Today’s various musings.
I’m sorry, readers, for again today, I’ve expected myself to have something to say and again I’ve shown up empty handed. A schedule like this is rather demanding, you see, and I fear I can only keep it up for so long before breaking down in a pile of wasted, weeping insanity from the stresses of having to write 1000 words a day all year. In a lot of respects, I suppose webcomics authors have it easier than I do. I was reading the TVTropes page on Schedule Slip today. It’s when creatives miss a deadline–sometimes by years. The examples on that page are downright shocking in some cases. Including one low detail, black and white comic that updated once in the entire calendar year of 2009. Once. And it wasn’t a book they updated with, it was four lone panels. And they weren’t even funny.
There are also official works where people get paid to release material on time, like the manga for Neon Genesis Evangelion. That’s been going on so long that I can’t even find a copy of the fourth volume in North America, but it’s still stuck at the beginning of the second-to-last episode. To re-iterate, an early volume is nearly out of print while it’s yet to be completed. Sadly, I’m a big fan of its alternate character interpretations as compared to the series and would like to read more of it. Too bad for me, I guess.
Yet, as I said before, webcomics creators have it easier than I do. How do I mean that? Well, first of all, their work has recognizable effort put into it. Anyone can write a wall of text every day on varied and interesting topics, but it takes real skill to draw and upload a gag-a-day strip on no fixed schedule. If I were to tell anyone I know to write 1000 words a day on anything, hell or high water, almost all of them would quit after the first three weeks. I know, because that’s when I first considered quitting my new update schedule of once-a-day. And it’s hard. It’s a hard damn schedule to maintain, but doing what I do doesn’t get fans. Nor does it get readers. A webcomic can simply exist and attract attention for being art, you see, whereas reviews and writing are just some narcissist’s logorrhoea.
Does this make me bitter against webcomics artists? You know, yes. Yes it does. I read about a comic today that updated once for a total of six months in its second last year. And these guys were local too, both guys from Toronto. I don’t care if I’d like you personally, or if it’s free–if you don’t maintain a schedule, I won’t read your comic. And it’s not even an elitism thing or a “you desperately need my hits” thing. It’s a “if you can’t be bothered to come up with good content on a regular basis, you aren’t allowed to call yourself creative” thing. Okay, so maybe it’s a bit elitist, but it also comes from an author I respect immensely, Stephen King.
Stephen King is not just an author, penning words and tales of both deep meaning and surface impact. Stephen King is perhaps the 20th Century’s greatest writer. Steve doesn’t write because he thinks of himself as a writer. Steve doesn’t write because he’s rich and successful. Steve writes because in order to be a good writer and in order to stay a good writer and in order to be a writer at all period, you only have to do one thing: write. His exact advice is to read four hours a day and write four hours a day, so really, compared to his schedule, I’m slacking off. He says that if you can’t find time to do that, you can’t call yourself a writer.
I didn’t call myself a writer when I wrote Studies in Film Noir. I wasn’t a writer, although lots of people said I was. What I was was a guy who had written one short story which was pretty good. I know I wasn’t a writer because after I wrote that, I didn’t touch a keyboard for any creative reason again until first year university. And back then, posting notes to Facebook that people would occasionally read, one of those people told me I should start a blog. Thanks, Bryce. I’m sorry I waited so long to take your suggestion, but really, what I was doing was psyching myself up to actually be a writer in addition to saying I’m a writer at parties.
The truth is that for the most part, I still don’t call myself a writer. I haven’t applied for any jobs doing writing, I haven’t pursued a career in writing. Every time I’ve said I will so far this year has been a lie. I want to be a writer, but that makes me nothing more than a wannabe. And really, if you can’t be arsed to stick to a schedule for your webcomic, that makes you a wannabe too. And if your fans occasionally get fed up with you and tell you that you seriously need to get your asses in gear and put out your rather easy to write, not at all hard to draw comic more than 16 times a year, your response shouldn’t be to tell them to quit whining.
It should be to look back at what you’re doing and decide if you’re serious about it or if it’s just a thing you do occasionally. There’s no shame in either, but a lot of people pretend to be the former when they’re really the latter. I see guys get fanbases for dropping things in slow motion every weekday, for writing sixteen strips a year, for doing absolutely nothing to deserve or merit attention whatsoever. Say what you will about my stuff, it takes effort and it takes commitment. Sure, I never had the bright idea to think of doing what you do, specifically. But what I do have is a deadline and a word minimum–and I’ve met both since December 23rd, 2010.