Without Fear

Ryan K Lindsay – Writer

Maybe You Can’t Write It Today, But Tomorrow…

Three days ago, I had a scene in a script I didn’t mind at all. It wasn’t the shining gem of the issue but I had worked hard on this scene and I enjoyed much of it.

Two days ago, I realised the scene had to go and I was going to drastically rewrite it. I mapped out a plan and the five pages were planned loosely but in a way I thought was clear and would be fun/easy to write.

Last night, I started writing those five pages and found them incredibly hard. I managed to salvage much of the original first page so it cleared smoothly but the other four wouldn’t play ball. I found I could lay out the pages panel by panel but I could not fill them with anything except terrible terrible words. I hacked at these pages like I was taking a machete to the vines in the jungle and eventually went to bed annoyed that I didn’t nail any one of those four pages – and I also went to sleep wondering if maybe I had become a sub-par writer, y’know, maybe I had lost it. Maybe I’d never write a solid page again.

Note: seeing that the Page One still popped because it mostly used words written by a Ryan from weeks ago only seemed to reinforce the fact I had lost it for sure.

Today, while playing with the kids (cars and ramps and water pistols and snacks) I started getting little lines popping. I would periodically look at the woeful script pages I had and let them stew and then I’d get another little snippet. I’d race off and punch in a line, or a phrase. For some panels, I’d have 2-4 possible lines, I was slowly circling what I needed and how I needed it.

Cut to the kids having a nap/rest and I got half an hour to come into the office and so I quickly managed to string some lines together and now one page is nailed and the other three all sit very close. I just need another pass before they’ll feel cohesive and somewhat clever.

My lesson today/this week was; sometimes if you’re not able to write a scene then you won’t ever be able to write that scene…during that writing session. Work on something else, read a book, have a sleep, play with the kids, whatever. Admit defeat, retreat, reroute, and flank that script like it’s your job. Which, if you take this seriously enough, money be damned, it is.

This doesn’t work every time, I’ve broken scenes through persistence, but I also know scenes have broken me through my persistence so you need to allow yourself permission to walk away.

It’s like my knuckle tattoos always say: walk way and live to write another day.

The Rough Truth To Making Comics

Making comics in the early days is hard. You put in all this sweat and time and effort and then people don’t care, on the majority of things. You want to make a ripple but sometimes it feels like you threw a feather and it blew away on the wind and never touched the water.

It’s a pretty brutal octagon to enter and you have to be doing it for the heart of it and reading a recent paragraph from Tim Callahan in his WHEN WORDS COLLIDE exit interview (conducted by Chad Nevett) brought it all home to me. We are foolish, stubborn, insane, and delusional but we’d have it no other way. See what Tim says here about breaking into/making comics:

I’d go back to the creative stuff once in a while and try to fire up some old projects or connect with other folks to collaborate with — I mean, I do have a piece in that “Panels for Primates” anthology that Monkeybrain recently released, though that was written like four years ago — but the amount of work it takes to get a project going and the amount of — not rejection, but apathy you get just makes it all feel pointless. It’s not even frustrating, it’s just — nothing. That’s why the best advice everyone ever gives about “breaking into comics” is just a simple “Make comics, and don’t give up.” Because that’s all you can do. Many of the people making comics should have given up long ago, if they had any sense, and it’s just their stubborn persistence that gets them to the point where some of their work becomes publishable and they can make a reasonable living.



And he’s completely right, you can’t make indie comics for the ‘fame’ or ‘attention’ from it because there really isn’t any. Your book might only gets eyes in the double digits, to begin with. But with each release, each laborious short you post online or one-shot you shill at cons, you gain new double digit numbers, and if you are good enough those double digits of readers tell their friends and some people hit your links or your profile on ComiXology and slowly it all grows. And mind you, this’ll no doubt take years.

Eventually, you’ll find you’ve got a varied and slowly improving back catalogue of work to your name and you’ll be proud of some of it and you’ll have a small clique of people that will try things because of your name and suddenly you’re making comics for an audience. But to get to that point, you have to wade through anonymity like you’re Andy Dufresne. And you only get out the other end because you refused to stop crawling, and refused to go back, and you only know how to keep inching to that rain that will eventually clean you up and send you on your way to another new adventure. Most likely just in a new pipe.

And if you think those early days are the most fun, the most raw, something to remember and cherish, then you’ll probably go far.

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