Devourer of Words 043: New Year’s Resolutions (Writer Edition)
This is the time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions—or, in point of fact, where people have already broken the New Year’s resolutions they made on January 1.
But we are people who make comic books and unless we are on a deadline imposed by someone else, we’ll get to things when we get to them. And “resolution” is just a statement of resolve, a steadfast desire for something. Not the actual change itself. And the English language actually has a pretty good word for change that’ll slot in quite nicely.
So, here are my New Year’s Revolutions (Writer Edition). Feel free to appropriate them as you see fit. (And I am not going to do the math and see how many of these are holdovers from previous years. I am not a masochist.)
For the past couple of years, I’ve been in an output mode—between comics and television and various day jobs, I’ve been producing content on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. And, to be honest, I haven’t made the time to put new literature in my brain. And that can be a costly oversight.
Once, when I was a teenager, I asked my dad for a job at the restaurant he owned. He said, “Sure, you can be a busboy.” And, naturally, I took umbrage—I was a smart kid and, also, I knew the owner quite well. And he said, “Before you can do the big jobs, you have to do every other job below it. You need to know how everything is supposed to run, from the inside, before you can tell anyone else how to do it.”
The same thing, sorta, goes with comics: How are you going to build stories that other people will want to read if you don’t read them yourself?
I’ve been lax … time to correct.
In that reading, I am bound to discover something or someone I haven’t encountered before. And I want to start shining a light on the things that I love, both with money and attention.
We—and by we, I mean mostly me—often complain about the lack of fresh perspectives, of new voices in the media we consume. It can too frequently feel like a closed loop. The people who make things are the people who always make things and because the new can also be challenging, we resort to the comfort of the familiar.
But I want to stand behind the new. I want to find it on the newsstands and I want to enlist them as collaborators. The new is how we get progress. No one ever went forward by looking behind them.
Make something that didn’t exist before. Make something totally, unreservedly, inherently new. It can be easier to do variations on a theme. Maybe “easier” is the wrong word, there, as anyone who is telling the 834th Spider-Man story can probably tell you. That’s not easy. But you also know what success looks like. There is such a thing as a great Spider-Man story, just as there is a bad one. There is a bar for success and you know what it looks like to clear it.
Being on that high-wire of the new can be petrifying. No one can know what the best version of that story is, because no one’s told it before. The marketplace might embrace it, they might turn a blind eye towards it. No one knows. The critics might poop all over it, because it doesn’t conform to a standard they know how to judge by.
But that is entirely the reason to do it. Put something new into the world, something that only you can make. Maybe it’ll sell. Maybe it won’t. Maybe people will love it. Maybe they won’t. But it will be YOURS. And that is the reason why.
If you have any New Year’s Revolutions of your own, share them. Hit me on Twitter @marcbernardin and lemme know how you’re changing it up for 2017.
Like my man Gandhi said in a greeting card once, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Marc Bernardin’s Devourer of Words appears the third Tuesday of every month here on Toucan!