x-men-related comic boook that I wanted to write, focusing on some of the lesser known denizens of Marvel's mutant-verse (by sketched out, I mean I plotted the character arcs for each character and a few story arcs to lead the characters to where I knew they had to go). I kept a notebook by my bed and sketched out semi-realized characters, themes or image patterns which only lacked a story, and story "hooks" which none of my characters would fit into (I've always been better at characters, themes and images than I have with plot or setting). I had a couple of big ideas for novels that I knew I didn't have the skill to pull off, so I never started them for fear of "wasting" the idea on something I knew wouldn't do it justice. I rarely, if ever, shared these writings with anyone. If I happened to share some of it with you, I'm not sure if you should consider yourself blessed or cursed.

Sometime during my senior year of college, I came to the conclusion that everything I had ever written sucked, and I was never going make a living writing fiction (a lifelong dream that I've harbored as long as I can remember). So, I took all of my notepads and my discs filled with incomplete stories and burned them. No backups, no copies, no more physical reminders of my inadequacy. I also stopped writing anything creative or for fun. Somewhat ironically, I think I was on my way toward being a heck of an essayist; I've re-read my college papers since then and I think some of them are actually pretty decent. Unfortunately, I allowed myself to be far too easily dissuaded from the academic life by a professor with whom I had had near constant personality clashes throughout college; I knew he didn't think much of me, but I let him influence me.

In the seven years since college, I've found myself in a series of jobs in which writing and/or editing featured prominently. However, I always managed to avoid doing any writing for myself, usually using the excuse that I spent my days sitting in front of a computer, so why would I want to spend my nights the same way? I know/knew that was an excuse, but it was easier than facing my fears and actually writing again, only to find that I still wasn't any good.
Instead of writing, then, I read. A lot. Books, comics, magazines, web sites, shampoo bottles, you name it, I read it. Some of what I read was very good, others not so good (I have yet to read a particularly well-written or even entertaining shampoo bottle), but everything I read filtered into my consciousness and (I hope) influenced the way I wanted to write.

And so it was that in early 2003, I discovered the world of blogging through Dirk Deppey's late, lamented Journalista and his blogroll of comics and semi-comics bloggers. Here was an easy way to practice writing, and hopefully hone my craft, with the added benefit of having an audience (or perceiving to have an audience) which would (again hopefully) demand that I produce something reasonably worthwhile almost daily or I'd lose their interest. I know that not all "writers" feel this way, but the easiest, and these days the only, way for me to write anything is to feel like I have a deadline, or at least like I'm writing with a purpose, and the readers of my blog created that purpose. Even better is that with a blog, I could even get instant feedback through the comments or cross-blog discussions, which would let me know how I'm doing (or at least that I'm being read).

I blogged a few entries right before I moved in summer 2003, for an audience of mainly my friends (who all started blogs at about the same time), but after the move I quickly lost the feeling for the deadline and developed a sense of writer's dread (which I talk about here). Finally, through the instigation of my friend Will, whose Be The Boy is updated almost daily, and the realization that some of my old posts weren't half bad (they're only half Brad), I started blogging again in March. I got into the groove, had the time and was driven by the self-imposed daily posting deadline. I even, almost inexplicably, started getting linked to from the Comics Weblog Update-a-tron, which increased my readership from a dozen or so friends to as many as 100 unique hits a day. I was in a rhythm, and even though I rarely posted anything too personal (or if I did, I almost always took it down shortly after posting it), it felt good to be writing again. Sometimes, I even got that feeling that "real" writers talk about where I just couldn't type fast enough to get everything in my head down on virtual paper.

A few of my friends commented to me that I must have a lot of time on my hands, to update every day with pretty long reviews of crappy movies and the like. That may be the case, but to me blogging was writing, just about the only thing I've ever felt passionate about, and it was worth making time for. Yes, my writing still has some kinks in it, like too many parentheticals and arguably too many commas, but I feel really good about some of my best posts and pretty good about most of the rest.

Sadly, when I moved back to Texas last month, I lost my groove. I find myself starting posts but leaving them unfinished. I write long entries and then delete them withot posting them because I think they suck. I worry that I want to talk about comics too much for some of my readers, and not enough for others. I'm concerned whether I really have anything to say, or if I'm just another "spherical" blogger who spends my time complaining about everything and has no sense of humor, or if it even matters at all. I can make all the excuses in the book for not posting, but, fundamentally, it's the old writer's dread creeping up on me again. I'm working on it, so bear with me.

Thanks for reading.

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