Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When You Can't Retreat, Vacation!

I found myself on an impromptu mini-vacation this weekend. Naturally there are certain items I never leave town without. At minimum, it’s several books, a couple of notebooks, a couple of sketchbooks, and – last, but not least – my computer.

Because for me, the word “vacation” is synonymous with “writer’s retreat.”

Since this was just going to be a weekend trip with only one full day actually spent out of town and because it was a big group of people going, making this - in theory – a social vacation, I didn’t really think I’d get any writing done.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprising considering I’m me), I did manage to get in a few hours of alone time with my computer. My borderline-reclusive leanings helped in this regards. But seriously, watching a movie together doesn’t really count as a social activity, right? So it was okay to skip out on that. And I played a round of dominoes on Friday night so I didn’t need to join in on a game of cards on Saturday.

I’m happy that I went back to my room, slipped on my earphones and commenced to writing because I had a pretty exciting character revelation as I tipity-tapped away on my keyboard. This thing that I realized fits right in with the other dynamics already on the table for these characters and the back story that’s already been established, and while it doesn’t change the events I foresee writing in future chapters, it adds to everything an undercurrent so awesome that it makes me want to hug myself and squeal with glee whilst I do a little happy dance.

I’ve been working on this story for what feels like a lot longer than what should have been necessary, and it has been a pain in the butt to write, I mean really. It. Has. Sucked. But now I’m thinking, maybe I’m glad I didn’t finish it sooner. If it took me this long to come to this wonderful, wonderful realization, maybe it’s better I didn’t finish it months ago…but if I had finished it months ago, would I have come to this realization anyway?….or maybe the story would have been completely different because I would have never hit upon other slow-to-come realizations and therefore I would have never reached this weekend’s awesome insight? And oh, the circles of thought continue to go round.

It’s the same thing I wondered when I used to wait to the very last minute to write what turned out to be an excellent paper in college. Did it turn out brilliant because I waited until 2am to write something due for my 8am class? Would I have been able to string these same thoughts together if I did it slowly over the course of the several weeks I was given?

Inspiration, when it comes to putting together a story, is a series of thoughts falling into each other like dominoes, except that it isn’t a single, predetermined line of dominoes but a journey with many forks in the road that could lead you anywhere. At least that's how it seems to me; and sometimes, they’re slow to fall.

I don’t exactly advocate waiting for the muse to hit you upside the head with inspiration, but I do believe that there are times when you just can’t – or shouldn’t – push a story that isn’t ready to go anywhere. Like so many things, it’s about learning to balance between the two, getting a feel for when to push on through to the other side or when to take a break.

I’ll tell you one thing. When the dominoes are consistently slow to fall, when you have to stop pushing and take a break for no other reason but for the sake of your sanity, it really makes you appreciate every page, every little line of dialogue, every period at the end of a sentence, every space between two words.

Image by Justina Kochansky/

There has been many a day that I’ve hated this particular story. Capital H-A-T-E-D, HATED with a deep-seeded passion that sat in the core of my being like a lump of dry, stale bread stuck in my throat, but on the other hand, by the time I get to the end of it - if I ever get to the end of it – I think I’ll really feel like I’ve earned this story. That this story decided that I was going to work for and, boy, have I—like a dog works for his tail.

…I just hope it doesn’t suck.

Webcomic Update: Preview of First Completed Page Posted! (Click on image for larger version)


  1. I love the dancing .gif. I like looking at your art's pretty cool. I admire that you are trying to teach yourself how to draw by learning from books without the benefit of taking expensive classes (am assuming that the comic page above was drawn by you).

  2. Thanks! Alas, no, that isn't my art. I'm partnering with an artist whose skills far surpass my own for this comic. But I'm still glad you like it (I did have a little bit to do with it)