Tuesday, July 7, 2015

'Thank you, Mark' or how I learned to stop worrying and love the process

There's this great interview with Mark Waid about process that I've been thinking about the past day or so.

It's here, it's a great read: http://craigengler.com/post/123377175532/writers-on-writing-mark-waid

Mark is hands down my favorite, and the most influential writer for me. Tom Clancy is up there, but Mark has written some of my favorite stories that solidified my love of comics and desire to tell stories. "The Return of Barry Allen" remains one of my favorite stories ever, and his run on Captain America is fantastic.

I've met him a handful of times, he likely doesn't remember, but I did give him a copy of Patriot-1 last year at Baltimore Comic-Con because I do believe you should give your work to those that inspire you. He's always very gracious and gives people the time of day. His politics and beliefs line up with mine, so following him on Twitter is always a joy. Also, he stands up for fellow creators, especially when they are bullied or harassed - a good example to follow. (He's doing it as I type this).

My process changes every time I write. I have no set way of writing and I never have and it's especially variable with three little kids. And I often question my process. I always have in my various incarnations as a writer. There's that "self-doubt" that writers speak of, and I often question myself and whether or not I'm doing it "right."

This has especially been the case with my past two projects.

Right now, I've been in the middle of plotting out and scripting my next Kickstarter project. A revival of the golden age hero The Atomic Thunderbolt. It's been milling for a couple of years, and I'm finally ready to move forward with it. It's a neat story set between World War II and the Cold War and The Atomic Thunderbolt is my favorite Golden Age one-hit wonder.

As I try to structure ideas in a composition notebook, it always starts out structured, breaking down the action on each page - even panels. Then it degrades into a rapid fire note scribble because I need to flesh out ideas that work and don't work. This notebook is never far. During the day, I take it to the gym with me and jot down the ideas between sets.

Then I can take it to script. Sometimes I go right to script and make it up as I go. I also thought this was just downright wrong, but there is no rule book on process, you have to just do what works.

But even at the script phase comes that doubt and wondering if my process works.

It's been prevalent lately. Maybe I feel the added pressure of having an award-winning book. An accomplishment I'm proud of and I want to hold myself to certain standards.

Then I read Mark's interview. It came during one of those self-doubt moments. And it's lit a fire.

There's so much quality advice in that interview. Being an admirer of Mark's, I've always wondered how he works and how the scripts churn. And best of all, there's so much I can relate to.

My wife and I bought our first house last year, I have an office space, a nice basement with toys, movies, collectibles, comics etc... but it's still the disorganized room. I can't work down there. So I literally sit at the kitchen table. I can jot down ideas all day, but the real writing comes at night, when my wife and kids are asleep and the cat is begging for treats.

Reading Mark's interview, I thought to myself "the process isn't important, the writing and the story is all that matters."

When he gets stuck he builds a LEGO set or something predetermined where you just have to follow directions. I turn to video games and movies, it's always helped for me and it's also good to immerse yourself in a fictional world to find the inspirations for your own.

I was just fascinated by the interview and the process of a writer whose work I greatly admire. It made me think about the similarities in my own process and how I need to stop worrying about doing things "right." The stories just have to be told and getting there is an adventure, whether you have a set path to your ending, or you just make it up as you go along.

So thank you, Mark, for continuing to inspire me.

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