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Archive for March, 2007

Joys of Batman

It’s spring vacation for the Portland Public School system, so Elliot’s at home, and that has two immediate results. 1) it kills productivity, and 2) he and I get to hang out.

Hanging out, right now, consists of watching the Batman animated series from the early ’90s.

I think it is a very good thing to, every now and then, remind oneself how these characters look to someone who isn’t mired in issues of coninuity, or production, or the politics that surround them. Nice to remember the inherent cool-factor in Batman and Nightwing and Two-Face.

Back to watching “You Scratch My Back.”

Lynn Truss must die!!!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of people, y’know, UNDERSTANDING THE RULES OF PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR. In fact, I think those writers out there who show flagrant disregard for the same (and they know who they are) reveal incredible disrespect for their craft and their peers by proudly displaying their ignorance.

But I’m working on the first pass pages right now, and I’ve got to tell you, the copy editor on this manuscript read Ms. Truss a little too much, because she’s inserting commas fucking everywhere.

I’m particular about commas. I use them with precision, or so I should like to believe. As Ms. Truss has made loads of money explaining, altering their placement without due consideration changes the meaning of the sentence.

So, essentially, I’m going over galley pages of a novel due for release in September where, between the last time I saw it and now, the meaning has changed.

Yeah, I’m wearing a shiny happy hat right now.

The Easy Part

“Times like these, we sure could use a friend.”

Yesterday was not a good day. Yesterday blew chunks. Yesterday was the kind of work day where no actual typing occurred, yet the whole day was devoted to writing in one fashion or another. Yesterday was the kind of day they never talk about in writing classes or seminars or college or you-name-it.

Yesterday sucked.

Today, back at World Cup Coffee and Tea at Powell’s books. Nice cup of coffee, and the first pass galley pages of Patriot Acts in front of me. That’s real work. That’s the kind of work that, when it’s done, you can feel you’ve accomplished something, you’ve moved forward, rather than simply holding ground.

Typing, you see, is the easy part. It’s everything else that’s hard. From the minutiae of the business, trying to be a Professional writer, to the actual conception, research, execution, whatever is required to make the work come to life.

The typing is the easy part.

“As for the brother, well…Pluto’s not a planet anymore, either.”

Foot in Mouth Disease

So, I did an interview for CBR. Nice fellow named Robert Taylor conducted it. You can read it here if you’re so inclined.

I did something I normally would never do in it, which is I actually went so far as to criticize my fellow 52 writers as well as myself. Minor criticism, to be sure, and nothing that I think was particularly dangerous, edgy, daring, or otherwise hurtful.

But we writers are such a sensitive goddamn lot I’m now beginning to wish I hadn’t said anything other than the standard, “These guys are the GREATEST!!!” I haven’t received any angry calls, mind; Waid hasn’t come after me with his well-honed axe, and Geoff hasn’t rung up with a “dude, not cool.” All the same, I’ve made myself uncomfortable by doing this, and now I’m left to wonder why.

And it’s not that hard to see, frankly. These guys are my peers, and more, I honestly think of them as my friends (my very dear friends, in fact). I’d hate to think I said anything to hurt their feelings, anything that could be misconstrued (even given the lengths I went to in the interview to assure that precisely that didn’t happen) as mean-spirited or lacking respect for them or their craft.

But that’s only part of it. The other part of it is that I’ve broken an Unwritten Law, one that stretches all the way back to my first writing classes. I’ve offered criticism, and even if it was constructive and mild, it opens me up for the same.

Which is bullshit. The paradox of writing for a living is that people are going to read what you write, and some of them (maybe a lot of them) Are Not Going To Like It.

You have to learn to deal with it, and the key word here is ‘learn’ and not ‘deal.’ It’s an ongoing process, and I don’t know a single writer who isn’t stung by criticism of their work, no matter how minor, infantile, or incompetent the source. It may not be a major sting, it may not last, but I continue to find it amazing that some Net Troll who offers his unsolicited and uneducated “review” of my work can bother me almost as much as a bad review from, say, Kirkus.

Another thing that comes with the territory.

I’ve thought about this a lot, in fact, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the only writers out there who are not affected by criticism in some way, shape, or form are writers I want nothing to do with. Because those are the writers who have no doubts about their work, which in turn means they believe their work has no room for improvement.

Writing is a growth form. You MUST get better at it, or at least you must strive to. More than anything, believing you know everything you need to know, that you do not need to hone your craft further, that you do not need, for instance, an editor…that’s the kiss of fucking death.

And I never want to be that writer. That writer scares me.

Want to know a lost art?

Lettering.

Just spent an hour and a half going over the lettered copy of Week #48 of 52. The issue is of particular importance to me for obvious reasons if you’ve seen the cover. If you haven’t, you’ll know it when you read it.

An hour and a half compiling detailed notes and making extensive corrections to 18 out of 20 pages. Nearly 50 separate mistakes, from missing punctuation to mixing up captions with spoken lines, right down to giving the lines to the wrong characters.

A fucking hour and a half.

I miss Todd Klein.

Instead of artists like him, we get this instead.

Nothing Simple

Back at Powell’s today. Just completed the detailed breakdowns for Checkmate 14 and Outsiders 48 based on yesterday’s conversation with Judd. Still excited about the project, and looking forward to starting the writing on the next two issues this Friday.

But this is tempered by more comic industry bullshit, and no, I’m not talking about this, or this, or even this.

It’s the “Nooo!” that gets me, there.

No, this is something entirely different, and it’s illustrating to me (pardon the pun) one of the conflicts I’m going to have to resolve for myself if I’m going to continue doing this. Namely, how much of the curtain do I pull back on the business versus on the process. Fact is, I’m more interested in talking about the work itself, the writing, than I am in dishing dirt about the industry in general, or DC in particular. No, I’ll leave that to people far better suited to the task than I.

The thing is, the two are inextricably linked at this point. There are projects I simply cannot talk about yet, much as I might like to. And when my involvement in the Can’t-Talk-About-It project looks to be in jeopardy for fairly complicated reasons…well, there’s frustration.

Much like I suspect comes from reading this, where I’m talking about the point.

*sighs*

CheckOut, Part II

Joe Bennett, ladies and gentlemen.

Thanks for the help, Eric.

CheckOut

Just finished a phone call with Judd to break down the last four issues of the Checkmate/Outsiders crossover, and I’m feeling something about the writing and the story I haven’t felt for what seems like a very long time.

I’m actually excited about writing this. I’m actually enthusiastic about it.

We’ve got some neat beats planned for the characters, and the overall story is strong, and best of all, it seriously loads the drama for Checkmate 15 on.

Haven’t been this excited about writing the series since I started it, actually. I’m even thinking of upgrading my account status here to post a couple preview pages.