I’ve been in a writing slump since graduating college.
When I was a student, I felt strongly that I had something inside me worth writing about. Sure, there are plenty of writers who’ve written about losing a parent, but at the time that didn’t matter to me.
The collection of poetry that I’d worked tirelessly on perfecting throughout my graduate career had impact, purpose, and heart. It haunted me in all of the right ways, made me angry, kept me up at night. Finishing it—the whole process, from conception to publication—was like reaching the end of a marathon that I had very obviously under-trained for.
Then, I graduated in 2017. Flash forward three years: I have a full-time job with a company that treats me incredibly well. By all accounts, I’m a professional writer who crafts (and sometimes edits) copy for everything from internal emails and articles to video scripts and signage.
I was still committed to writing creatively at the start of my post-college career. Hindsight is 20/20, and I realize now that while I was prepared to grow as a person, I wasn’t prepared to grow as a writer. I thought I could keep writing the same kind of poetry that I was before (I have several notebooks filled to the brim with duds, and rejection letters from literary magazines bookmarked in my email).
And sure, I still write poems from time-to-time, though It might be more appropriate to say that I write lines of poetry. The struggle of fleshing out a poem has never been so difficult as it is for me right now. But that’s okay. The things that were tearing away at me as an angsty 22-year-old are tearing away at me no longer.
Often, folks remark that “they were entirely different people back then.” And while it’s cliché, it’s also often true. I am not the same person that I was three years ago. I would like to think that I’ve tempered (old Facebook posts are a testament to how uninformed and sheepish I was), but at the very least, I know for a fact I’ve become much harder on myself when producing creative works. The mental dilemma I keep encountering is this:
Brain: “Yo. You should write [INSERT IDEA HERE]!”
Me: “Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. Nice work, Brain!”
Brain: “NP, dude. Now let’s get chop-chop-choppin’ away at that draft!”
Me: “Sure thing, Brain. MS Word is open, let’s rumble.”
Brain: “Mmm—maybe not like that. That’s too much like [OTHER MEDIA]. And are you sure people actually talk like that? Oh, and that narrative jump is too much, too unbelievable. Are you really a writer? Did you peak? You really gonna keep using the same old tropes you’re cozy with? You can’t keep writing about [INSERT THING]. That’s cheating! You’re cheating and you’re doing it wrong!”
Me: “Y’know what, let’s just go play Animal Crossing: New Horizons. That’ll be nice. I can water my flowers and pay off that fat loan from Tom Nook.”
But, no more, I say. No matter how derivative, nonsensical, or otherwise bogus my attempt at writing a graphic novel is, I’m going to do it. Why a graphic novel, or comics generally, you might ask?
- There seems to be quite a bit of overlap between poetry and comics.
- Many of the writers I’ve come to admire in recent years are comic book creators.
- And, yeah. I love comics. Comics are literature.
So I’m going to do it. I’m going to produce six, 22-page issues over 12 months, culminating in the nastiest, ugliest draft of anything I’ve ever written come December 31st, 2020. I’m already 1/6th of the way toward my goal, with a rough draft of the issue #1 in the books. (Excerpt below.)
PAGE TWENTY-TWO – TWO PANELS
Noah curls up into his brother’s bed, tears streaming from his eyes, anger on his face. The room is dark, shadows swirling around him. And from the corner of the room—that mythic place where children see things, things that dance sensually, demonically, hauntingly throughout the night—an emaciated avian figure, feathered, scowling, reaching out to Noah in this time of crisis.
- NOAH (CAP): Even if it means…
- NOAH (CAP): Even if it means losing everything else, too.
Once it’s done, I may even have the audacity to find someone to illustrate the dang thing. Who knows.
But I’m ready to grow as a writer and a storyteller.
And that’s that.