Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When I Grow Up, Part Two

Instead of giving a recap of yesterday's post, I'm just going to pick up right where I left off. So if you missed Part One yesterday, please do check out the post directly below this one, then come on back up here for Part Two!

So, without further ado, I give you...Evaluation Day.

At the time I had to present my Spider-Man script to the other writers in my Post Grad comics writing class, I had only shared my work a couple of times before. I took a few creative writing classes in college, and once or twice each semester I'd have to stand up and read something I'd written.

But I never created anything I cared all that much about, and so I never really dreaded those moments, nor did I take them too seriously. But this was different. For me, this would be the first time I'd share a comics script with other comic book people, and I have to say, while I was excited and confident in my ability, I was nervous as all get-out.

Somehow, in my warped head, I told myself that this was it. This would be the moment where I'd either know I have what it takes or I don't. It was a room full of would-be writers--many with some discernible talent, and a handful of flat-out talented cats.

As I drove down to the city, headed for class, I went over the scenarios in my head: (a) everyone hates it, and I get laughed out of the class and possibly tarred and feathered at dawn; (b) everyone loves it, and I am immediately hired by Marvel to write Amazing Spider-Man indefinitely; (c) Well, uh...there wasn't a "c."

There was no middle ground in my big ol' head. Just "a" and "b." Either I'd be tarred and feathered at dawn, or I'd win Brian Michael Bendis-style acclaim.

Clearly, any rational human being would have come down somewhere between those two...uhm...not-so-realistic scenarios, but hey, that's what was going on in yonder fields of my cranium.

So I arrive at my classroom. I sit down, take out my notebook and script, and I am all set.

Class starts in three hours, but man, am I set.

Again, I wasn't so much with the rational. Finally, the time comes, and my script is read aloud by a few of the other writers choosing parts and acting things out. And a couple of things happen.

The first thing I notice is that everyone laughs when they're supposed to laugh. And not the polite, let's-massage-his-tender-writer-feelings type of laugh, either. This was actual laughter by people who had found something I wrote to be funny.

And that was a thrill, let me tell you.

The next thing I notice is that people are pretty into the script, the story, and the characters. And that was cool, too. But, again, since I wasn't exactly in the most rational of places that night, I was still nervous and guarded, and ready to scream at anyone with a negative comment, "You know nothing of my work!" and follow that up by flinging pies at all in attendance.

But the reading ended, and people were smiling, and the instructor was smiling, and I was...not smiling. Then, one at a time, everyone in class gave notes and comments and things, and I waited for the Bad Thing to come.

But it never came. Sure, there were a couple of story point suggestions and whatever, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. So positive, in fact, that one of the students (a published writer) said, aloud and for everyone to hear, "I don't know why you aren't writing Spider-Man for a living."

And the instructor shook his head and agreed.

So, after picking up the pieces of my own, exploded head, I thanked everyone and class ended, and I got in my car, and I made the long drive out of the city and back home.

And I thought about what the heck had just happened. And, while I was exceedingly happy that my script was met with great approval by the others, I found myself angry.

Angry at Marvel and DC and Top Cow and Image and all the other comics publishers out there. Because, during the time that I took this class, I was also sending out resumes and writing samples to publishers.

And I was getting form letter after form letter back, all with the same, sad, rejection letter-y language.

And that takes me to a good place to stop for today, folks. Tune in next time for Part Three!

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