Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

I got Rust in my Process

Wait, bad translation – trust in the process.

Dan Hill has been saying this to me for years. And he’s been right every time. Chuck Wendig just now, at that link above, chimed in. The writing process is a hell of a thing, and it feels designed to break you, for some unknown reason. Every time you stumble, falter, it feels like the first time.

I think writing is like love. In hindsight you see the good, you see the bad, you see it all and you don’t die for every part of it. But in the moment, oh man, I’m a mess. I catastrophise, I glorify, I obfuscate [even from myself], and I have no clue. I’m lost, like it’s my first time, and I can’t get a clear view. And I don’t think I’d have it any other way.

I’m constantly hitting a wall in my stories where I’m absolutely certain I’ve borked it. Sometimes it comes early, sometimes late. Right now I’m breaking a story with an artist, and I’ve already gone through this phase. Right now I’m also writing a script for a #6 issue and I have the same feeling. It’s ridiculous, but it’s only because I want the best story possible.

I say this a lot, but a story can work, the acts can all be in the right place, and the story clicks – but that doesn’t mean it’s worth a damn. A character wanting something, being unable to get it, and then overcoming something to get it is a story, but it won’t always be a good one. So I dig deeper, I try to better understand all the elements, and the more I discover, the less I know what to do with it all.

But it always seems to come together in the end. I remember NEGATIVE SPACE #1 had, I think, nearly a dozen drafts, which takes me to a direct quote from Wendig:

“The first draft — and in particular the first 5-10k of that first draft — is just me chopping vegetables. It’s prep. It’s learning the recipe. It’s dumping out the puzzle pieces. It’s wandering through a new house in the dark, learning its layout, its topography, and how not to break my pinky toe on the fucking coffee table.”

Those first issues are where all the hard work is done, it’s all set up, and from memory NEGATIVE SPACE #4 only had like 3-4 drafts, because by then you’ve got the story and tone and voice and other conventions sorted. Then you just make the magic happen.

So when I’m breaking a story, I just have to give myself permission to go wandering in it. I’m discovering the landscape, slowly mapping it out, and to respect what I find I’m going to need to take my time.

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You can find content like this, sometimes, on my weekly newsletter: tinyletter.com/ryanklindsay

I’m also making comic book study guides on Patreon!

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What’d You Write As A Kid?

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a writer.

My house was awash in words, we read voraciously, we wrote as exploration. Before the age of ten, I declared I would grow up to be a writer [and a teacher]. And here I stand, both.

I teach kids now who I can easily see being writers when they grow up, they’re good with words, they like to express ideas and thoughts, and I know some of them will get there. I see my job as an opportunity to guide them, to tell them it’s possible, and to enjoy the ride with them.

I often think this means I have to push them into a specific writing path, or push them to finish, or push them at all. I think that’s wrong. Or, probably more accurately described as misguided.

My job is to be there with them, to make it enjoyable.

I started thinking about my own childhood history with writing. What did I write? How often? About what? Why?

I remember writing some short stories, and they were always wet trash. But I enjoyed the challenge. I wouldn’t always finish them, which I constantly took as a sign of failure – and here I sit upon a throne of failed pitches, and unfinished documents, and I see the fallacy of that idea. All writing is practice for the one that finally makes it through. Everything builds up to it.

I thought I’d be a novelist, so I tackled prose fiction. But I also had a hankering to be a journalist, so I wrote weird articles. I was a massive basketball fan, so I’d watch games and take notes so I could write newspaper articles after the game. I don’t think I ever finished one of those articles, but just aiming to do it was a clear sign as to where my head was at. I’d type up fake basketball game statistics, like you’d find in Basketball Digest.

I also kept a book where I’d write reviews of movies I’d watch. They’d get a rating, a short review, and I don’t even know if I ever considered an audience for this stuff. Man, I was decades ahead of Letterboxd and the like.

I bounced in and out of words, I kept notepads and notebooks of ideas and thoughts and reviews and stories, and it was all building my skill set.

I now see kids who write all kinds of things outside of school; stories, journals, reports. Inside school we write; stories, newspapers, websites, podcast scripts, we turn comic pages into narratives, and make poems out of amazing titles.

I want to make writing fun. I had a blast writing my stupid basketball articles and movie reviews. I liked writing a newspaper front page with a movie review, and a fake article. I thought my short stories were ace, right up until the point where I knew they weren’t and I walked away.

I wonder what other people wrote when they were kids. I wonder what we still let ourselves write now as adults.

The exploration of the world through words is a hell of a thing. We should all do it from time to time.

CURRICULUM is live – sci fi webcomic 3 times a week!

Exciting times to be alive [and reading comics on the internet].

CURRICULUM is the story of an intergalactic class trying to get home from a field trip that goes, well, it goes pretty bad.

It’s got a wide cast, big ideas, and a rotating roster of writers and artists. The world/cast was created by me, Dan Hill, and Sami Kivela, and the first issue has Marissa Louise on colours and Ironbark on letters.

After us comes a cavalcade of talent, including: Danny Djeljosevic, Josh George, Ben Rosenthal, Daniel J Logan, Bryan Coyle, and more to come even after that. This comic has been years in the making, bubbling on the back burner a long while. Now, it is free.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE OPENING PAGES OF CURRICULUM

This comic is a love letter to old EC Sci Fi comics, with hints of Runaways and other insanity mixed in. We hit the ground running, and we’ve done our best to constantly throw new things at you, have fun, and give you every reason to return 3 times a week for new pages, or sign up for email blasts on the sidebar of the site.

CURRICULUM – a sci fi periodical slice of madness. Enjoy.

CICADA – Sublime Social Discourse, Y’know, For Kids

There is so much contained within this book, and like a cicada, it’s just waiting to burst out from beneath the surface. You need this book in your homes, in your classrooms, and in your hearts.

Shaun Tan is a wild genius, and sometimes he does it with a lot – glorious words, hyper-detailed and strange art – and here he does it with so little. The art is still beautiful, and what words there are sing off the page, but it’s his mastery of control and surreal commentary that make this a modern masterpiece about modern culture as we live in it.

The story is about a cicada that works as an office drone, is unappreciated by the humans in whose world he lives, and it’s all very bleak and subdued. From here, Tan comments on modern capitalist society, and how downright boring it is, and why we should abhor such an existence, and he does it so effectively that I’m hard pressed to think of a better literary burn on what a waste most of what we consider “modern living” is. The final words would be haunting, if not for the fact they made me laugh so much.

This is a book with heady themes present, and every adult will connect on a very real level, but kids should be exposed to this kind of thinking. They should have it unpacked for them.

S P O I L E R S

Cicada is about whether we’re getting busy living, or getting busy dying. It’s about city living versus getting back to nature. It’s about putting the goals of necessity before our happiness. It’s about how we’re getting it all wrong.

The titular cicada is completely downtrodden, ignored, bullied, and cast aside. It’s horrible. But doesn’t this happen to us all when you really think about it? It might not be obvious, or explicit, but most of the time it doesn’t hurt to consider if we’re making any difference, and if that impact has any real staying power. Or do we live, consume, die, and the world turns on?

It sounds horrible, and it really kinda is, so the story offers a solution of sorts.

The cicada, retired, already forgotten, walks to the roof of the building in which it lives as well as works and it splits open. A blade of red light appears, and the true cicada form emerges, naked of the business attire, and it returns back out to nature where it started. More importantly, where it belongs.

The theme of the story is that we should be doing what we are meant to be doing. We should be connecting with nature, we should be living and working within our means, we should be putting happiness ahead of…I don’t know, progress, bland citizenship, money.

It’s better to live as a cicada in the wild, happy, than grind through an endless life in the city and be a millionnaire.

The book leaves us with the cicada’s blistering assessment – it has left the city, to return to its kind, and sometimes they think about the humans, and they laugh.

This stopped me, and I had to laugh, but I was stopped nonetheless. Yes, they laugh, at our ludicrous existence, and Tan hits the nail on the head.

We’ve got it all wrong.

But this book is a step in the right direction, in a way. It’s a book to share, to come together for, to discuss, to open our minds and hearts, and to change our futures.

We should be doing what we’re supposed to be doing, not what we’re told we should be doing, or what we’ve told ourselves to believe we should be doing.

Weighed down by all of t h i s ? Then shed your skin and let’s get started.


CICADA by Shaun Tan is no doubt available at every good book store near you. Google one and find it and support your local bookseller.

 

Think On Paper

I read a great newsletter recently which linked me to a great article that I think was paraphrasing another great writer’s quote, which was:
Think on paper.
And I could not agree more.
I love digital citizenry, I work in Google Docs, I have lists on Keep, I’ve got apps for one thing, and extensions for another.
But there is merit to the thinking that we think differently on paper. Our brains work better, I believe, with the open wild canvas of pristine paper. Or not pristine, gnarled up old napkins, grid paper in a notebook. Whatever works for you, but I think when I step back from the internet machine, and I just pencil in thoughts and words and connections and questions, my brain opens up more.
Which is why I plot in a notebook.
But I think subconsciously I thought I’d get “better” at it, it would come quicker, the story would only take two iterations in a notebook to come together.
It hasn’t.
I still make pages and pages of notes. I still write the synopsis out a dozen times, in different formats – sometimes a linear blurt of events, sometimes broken into subheadings of issue numbers, and sometimes in character columns.
This is how my brain pieces it all together. I have to think “out loud,” as it were, on the page. Then I can ask myself stupid questions, and scribble things out, but still keep one eye on them, and draw lines between things and add question marks when I’m not certain.
I’ll eventually form it all into boxes, one per issue, and all the pertinent info is there to then beat up a page by page breakdown, but that thinking process, I have to trust in it. It feels laborious, I’m going through pencils like it’s a bad habit, but it’s my path to wherever my stories end up.
Getting better at this doesn’t mean getting the story right and completed in the first draft of the plot.
Hell, getting better probably means more pages, making it better, over more time, and asking more dumb questions.
I’m not going to get faster, but I can hopefully get better. So that first plot outline I attempt, man, it’s just the wire framework. The hard work hasn’t even begun, and if I remember that, I won’t feel like a failure, and I won’t stress as much, and I’ll go in a little looser. We should always stretch before vigorous plotting, and it’s okay to get loose.

Looking above, this post isn’t amazing, I typed it straight into the online box, there was no thinking on paper. But I can’t get you to subscribe to what I pencil into my notebooks [though with a rocket journal, maybe that could work…hrmm?] so I guess this’ll have to do.

These types of thoughts usually also appear in my newsletter, give it a sub for weekly thoughts about writing, and the writing life, if that’s your jam.

Why You Should Subscribe To My Newsletter

I send out an email newsletter every week on the Monday – it’s called THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE.

And here is why you should subscribe to it, if you already haven’t.

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This newsletter is all about my writing life. If you’re interested in me, this is The Place to get your up-to-date info. If you’re a writer, hopefully I can share some high quality writing thoughts, or link to good writing vibes, or just keep our minds collectively spinning on this writing game.

I honestly care about this newsletter. I realised a while back this infodump was my weekly therapy. This was where I shared and bared my soul. If you’re after honesty and insight, this is where you’ll find it most raw from me.

I drop all the latest news. This latest edition alone I’ll be talking about: this latest pitch I’m putting together, some of the awesome Patreon content I’m prepping [and how much damn fun it’s all been], why I keep on writing one-shots, why my next two books aren’t ready because of how awesome they’re gonna be, and why I maybe kinda quit twitter this week.

The newsletter is the safe place for all this, it’s the all-access behind-the-curtain champagne room in my writing club. IT’s the place that matters the most.

I’ll link you up. I keep a list of the good stuff I read this week, some good crowdfunding malarkey from around the traps, and why what I’m reading/watching is nudging me towards being a better writer/reader/viewer each time. I want to unpack my thoughts on paper [as it were], and I’m happy if that ever helps anybody else dislodge one quality thought in their brain.

I wish to be free of this wild wheel on which we find ourselves. Man, social media sucks. Trolls, algorithms, huge profits that have to be coming from somewhere [if you can’t buy a product then YOU are the product, etc]. I love twitter, but it’s also a sinkhole. I’d be stoked if I could survive on the newsletter, and then my Patreon [with the odd Kickstarter], and maybe Goodreads thrown in for good measure.

This is why I want to see you over at THE TWO FISTED HOMEOPAPE – because that’s where I want to call home. Safely in your inbox, ready for whenever you want, and hopefully a delight to read, a fuel for the brain, and an elixir for the heart.

If you’ve got a newsletter, let me know, I love reading ’em as much as I love writing ’em. And if you wanna know what any of these pictures below really are all about, you gotta come join me, we’ll have a blast!

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Hope this wets your whistle.

Patreon’s First Month

I gotta admit – I’m loving running this Patreon.

The primary goal is to make Comic Book Study Guides – a purpose that already excites me, 100%, but then it’s also becoming a place where I can dump more process thoughts and other educational malarkey involving comics.

The plan, right now, is to run one season, 12 months of Study Guides, and then we can take things from there. So, with our first month closed, I wanted to reflect on what’s on offer.

2 x Comic Book Study Guides

I released a guide for ETERNAL [by me, Eric Zawadzki, Dee Cunniffe, and Dan Hill], and one for GHOSTS [by Raina Telgemeier – so one is adult shieldmaidens and ghosts, and the other is all ages friendly and a tale of growing up and accepting death…and also ghosts.

1 x Podcast Study Episode

I recorded and released a podcast episode where I unpack some aspects of the guide for ETERNAL, and generally open up some deeper thoughts about the book’s theme.

Comic Script Library Access

I give out a link to a folder full of scripts, pitches, and other insanity I’ve cooked up over the years [some my best ever work, some insane sophomore stuff].

3 x Process Notes

I’ve written about Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL and it’s gorgeous pacing, I’ve given out a free lesson around Frank Quitely’s TED Talk using a Google Form, and I’ve written about how Frank Miller scripted DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN and how that translated to David Mazzuchelli’s art.

2 x One Page Script Commissions

Oh, yeah, I had a blast typing up two single page script commissions – about two wildly different things – and sending them off in the mail.

All of these things are work, they take time, but I like the way they sit in my head. Analysing comics is professional development for a comic writer, and it’s just fun for a guy like me. I’d rather do this than scroll Facebook again, or write an extra 500 words into my newsletter [yeah, the newsletter will probably take the odd slide because of this, I’d rather give deeper process cuts here than on the newsletter for now, sorry].

If you haven’t checked out my Patreon yet, here it is!

And if you aren’t going to back it, I’d love to know what’s holding you back, and how I can help remove that barrier. I think pledging $5 a month is no small ask, but for that you get 2 Study Guides, 1 podcast ep, and access to whatever and however many process notes and posts I end up putting up there.

Patreon Launch – Comic Book Study Guides

Okay, I’m now officially in the business of making Comic Book Study Guides

YOU CAN SUPPORT MY PATREON HERE FOR THE FIRST SEASON OF THIS DEEP THINKING RESOURCE

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I’m excited.

I want to see comics taught in more classes, I want people thinking more deeply about what they read. I want to guide people to bigger questions and themes, but ultimately I want them seeking these things out and finding them without me.

These Comic Book Study Guides are documents that offer up guides for discussion and rich analysis, as well as some specific tasks students/readers can complete.

Support at the basic tier and you get two guides a month for $1.50 each.

I’ll also create one podcast episode a month unpacking one of those Study Guides and what’s in it, so that could also be a decent teaching/thinking resource.

I’ll open up my Comic Script PDF Library to backers, and I’m also offering a One Page Script Commission where I’ll type/print a one page script and mail it to you, so this is for those who really want to support and give me something to chew on.

But if you just want the guides, well, they’re affordable for a reason – hook in. I’m just making these for one year, a full season, and come what may after that.

HAVE A LOOK AT MY PATREON

If you support, or share the link, or do anything that sends good waves to me, and good education about comics into the world, then I greatly appreciate it.

Comic Book Study Hall Patreon – Coming Soon!

I’m writing Study Guides for comics worthy of being studied, because everyone should study comics.

I’m launching a Patreon where you can get 2 Comic Book Study Guides each month for the next year, and I’m hoping to be able to add a podcast to the campaign you can use in the classroom.

I love comics, and I love teaching them, and I’d love nothing more than to see some more classrooms around the world use this opportunity to push a few more quality pages in front of students and those with wide open minds.

This is 100% aimed at teachers, but I also know as a reader and someone who just likes to study, these guides would be my jam anyway. I want these to be used for brains in flight, and that isn’t always in the classroom, it can be solo as you hone your craft.

I’ve written well ahead and have got guides for works from the likes of Fraction, Telgemeier, Rosenberg, and more – not to mention my own work, because I’m unbiased like that – you can buy the Guide for ETERNAL here – and buy the Guide for STAIN THE SEAS SCARLET here – but they’ll be much cheaper in the Patreon :]

I’ve been online for a decade now thinking about comics and writing and talking about them, and now I want to give something concrete out into the world.

The Patreon should launch next week. I think you’re gonna dig it, so be sure to get in and don’t miss a guide [it might even expose you to some ace new stuff to find] and if you know others who would use this in the classroom/life, then send ’em my way. I’ll help them out.

Here’s to a quality season of giving back to comics for the next generation.

Example Klaxon|

ETERNAL Study Hall Guide

I have finally done something in that cross section of comics/teaching/learning/process/nerdy/insane in which I desire to live.

I have written a Study Hall Guide for ETERNAL, and you can buy the digital copy right here!

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This guide helps you unpack the comic I created with Eric Zawadzki, Dee Cunniffe, Courtney Menard, and Dan Hill through Black Mask earlier this year.

I want it to be used by teachers, but also by interested readers, and by people who want to write and are considering how much thematic stuff to layer into their work.

I’ve really enjoyed making this study guide, and there will plenty more to come. Hold onto your butts, because we aren’t finished delving into the curriculum of comics just yet. But I hope you’ll start with me here, and maybe have a little educational fun.

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