Friday, September 10, 2010
Thirty Pages In Thirty Days
I turn thirty in just over a month (October 21st) and to be honest, it's got me a little rattled. I'm not having an early mid-life crisis. You won't see me driving a new sports car or going on a "bro's only" ten day trip to Las Vegas, not that I could afford those things anyway. But to say it's not having a similar effect on me would be a lie.
When I was younger, thirty seemed far enough away that I just assumed I'd have my entire life worked out by then. At twenty-nine, I can safely say I'm nowhere near having everything figured out. Hell, there are days when I don't feel like I have anything worked out at all. Almost a month away from this milestone year and I'm unemployed, broke and at times completely directionless.
When I left high school, I thought I'd be in college for four years and after that I'd just, well, BE a writer. Sure, there'd be hardships, pitfalls along the way, but it was nothing a genius kid from the sticks couldn't handle. It turned out to be a hell of a lot more than I could handle. Or maybe it was just more than I was willing to handle. Let's face it, to know me is to know a picture of ennui. I can be one of the most pessimistic, cynical and, well, lazy people on the planet at times. I get frustrated, I get discouraged, I let myself believe in the worst possible outcome in all situations.
Okay, so, I'm being hard on myself. I'm not always like that, though I am capable of falling into some pretty long stretches of self-doubt and inactivity. Like, say...21-25. That's a pretty long stretch, right? Over the years, I've probably spent as much time talking about being a writer as I have actually writing. That has changed in the last couple of years, as I've taken a more active stance on making this writing for a living thing actually happen, but for years it just seemed like a pipe dream, or, maybe just something I'd get around to eventually. I always wrote, but it was mostly for myself.
A couple of things shook me up lately though. First, a friend told me that the stories in my head weren't for me, that they were for everyone and that I'd be cheating everyone by not allowing them to see these stories. That hit me pretty hard, because its correct. All these notebooks full of worlds that I've built, all these google docs full of half-written pitches and unfinished scripts, what is their purpose? What's a story that never gets told? Worthless, that's what. It's not helping anybody or inspiring anybody just sitting there collecting cobwebs, virtual or not.
The second bit of posterior fire-lighting came from another friend, who essentially told me, while drunk, that I had to shit or get off the pot. He told me, in no uncertain terms, that my pitches are great but that my scripts were not. Not that he was being mean, he was just being honest (maybe a bit more honest because of the inebriation). I have a knack for world-building, but I am still so green that I need to hone my chops. I need to be able to tell a story in this language of comics, and that means scripts that just knock the shit out of an editor and make he or she say, "Yes, grab this guy an artist, pay this man a small sum to do something awesome." Right now, I can speak this language, but I'm not a master of it. Anything less than a mastery means I'm just a fan for the rest of my life.
I'm not okay with that.
So here I am, staring down the barrel of THIRTY YEARS OLD like it's a nickel-plated harbinger of doom. Maybe it's not though. Maybe it's like the Death card in a tarot deck, ominous to be sure, but not necessarily a signifier of bad things to come. So in the interest of appeasing my constructively critical friends and making serious strides toward being the creator I want to be, I've decided to challenge myself.
I've got just slightly more than thirty days before I hit the big 3-0. In that time, I'm going to write thirty pages. Sound easy? Maybe it will be. Maybe it will be frustrating, terrifying and hard. Maybe it will be fun. I'm certain, no matter what, that it will be constructive. The thing about this is, I don't want to do it alone. So I'm not issuing this challenge just to myself, but also to any creator out there, professional or otherwise, that wants to give this a shot.
Here it is: Thirty Pages In Thirty Days
Starting Monday September 13th (I'm aware this is NFL opening weekend and many of you won't pay attention to this at all if I start it tomorrow) I want to see a page a day for thirty straight days. I'm going to be doing this myself and posting my progress here at Surfing the Bleed. If you want to engage in this exercise as well, then you can e-mail me your progress and/or get in touch with me on Facebook or Twitter. Now there are no hard rules here. If you want, you can write thirty one page stories, a la Wednesday Comics. If you feel so inclined, you can right a 22-page one shot and an 8-page back-up. Maybe you're feeling ambitious and you want to write the first thirty pages of your epic graphic novel. Whatever you decide, I want thirty scripted pages before my thirtieth birthday. Consider it a present to me. You all love me, right?
So there's the challenge. Are you up to it? Am I?