Last Sunday, the writers’ club meeting started in identical fashion to the previous one: I arrived first, despite the best efforts of heavy rain and clusterfucked traffic, as well as being 30 miles away. I persuaded the hostess of Fred 62 that the rest of the party was “parking” so she sequestered me at a table in the back, serviced by a winsome waitress in racy stockings. After a few testy exchanges via iPhone, the rest of the gang arrived: Erik & then Bob bringing up the rear. We cut through the fat and through the breakfast dishes like nothing before we got to the meat of the meeting.
Bob started first with a paper on the power of writing – which may end up as a manifesto of our writing club. It was full of insights and delectable wisdom distilled from the sweat and ink of a wordsmith’s lifeblood. Next, he pulled out a dialogue between two interlocutors on how to say/sign black & white/white & black. Should be a contender for a potential full length play.
Erik was next with his first draft of a play that is meant for Deaf West After Hours: The ‘R’ Word, a snapshot of the contemporary battle of sexes at a pick-up joint between a woman & a guy way too honest for his own good. For a first draft it seemed to require very little editing – other than an extra character or an extra emphasis on the “r” word in the dialogue. Fearless prediction: his will inspire much honest discussion afterward in the lobby of Deaf West theater.
By that time we had long overstayed our welcome – consumed the food and gulped down extra cups of coffee and water. So we moseyed over to House of Pie and simultaneously bit into pies & my offerings of sacrifice: the next chapter in my graphic novel. Erik pointed out a couple of lines that did not carry the action and seemed redundant. Bob, with reservations that the story largely appealed to those with esoteric knowledge of mythology, also mentioned that a mystic would never step up on a soapbox and give a pat answer that neatly solved a conflict.
Great advice that I need to reconsider going forward. However, after I mentioned this to Andrew, a fellow artist who is working on a graphic novel of his own (a supernatural western), he insisted that there was no point in attending a writer’s club in order to improve the quality of my dialogue, because creativity has nothing to learn from criticism. He says that by forging ahead full speed with the comic, I will learn more from the craft itself than an intellectual joust with other writers, who themselves weren’t comic book writers, and may have tastes that are wholly inimical to the goals of the project.
He is right – but only regarding my artwork. That is something I’ve worked on for a very long time, a craft I’ve nurtured over time and developed a style of my own. By now I have developed into my own worst critic regarding my artwork, which in turn makes the criticisms of others nearly immaterial. But writing is an entirely different ball of wax, a field I haven’t truly captured a voice. The feedback I got Sunday was very useful: they spotted the flow and ebb, and where the story sputtered and stuttered.
Conclusion? This project is my own creation, and I am entirely responsible for the process. Feedback is great, as long I don’t become too reliant on it. The writer’s club is full of interesting people with their own insights that I would not have come up on my own in my limited time.
2 thoughts on “On writing: own the process”
Sounds like a nice club you've got there. I remember reading your account of an earlier meeting. Is it just the three of you or are there others?
Uh, firstly, dumbing down the mythology of a comic book based on gods and goddesses seems like a really bad idea. It's the strongest part of the comic. What do you care if people have a total knowledge of mythology? If people don't know, then they can ask questions and find out more about it. You think JRR Tolkien cared if people had an understanding of mythology when he wrote lord of the rings?
Secondly, I thought that's what Mystics did. Sat on rocks as gave nicely wrapped solutions to difficult conflicts. Why else be a fucking mystic?