Meet Corva! (I’m working on a thing!)

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a while, and I’m pretty sure in previous posts I’ve done that thing where I indicate that I am working on something, but no, I’m not going to talk about it because of reasons.

I’m working on a thing!

Around this time last year, I caught the drawing bug. Me and drawing have had an on-again/off-again relationship since high school, when I started copying Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon pictures in my notebooks, but last year it hit hard. I bought a few art books and started practicing every day, and it wasn’t long before I found myself wanting to make a comic.

Lesson 1: Comics are a lot of work.

Lesson 2: Comics are a hell of a way to tell stories.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve read many art books and tutorials, as well as interviews with my favorite comic book writers. I’ve spent a lot of time drawing and re-drawing the same characters, swearing at their malformed hands, and writing. I have 80 pages of comic scripts so far, and I still have a TON of stories I want to tell in this world. Of those 80, I have drawn 4 — drawing is hard.

But I’m getting better and faster, and as soon as I can average about a page a week, I’m going to start posting them. I want that to be soon, because I’m so ridiculously excited about this project and I can’t wait to share it.

So! Corva!

Corva’s the main character. She’s good with a sword, and a damn powerful spellcaster. Unfortunately, she recently got her ass kicked by a monster and lost her spellstone, so her magical abilities are somewhat diminished at the moment. Also? She has a sword that can talk. Now she’s mostly healed up from her encounter and ready to get back on the road!

I’ll be sharing more stuff in the coming weeks, so check back!

Not Getting Things Done

Raise your hand if you’ve done something like this.

You have an idea — a story, a melody, a character, a color — that takes up residence in your imagination and starts redecorating the place. You love this idea; it is, perhaps, your greatest idea. Now you just need to find a way to introduce the idea to the world, so you take a seat at your desk and…

Start making lists. This idea is so good, you absolutely must execute it properly — perfectly, even. You write down all the areas of your craft you are weak in and start finding books and websites to teach you to improve those skills. Days go by. Weeks. Months. For every hour you spend working on The Idea, you spend ten hours in study, learning about different techniques.

One day, you decide to take a look at your progress… only to realize that you haven’t made as much progress as you thought.

That’s where I am with my current The Idea. I started writing a comic, and somehow fell into an infinite rabbit hole of drawing tutorials, theoretical analysis of the craft of comics, and dozens of hours spent drawing shitty hands in the hope of one day drawing less-shitty hands. Learning has been awesome, and I can’t say that I regret anything I’ve read about the process of creating comics in the last several months, but I’ve focused so much on Making The Idea Perfect that I’ve neglected The Idea itself.

I’m sure my anxiety plays into this. In the era before medication, I would get so bogged down in “learning” that I would eventually despair of ever having the skills I wanted and give up. It was the standard fear of rejection, multiplied by a billion. At least with medication, I’m better able to see the anxiety in play and take steps to minimize its impact on my work.

Mental illness aside, I’ve had perfectionist tendencies for as long as I can remember. I often find myself struggling to call something “Done”, instead finding fault after fault and lamenting how much I’ll hate it in two years if I don’t get everything just right. It’s not accompanied by the panicky feeling of anxiety, just irritation at myself for not being better.

(Aside: I could probably write a series of posts on how the “gifted kid” label has affected my self-perception and ability to share my stuff with people.)

So! I’m saying this publicly in the hope that it will stick: I am rebalancing my priorities when it comes to making stuff. I am going to start spending more time working on The Idea, even if it sucks for a time and requires massive rewrites, and less time studying up on abstract concepts related to the idea. Learning is good, and has done a lot for my confidence, but no amount of learning is going to cause my stories to get written. That requires picking up my pen and getting to work.

Where He’d Rather Be

My first Sunday here in Virginia, my wife took me to a delicious pizza place to celebrate the move. Right after we sat down, an older couple arrived and sat in the booth next to ours. The woman seemed happy to be out with someone she loved, but the man started complaining immediately, about the server, about the menu, about anything.

At one point, the woman suggested that they get one pizza with different toppings on each half. This made the man upset — he loudly explained to the woman that you got charged full price for each topping and he didn’t want to “spend forty dollars” on one pizza. I grabbed my menu and did some sloppy math, concluding that if they got the biggest pizza and two toppings each it would come to about $22.

Anyway, when we left, Sarah and I analyzed the scenario like writers, trying to work out what would cause a character to behave so poorly on a lunch outing with someone special. One thought that I latched onto was the thought that you could write a character’s temperament at a given moment based on how badly he’d rather be doing something else.

Reflecting on my own behavior, it makes sense to me. When I’m out with Sarah, if there’s something I want to do back home, I’m less likely to suggest swinging by GameStop on the way back from Panera and I’ll be keeping my end of the conversation more concise. What would it take for me to become a whining child? Maybe some sleep deprivation or extreme hunger, but I could also imagine acting like a jerk because I just really, really wanted to sit on the couch and watch House of Cards for a while.

Obviously this isn’t a deep dive into human psychology, but it gave me another way to approach my characters.