Guess I really shouldn’t be surprised by the lack of curiosity aroused by last week’s mention of the SEEKRIT PROJEKT. The only nibble I got out of anyone was from the guy who edits the column (and he was only curious because I took so damn long to finish it and why, for a change, things weren’t misspelt.)
Like I said, I shouldn’t be surprised, primarily because this sort of whispering campaign generally doesn’t work worth a damn. Being subtle and coy doesn’t get you anywhere, does it? Readers want to see that you’re someone with guts, that you’ll put your name out on the line and get out in the trenches and actually DO SOMETHING. Clever asides and talking about it with your support group doesn’t count for anything. Neither do little trails of breadcrumbs trying to get folks to pick up on them and follow ‘em back to Grandma’s House.
So, lemme drop the whole SEEKRIT PROJEKT shtick. I’ll admit that I only came up with the clever misspelling after overdosing on Goon comics right after my column of a couple of weeks ago. Well, that and I like erring on the side of inbred idiocy. But like I said, we’re dropping this now. It was dumb and a spectacular failure in terms of generating any kind of outside interest. No more secret project. The wraps come off now.
I, like a number of other folks (a LARGE number, once you start looking at it) am working on a self-published comic project. Yep. My money is going where my mouth is. And my time, and my energy, and a number of other things. Anyone who’s read this column from the start (all glorious three months of it) may remember that I started out things here by exhorting the Epic hopefuls to not depend on the Epic program as being their way into the comics industry, but rather to take their projects (if and when they were rejected) on the path of self-publishing.
I’m taking my own advice (though I’ll note that I haven’t heard back from either of my Epic submissions at this time, so who knows?) and running with that ball. Who knows? Things may work out for either of my proposals, but I’m not going to sit and wait for it, either way. I’m moving forward with this.
And for those of you who’re curious, I’m not going to really talk about the substance of the project or the pitch right now. Okay. Well, just a little. It’s a western horror book. There’s been a few Westerns in the last couple of years, actually, which is encouraging, as it’s a genre that’s gotten short shrift up until recently. Okay, there’s that.
So first was the idea. Which you’ve just read above. Granted, it’s more fleshed out than that, but this is enough to run with. This is an idea that I’ve had for a number of years now, like an embarrassingly long time now that I think about it. From back before my career path took a number of twists and turns and far away from writing at all. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m back on it now.
So, there’s the idea. Following that is the story. And the story has gone through a lot of changes (and it’s still being revised even now.) I suspect it’ll go through a few more changes before I’m ready to hand it over to the artist, and that’s for the best, really. Because you might think that your first draft is really good, but unless you’re Alan Moore, there’s probably lots of room for improvement. Especially if you’re just starting out (again, in my case.) So, anyways, the first draft is out of the way. It read like a first draft and needed some surgery. Like triple-bypass level surgery.
Not a big deal. Rewrites are part of the game, if you want to do a good job. They’re frustrating as all hell at times, but they’re necessary. Anyone who tells you different is either a genius or lying (neither of which case is likely to apply to us writer-types, sadly.) That’s the bad part.
The good part is it gets a little easier. Kinda. Right now it’s still tough. Particularly the part about taking criticism. That always is no fun, and I don’t care who you are. Here you’ve worked on this thing and put your guts in it (if you’ve done anything resembling a professional job on it, that’ll be true) and then you hand it along to someone to read it.
If you’re very very lucky, you’ll get a useful reply out of them. Something like “The characters seem unmotivated and are just walking through the plot.” Or maybe even something that really stings like “That scene that you love so much, and I could tell that you really loved it because it went on and on… That scene has to go. And a bunch of others. And then you might have some room to explain what the heck is going on.”
That doesn’t sound like good luck to you, does it? Well, it is. Believe me. After getting (if any reply at all) criticism like “It’s good” or “It sucks” for so long (as I’ve gotten in the past on various net-forums going way back) a real critique is music to my ears. Working all by yourself with only the sound of the keyboard to keep you company gets down on you. When you’re starting out, you really NEED some kind of feedback (or at least I did, perhaps you’re a natural and none of the above applies to you; I’ll look forward to reading your work.) As much as it hurt, on the one hand, the honest critique that I’ve been getting back on the story is doing nothing but making it better and more readable (and clearer for the artist to actually draw, which is easy to forget at times).
And the person giving this critique? Believe it or not, it’s from the artist I’ve hooked up with. Real feedback from an artist who’s worked in comics for more than ten years? Yeah, the criticism might sting, but I’m learning a damn lot from it.
So yes, I’ve found an artist to work with. And that’s a story for later…