When I was working on my novel, almost half my lifetime ago now, jeez, I had a hard time sleeping. And when I did get to sleep, I kept revising my dreams, overthinking their structure, demanding perfection.
Lately I’ve been writing fiction again, for my job at E-Line Media. I’ve been writing comic scripts, to be precise.
Comics were the first things I ever actively created. I started when I was maybe eight, only just recently able to read. My cousin Tracye and I made our own comic books, folded paper and Scotch tape (or whatever was handy for binding purposes — one time I used Band-Aids) — stories about ourselves, or, at least, two characters named “Joey” and “Tracye,” basically aping the structure of Archie one-page gags. Or Li’l Jinx or whatever. I think my mom still has some of those.
I was still making comics in high school, xeroxing them and passing them to my friends, many of whom I’d never met in person. Zine publishers — we called them zines back then, before zines came to mean something else and what we made came to be called minicomics, but whatever — zine publishers, as I was saying, met each other through classified ads in The Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom, before it came to be called The Comic Buyer’s Guide. We exchanged our publications by snail mail. It was kind of like webcomics, except not like webcomics at all.
Anyway, the last however-many years have been focused on making other kinds of things — first the novel (a prose novel, not one of those fancy-dancy graphic things), then a bunch of websites. I always wanted to get back to the comics, though.
Honest. That was the real goal all along.
I originally launched Modern Tales because I thought I was going to be making a webcomic, and I wanted a high-profile venue in which to place my work. I don’t even remember what my webcomic idea was, but I do remember it was pretty stupid. I never got around to it. The sites exploded for a few years though, became high-profile and interesting to a lot more people than I’d ever expected. I became somebody I wasn’t really cut out to be, a “businessman,” and a “programmer” and whatever — all out of necessity.
But then they became ends unto themselves, those self-assigned temporary jobs. I was a little too good at those jobs for my own good, I think. Not good enough to be, you know, good at them, but still maybe a little better than a lot of other people who were trying to do the same things I was trying to do at that time. Not better than all of them, not by a mile. But better than a lot of them.
What can I say? The bar was pretty low in the early days of the web. I got my first web job, at Free Speech TV, just because I knew HTML. They moved me from Kentucky to Colorado, just because I knew HTML! Just imagine!
The bar’s a lot higher now, on both the businessperson front and the technology front, for working on the web. I’ve managed to finagle myself a position in a company where those bases are covered, thank goodness. Now it’s time to get back to what I should have been doing all along, what I was supposed to have done with my life: writing stories, making stuff.
But I can’t sleep because of it. I get up at night, smoke cigarettes, can’t stop thinking, can’t stop thinking. It feels familiar. I don’t know that I can say it feels good. It does feel, though, like what I’m supposed to be doing.