I'm a Fucking Writer, Validate Me! - 10/17/12
First off, check out the story I just got published over at Weaponizer. I'm fairly proud of that pile of words.

Generally, I'm bored to tears by writers who've never done anything of note blogging about writing, so I'll keep this short and get back to music updates soon. (And there are some exciting music updates just around the corner) Crossing this threshold as a writer has me thinking about how I got here and what if anything I learned along the way.

It's no secret that I grew up on comics. Marvel comics to be exact. X-titles were my favorites if you must know. So I considered Chris Claremont to be the writer I wanted to be when I grew up. (As an aside, the stories that got me hooked, like Angel's suicide in X-Factor, were actually written by Louise Simonson. Louise... thank you for not talking down to me. Or, perhaps you're to blame for the literary horrors I unleash on the world) Some time around 1992-1993, I had an opportunity to say hello to Claremont at the then monthly Boston comic book convention. I asked him the question all aspiring writers ask an established idol, what advice would he have for a kid who wanted to write comics. His answer, "become an artist." That stuck with me because it was such a slap in the face of my dream from someone I really felt should get it. He could just as easily said "stay in school, study hard" or "eat your vegetables" and gotten to the next jerk in line, but he instead chose to direct what I assume was his frustration with the state of the industry at a fan. That was around the time his name on a book stopped being in instant purchase for me.

Fortunately, at about the same time, a friend of mine stole a signed, hard-cover copy of the Season of Mists run of the Sandman. I read it because, comics!, although I didn't hold out much hope since some years earlier, I got an issue from somewhere in the first 10 and I never quite got what all the fuss was about. There was a decided lack of men in tights punching one another. When I read this book though... wow! It had Lucifer and gods and the dead rising from the grave. Holy shit, it was a story that contained almost everything I thought was cool. I learned the name Neil Gaiman and the Sandman became the most important title each month. I had an opportunity to get Neil to sign something a couple years later. It was last minute that I learned he was going to be in the comic shop down the street from my dorm promoting Mr. Punch. All I had there of his was a beat up paperback copy of Good Omens. I had no money to pick up Mr. Punch, but of course I was going to stand in line to get my book signed. Once again, I asked what advice he had for an aspiring writer. To paraphrase it was write. Then write some more. Keep on writing. And finish what you start. But most of all, write. He seemed glad to give the advice and when I explained I was too broke to buy Mr. Punch, but that I loved the Sandman covers, Dave McKean, who was largely ignored by most of the folks in line, was kind enough to draw a picture on a blank page in the back of my book while I was getting the best writing advice of my life. At the time, the advice seemed fairly generic, if delivered by a guy who really did wish me well. It wasn't until years later that I realized the secret was buried in the middle. "And finish what you start" that's the key. I spent years after college flitting from one really cool idea to the next, never quite finishing anything because... hey look, shiny!

So that's it. I've been finishing what I started for about seven years now and I've finally gotten something published and I'm really psyched. I hope that the next bit of word-craft to see the light of day doesn't take another seven years, but either way, let's all just focus on finishing the project in front of us. In my case, this damn novel. Although there are a lot of shiny things that want my attention. But this short story was one of them (rationalized as an exercise since I've been script writing for almost a decade now and my prose has gotten rusty), so who knows? Maybe I should get something else signed so I can get a bit of clarification.

© 1997-2015 Mike Townsend