Creating a Voice
I don't honestly remember a time when I wasn't writing, or at least inventing stories of some sort to show to others. Always. I can still remember being a little boy, and falling in love with (but never being 100% satisfied by) stories. Even in comic books, and movies, and cartoons...I always wanted to change something or make it better or think of something that would enhance it or at least continue the story. It always made me want to do something just as creative, if not more so. I'd work damn HARD at it too! Hehehe, one of my best friends and I used to play G.I. Joe in the back alley behind my house, and we'd lay all of the figures out to choose from....then I'd practically have to rename and create a whole new story behind every character before we could even start playing. That was just my thing, I guess. I'm pretty sure that there were plenty of times when he'd be pissed at me because he just wanted to shoot at each other and blow shit up...and here is 'Comsie' trying to come up with a REASON for stuff to happen! Hehehe! Well, I never claimed to be 'normal', not by any means. :)
Around the third grade or so, when problems started happening with my dad and I was confined to the house most of the time, I started coming up with my own comic book ideas and started to draw a little bit. I was collecting them whenever I had some extra cash, so those stories caught my attention. They kinda took me away from everything and I could 'escape' for a while, you know? The comics are really what made me want to start creating stories of my own. Especially X-Men, because the whole intersecting of different plots and stories between all of these different personalities was amazing to me. And I started out trying to come up with stories for the X-Men to sort of play out in my mind, then (when I found out I was really BAD at trying to draw them!) I came up with new characters of my own. Then started drawing my own little series, which had a spinoff later, and then I had a bunch running at once by 6th grade. Hehehe, kinda like now with the site. I used to pass them around in class whenever some form of 'quiet time' was enforced. Like that time after you finished taking a test and everyone else hadn't, or when a boring movie was playing, or study hall...whatever. And a few times I showed it to some of the kids I knew from film and television auditions and saw more than once. There was this one blond kid, Jory, that used to love them to death! I miss him. (He was cute too! ::Giggles::) Anyway, it was kinda like having a following, and that was cool. I can't tell you guys the name of 'em though. Hehehe...people I went to school with would remember them right away! I still have about 25 or so of them though. My father unfortunately threw a great deal of my self-drawn comics away to 'teach me a lesson' or whatever the fuck his excuse was for that particular act of cruelty! Arrrgh! But I still have those 25 left for sure. I hid a lot of my 'important' stuff after that so he wouldn't trash them. I kept drawing all the way up through college and stopped shortly after. I don't draw anymore. Just...I dunno...I don't feel like I 'can' anymore, you know? One of the last things I drew were superhero pics of my friends on three different small posters. Everybody is on there, even Brice, Ariel, Sam, "Ryan", Mike, "Drew", Brian, Adam, and all those characters you've come to know so well. Hehehe!
Over time though, all of the comic books and the acting and the music I loved and the cartoons and movies I watched....they all were leading up to one thing. The love of telling a story. So I decided to just give writing a try, and ended up taking a writing class in college for credit (just because the class I really wanted was full before I got to register). It was possibly one of the best classes I've ever taken, and it made me pour my heart into writing from now on.
Let me be honest....through MOST of my academic life, I have always HATED English! Hahaha! I mean, I loved getting the chance to write and that was cool. I always made good grades and got along with the teachers, and THAT was cool. But it was the 'rules' of writing that just bothered me. I'd sit in a class and get lectured on mechanics, nouns, verbs, and tenses...and it was all extremely helpful, but I'd get it in the first day or two, and then have to sit through this monotonous repetition for another whole week and a half, sometimes longer. I probably planned out and drew a lot of the comic books I mentioned in class. (If it wasn't for a GIGANTIC crush on this girl named Amy at the time, I would have gone insane for sure!) I don't claim to have my punctuation and spelling and mechanics down to perfection. Not at ALL. I'm probably way off in most cases. But to me...trying to 'structure' the way someone writes was like trying to tell an artist how to paint, or telling a dancer how to move. It felt like the 'freedom' and 'grace' of it all just got suffocated in all these commas and semi colons and 'proper tense use' and the like. It wasn't natural, and if it wasn't natural then it wasn't really 'expression'. Not completely. If you read my stories now, there are a lot sentences or tenses or uses of a word that don't really make sense in the proper English textbook. When I write certain things out, even I look at it strange and wonder if it makes sense at all and if I should rephrase it. But I usually leave it alone. I had to just trust my heart on a lot of choices instead of trying to do it...'right'. I wanted my writing to be more 'relaxed' than that, I wanted to write the way people speak. When you're talking to someone you feel comfortable around, you're not thinking about the correct way to use "lay, laid, and lain", you know? (That's one of those things that I never really figured out completely, by the way. Hehehe!) I just feel that if you want to really bring someone into the emotion of what you're saying and involve them in the moment, then you should write the way you speak normally, as though you were telling them the story first hand...'showing' it to them. To write with only a moment's thought and simply say what you feel. (Does that make sense? I dunno) Shakespeare had some truly beautiful things to say, and his mastery of the language is phenominal....but to someone who is just being introduced to Shakespeare's work, many times they have no idea what the hell he's talking about. I had an idea back then, and after being taught what each sonnet meant and we were able to discuss it as a class, then I could appreciate it much more. Once I got it, it was AMAZING to me. But I also remember being so disconnected from it because I kept trying to absorb the overall message of it all without having to read things twice or figure out what was going on. I wanted the STORY to stand out. Mechanics are needed, spelling is essential, sure. But the flash and the glitter is a bonus to me when I'm writing my own stuff. It might be the most beautiful sentence ever written, but if nobody 'gets it', then it's wasted and the story comes to a halt momentarily. I didn't want that, so I tried to create something that spoke to people easily, even if it was about a complex situation, and flowed naturally. Calm, quiet, sweet...but potent in what it was trying to say. I wanted a real experience when I write so it would stick with people long after the story is over, and I try so hard to create exactly that everytime I sit down to type another piece of work.
Anyway, my English teachers never agreed, and used to always take points off of my grade for run-on sentences and misused tenses and little mechanics mistakes. But I was never a grade hound anyway. I'd always look at the teacher's notes at the end. THAT was the important part. If he/she said they enjoyed it immensely and that it was clear what I was trying to say....then to HELL with the rest of the stuff. They could appreciate the paper and really loved it despite its flaws, and that's awesome. The emotion, to me, was the only essential aspect I had to worry about. Emotions are like that...you don't always understand or agree with them, but you feel them inside and they don't let go as easily as you might want them to. They 'stick', and I wanted all of my work to 'stick'. I think my teachers kinda realized that after a while, and weren't as harsh with the grades after that. I always wanted to write stories with some creativity and with something to say, and in high school English classes...that isn't always the opportunity given. I absolutely LOATHED writing stuff like "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" and "A Persuasive Paper" and a "Letter To A Friend" paper! Oh man, it was like being boxed in by these incredibly limiting assignments, and it was a TOTAL 'straitjacket' on what I really wanted to do. So...I did it for the school credit, but I was usually trying to skate by with as much creativity as possible while still fitting into the strict guidelines of the assignment. But I figured if I used a sense of humor to mask it a bit, the teachers would let it go. And they did, every time. That's when a 'style' kinda emerged and I used it to say things in writing the way I wanted to say them.
By the time I had graduated high school, I started trying new things with that particular style to make it stand out a bit more. Since the most important part of any story to me was the way it felt to someone reading, to make it feel as though I were speaking to them and through them directly, I started using little things to emphasize the feeling of the words themselves. So I began using bold letters and italics for words that I wanted to stand out more, and little apostrophes and quotes for hints at sarcasm or humor. I was using underlines too for a while, but since my teachers would not STAND for that at ALL...I stopped doing that. Hehehe! I caved. But those other little things meant a great deal to me, and I still use them to this day in the Shack stories. Those little extras allow me to really express each sentence as I would say it in my own mind. They help to relay the mood to whoever is reading, and I think that's a big part of connecting someone to the story. And that's how 'Comsie's' so-called style came to be. If you look at the stories, you'll see what I mean. And you'll know why the formatting of the HTML and all is so important to me before posting it anywhere else. It's a huge part of the story to me.
(I will be writing a special "Website Plus" section on 'Comsie Mechanics' too in the near future!)
To me, one of the most important things in life is to discover that one talent that you possess that truly connects you to your thoughts and emotions. That ONE thing that makes you unique and original when compared to every other person on the planet. For me...that's writing. It takes a great deal of a lifetme to find out what your particular outlet is, or to at least 'realize' it after doing it for so long. But when I truly threw myself into my writing, the goal was to own it completely. To just...totally control it, strengthen it, improve it, perfect it, and allow it to become an essential part of me. I want to someday get it down to the point where everything I write is flawless and every word is as powerful as it can be...without struggle, without second guessing, at all. That's seriously what I want to do. I try to make the 'skill' of it so fine tuned that I can simply start a story on the spot without thinking about it. No planning whatsoever. Just allowing my current emotions to express themselves in this dreamlike manner and translating their influence on my life into words. There are days when it seems sooo easy. And there are days when I look at the screen, and no matter what I write, it's just wrong. It's stupid, it's childish, it's over-sexed, it's boring, or the words just aren't coming out the way I NEED them to. It makes for some very frustrating times. But I think that is a part of the gift too. Those frustrating times show you your weaknesses, your goals, and they present you wth the question of whether or not you really want to go through with this. If the answer is yes, then it just puts a tighter grip on your faith, you dig your heels in, and you work your ass off to make every story a masterpiece. So I occassionally get aggrivated, but it helps in the long run.
I've made 2003 my year to really try to stretch out with some new ideas and top everything that I've ever done before. (With the exception of the serials, to a degree. Simply because many of them are pretty much set in stone, and will improve gradually as I add to them.) That's proven to be a lot more difficult than I had hoped. I don't know exactly WHERE to begin, or HOW to suddenly go beyond what I've written so far...but by this summer, when the new stuff is ready, I hope to have made some sort of small jump in the right direction. I realize that a lot of people like the stories as they are, and I love you guys for it. Honestly I do. But....it's not even a FRACTION of what I want to do. Man...I want to be soooo much better! If I could just reach that level where I can say what needs to be said, effortlessly and with such ease and truth that it becomes 'revolutionary' or 'undeniable' or just.....'classic'.....that would mean EVERYTHING to me! Where people can look at the first paragraph and say without any doubt, "Comicality must have written this. That's his style, nobody else can write like that." Don't think of it as any big obsession, it's more like an ambition of mine. It's frustrating to be so far away from that sometimes, to not know what that 'next level' is. I don't ever want to level off and not be able to get any better, that would suck. But I guess it's that 'push' for something better that challenges people to be at the top of their game when they set out to create something new.
I think that's what I really want to do. Create something 'new'. Some kind of entirely different view of what we know and just turn the whole world on its ear. When I get to THAT level (or die trying), then I'll know that I've done well. I can't wait to be able to wear that particular smile on my face. Hehehe!
Sure, I'm a competitive person. Of COURSE I am! And if there is good competition around me, it's going to make me step up and give it everything that I've got. It's my dream to be able to be recognized as the best that's ever done it and no one can ever match something that I've written. That's the goal of any artist in any field, I think. There might be a million painters, and only ONE Picasso. There might be a million architects, and only ONE Andrew Lloyd Webber. There might be a million martial artists, and only ONE Bruce Lee. To stand out in a field where other people are just as passionate about what they do as you are, is the Holy Grail of self creation. I'm nowhere close to being 'that guy', but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't wish that I could reach for the title and truly make a difference. An impact unmatched by any other. That would kick ass! :)
However, as far 'competition' goes in the sense of every man for himself and crushing the person next to me, that's not my thing. I'm always trying to top myself, and if someone is really bringing some incredible skills to the table, then it's going to make me push even harder to do better and excel to a whole new level. If I make it, then I know I'm in good company with excellent talent. If I don't make it, then I've still got some work to do. And if I somehow get to the point where I'm holding the throne, and someone is pushing to get in my spot, then I won't make it easy for anyone to take it. If someone DOES take it, then I know they were damn good and deserve it. Hehehe, it's not about animosity or being challenged for this or for that. It's about them putting out the best stuff that they can create, and me doing the same thing. What someone else does is going to be totally unique from what I do and vice versa. And I LOVE that! That's what makes it special, that's what makes it beautiful. Some of the Library contests that I've had on the site, have been about completing or rewriting one of the stories I've put out there, and the most exciting part of it is seeing how someone else can see things from a completely different point of view. That's art, and it's incredible to see the individuality shine through with each person's contribution to the expression of it. So anyone doing better than me is a challenge, but it's a SELF challenge. It makes ME work harder and see if I can share some of that spotlight. Cmpetition is an incredible motivator as long as it doesn't get too wrapped up in self pity, anger, jealousy, or greed. That's when your efforts become more self destructive than anything else. In that frame of mind, I wouldn't be able to write anything heartfelt at all...and it halts everything that I'm trying to do. I'm human, but I'm also aware that the biggest competition is with myself. Same as with everybody else. That is so incredible to me.
I tried a bunch of times, getting into the world of proffessional world of writing before the Shack was created, and wasn't really happy with what I saw. Actually, I HATED it! Perhaps I wasn't looking in the right places, or just had a few (hundred) bad experiences with it...but it wasn't what I thought it would be at all. I thought it would be this huge pool of gifted people who all learned from one other and tried to build and grow and bounce ideas off of each other to improve their own craft and bring their comrades up with them. What I 'found' was this...I dunno....'snobbery', and it seriously turned me off to the whole thing. It was just a lot of pompous people who didn't even have time to really try to grasp what I was saying, and didn't want to give any feedback at all. Either that, or they would give me ONE sentence to say, "Nice Story!" followed by a short paragraph of nitpicking and complaints and how they would have done so much better. So the whole idea of my story got completely lost, and it was buried under this 'traditional method' of writing and the people who had supposedly mastered it with a lot more skill than I had. Psh! I write as a form of expression. If I just wanted to make money, I'd be an accountant. If I just wanted to get published and see my name in print somewhere, I'd sent an editor's letter to my favorite magazine. That wasn't writing to me. That was 'English Class' with a paycheck. So to me it was like, what's the point? I had another website, I went on newsgroups, websites, I passed out stuff at the college student center and left email addresses and the like, I was EVERYWHERE! I did TWICE as much than I did for the Shack. Just trying to get someone to read my stuff....and that's all I got...a luke warm shoulder just a few degrees above being cold. There wasn't even an INCENTIVE to get better. It was a silly 'pat on the head' by someone who, I guess, was supposed to be light years ahead of me. And that was more frustrating than anything. That's why it takes me soooooo long to read someone else's stories now and reply. Because I want to give a FULL reply, with good points, bad points, suggestions, highlights....the works. When I give feedback, they know I read the story and cared about what it was saying, you know? None of the 'professionals' could be bothered to do that.
When I started the Shack, however, and wrote that first chapter of "New Kid" on a whim....I got answers back the very next day! And the day after that, and the day after that. GOOD feedback, comments, and criticisms that didn't come off as being the 'word of God' or something being translated into simple terms for some underling who didn't know what he was doing. People signed the guestbook, they came by the message board, they connected with the message, and paid attention to the theme even though I had a variety of mistakes here and there. They actually supported me! THAT helped! That is what kept me writing and really made me challenge myself and grow as a writer. It's not that I was some awesome undiscovered writer, it's not that I can't take criticism, but I got TIRED of being spit on from a supposed 'elevated position' all the time. That's not cool at all, and it really does make me want to redirect that kind of cold shoulder to the professional aspect of writing, even now. But like I said, maybe I was looking in the wrong places.
After the Shack got a lot of attention and the site began building up more and more "bonafide hits" on the story archive, I received some emails from some very cool websites that wanted to publish them. They were willing to pay me for them and host them on their site. A few even offered to make them a part of their magazines or put them in print. Believe me, that was absolutely MINDBLOWING for me! And I truly appreciate and love each and every one of the people that made me an offer! I still keep those emails to this day, and if I stumble accross them in my archives while looking back, it still gives me an adrenaline rush to know that someone was interested enough to even make the suggestion! Still....even though these folks were MUCH more friendly and understanding of my work...the 'rules' kinda crept back in. It's hard to explain, and probably sounds pretty stupid to you guys, but I just...I don't try to control what I write. It just happens on it's own, and that is what makes it special to me and to you. I can't force myself to change the ages of the characters, and change situations, and take out the sex, and remove characters, and work on a strict timeline, and add this and subtract that. I could try, but it would come off as stiff and mechanical for me to do that. Trust me, I've tried. It feels jerky and rigid and I get so wrapped up in the details of the 'craft' that the 'art' gets lost again, and I'm useless. Most readers, especially if you already have a fanbase, know when you're trying to force fit yourself into a certain format. People can TELL when you're being lazy and try to run out on certain details or hiding certain feelings from them. People can TELL when you're trying to be overly 'wordy' and just trying to impress with your use of the language. People can TELL when you're cutting corners and rushing to get to the 'good parts' or to end the story before it's ready to be over. Now don't get me wrong, I could probably write well enough to 'get by' and maybe even get published...but I'd get bored with it quick. I'd resent myself for 'half-assing' the whole thing. I guess what I'm saying is...no paycheck is really worth sacrificing what you feel inside. It's something I'm going to have to dettach myself from completely if I EVER want to have a career in this particular field! Hehehehe! But...for now, I'm just having fun, and the Shack lets me be myself more than any other place in the world. I like that.
In the future, I definitely want to persue writing. Whether it's books or film or television....whatever it is, it's in my blood. It's my chance to go back and make those cartoons I watched better, adding those little touches that I was missing out on when I was little. It's my chance to improve on those little comic books that Jory used to go so crazy over at the cattle calls, and the kids in school used to beat the boredom of quiet time. It's my chance to show all of those people that were too proud and too proper to really give me any attention back when I was struggling to have a voice out there and be heard. Overall, it's the most relaxing and theraputec part of my life. I still go blank and escape the whole world when I'm writing and nw that I've been practicing "in front of an audience" for a few years, I have enough confidence to maybe give the professional thing another shot. I've grown SO much because of this site, because of YOU guys, and I've gotten enough 'rehearsal' to write almost anything at this point. So...wish me luck! And remember, if you've been disheartened or rejected or criticized for whatever it is that you do creatively, writing, painting, drawing, singing, whatever...keep going anyway. Find an outlet, and create your own voice. Even if it goes against the 'rules' a little bit. If you speak from the heart and truly believe in your ability to present it to someone else...then they'll get it. I promise you, they'll get it.
Seezya on the 'page'! :)
This page was last updated on February 11, 2016.