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Monday, June 13, 2011

Ruminations of an Old Goat

My old publisher from my comic book days got in touch with me recently to tell me the Comics Buyer's Guide, the longest-running magazine about comics, had recently published a retrospective about the X-Thieves. Most of you know about the Southern Knights, the comic book I wrote for many years. I haven't discussed the X-Thieves as much, perhaps because we only had 13 issues, but I had a lot more freedom with the off-the-wall stories about a couple of thieves who could travel in both time and space.

The retrospective was only three pages long but it really was a feel-good piece for me. Who wouldn't love to read lines about their work such as, "The stories themselves were outstanding, poking fun many of the pop-culture touchstones of the day." Or, from the review of issue #4, "Vogel and Propst have hit their stride by this point, making X-Thieves one of the black-and-white seres that should have survived the bust. The biting satire and deep characterization carry the day."

I'd already been dwelling more than usual on my days of writing comic books because this fact attracted some attention at my new job. The retrospective in the magazine just added to the nostalgia for a time 25 years in the past; my glory days, some would say. And here I am, decades later, past my creative high point with no expectation of ever returning to those heights. Sort of like the guy who was Mr. Everything in high school but Mr. Nobody Special after that, my brightest days are behind me. Except that I don't believe that for a minute.

Don't get me wrong, I have very fond memories of my days writing comic books. I loved attending conventions and meeting fans from all over the country. It was certainly a fun time for me. But when I stopped writing the comic books I stopped because I ready for a break. The writing was less fun and more of a chore. Honestly, I was relieved when it all came to an end.

I gained a lot of different things from my comic writing days but the most valuable thing was the knowledge that I did it. I'm hardly the first person who, more or less out of the blue, decided he wanted to write comic books. But I didn't stop with the desire. I actually wrote comic books. A friend and I put money on the line and published the comic book. And that comic book, the Southern Knights, ran for 38 issues.

More recently, I did the same thing with storytelling. I literally came home one day and told my wife I was going to become a professional storyteller. Six months later, I received my first check for storytelling. While my calendar is hardly filled with storytelling dates, I get enough work to satisfy myself right now.

And you're all wondering exactly why I'm taking this time to pat myself on the back and congratulate myself for getting out there doing rather than dreaming. That's not really my intent, even if that is how it looks. My intent is to say that I won't spend the rest of my life wondering "What if..." I know I can write comic books because I wrote comic books. I know I can be a storyteller because I am a storyteller.

Most of you who frequent the Friday Challenge are here because you have an interest in writing. Taking part in the challenges shows a level of dedication beyond that of most would-be writers. And that's good. Writers don't think about writing, they actually write. But if you want to be a published writer, you need to take another step. You need to complete what you write and then submit your work to magazines, writing contests, anthologies, book publishers, any place which accepts submissions from writers. Then you have take your rejected works and submit them somewhere else. And submit those rejections somewhere else. And so on until you make a sale and the story appears in print. Only then are you a published writer.

But even if that never happens, as long as you give a good, honest effort to achieve the dream you will have already succeeded. You won't spend the rest of your life wondering "What if..." You'll know. And knowing makes all the difference.
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