Sunday, August 30, 2009

A goal without a plan is a wish

Roadside signs usually don't inspire me that much. Well, unless they're advertising a fast-food sandwich I'd really like. But otherwise? I just ignore them.

Except this weekend. I was driving my 2-year-old son back from a quick trip to the grocery store. I was a bit down. The stories I've been writing lately have seen so meaningless. Content writing will do that to you. You're turning in copy that not even the people who are paying you read all that closely.

Here's what I want to do: I want to write comic book scripts. To be more accurate: I want to be paid to write them. And I want to write my own stories, not something a publisher asks me to take on.

Getting paid is tough in freelance writing. Getting paid scripting work is nearly impossible in the world of comic books. Writers who want to break into comics are common. Unless you're a big name, no one needs to pay you. There are plenty of writers who will turn in scripts for free.

Anyway, I've been writing my own graphic novel script for a while now. I like it. A lot. (Of course, I'm biased.) But there's a stumbling block: To get it published, it'll need to be drawn. I can't draw, at all. I can try to find an artist who'll work for free, but that never ends well. Trust me on this. I've tried it.

You have to pay if you want a good, quality artist. Sequential art -- which is what comics is -- is nothing if not challenging. Top artists can charge a good penny for it. And I want a top artist on my comic.

Thing is, like most freelance writers, money is exceedingly tight. Many, many of my former magazine clients have gone out of business. I'm relying on content writers, and on pumping out stories faster than ever, to help make up the difference. But I'm realistic enough to know that there aren't enough content stories out there to make up for all the print-magazine money that I won't be making this year.

So without money, how can I ever afford a good artist to illustrate my script?

So back to that roadside sign. It said, "A goal without a plan is a wish."

That's not too deep, I know. I'm sure I've heard it many, many times before. But this weekend, it really hit me. I'm wishing to not only break into comics, but to make a living at it. But that's all it is, a wish. I don't have a plan.

So I'm working on it. It may involve taking a lousy, part-time, non-writing related job to make a bit of extra cash, money I can save to pay an artist. Or it may mean finding an extra content-writing client who gives out regular work and saving all the money I make from this particular client for my graphic novel.

Step one, though, is to commit to writing at least two pages a day, probably in the evening after my "real" work is done. Step two is to edit those pages like mad. Step three is finally figure out how to get the money to pay for an artist. I figure I'll start earning that money -- however I decided to do it -- while I'm editing.

Finally, I'll print my graphic novel on the Web. I certainly can't afford to pay printing costs.

Yes, I'll make no money if I put it on the Web. But I might draw a following. And at the every least, I'll have a graphic novel that I did on my own, not one that some publisher screwed up or some editor ruined with a weird-ass suggestion, to show other publishers.

And that might be the very first step to transforming myself from a paid content writer to a paid comic book writer.


  1. I wish you the best of luck with your graphic novel. This economy is making a lot of people realize that not only is work not as stable as it used to be, but if it were to all suddenly go away you're left with nothing to show for it. When the golden handcuffs snap, it is both thrilling and frightening. That epiphany is leading more people to make a real stab at their dreams.

    If you decide to abandon this blog and create one chronicling your journey toward graphic novel greatness, please leave us some breadcrumbs so we can follow you.

  2. Hi, Gabriel:

    Actually, I'm not giving up on this blog yet. I might, though, create a second blog on comic book writing. We'll see.