Wednesday, December 4, 2013
IWSG December 2013
It's time once again for the monthly meeting of the IWSG, in which we discuss ways to pet goats safely, or something like that.
This month my topic is inspiration. For me, inspiration can and does come from anything. It's the reason I like what I like, because it inspires me, and why I aggressively (sometimes moreso than other times) pursue new books, movies, TV shows, music, or greatly cherish things I've already discovered, because it all circles back to the foundation for what I do myself. Quite frankly, I don't see the point of doing something, especially if you're a creative person, if it doesn't help you create.
There's a funny thing I do, however. Sometimes I avoid things I know I'll find inspiring. Sometimes I'll avoid them forever because I'll have already gotten what I needed just based on the ideas that come to me because of the general awareness, because the mechanics aren't after all so important. I know all I need to know, and perhaps knowing more will only spoil it. And then sometimes I know I'll circle back to that thing eventually, because I fear knowing their content too soon will influence me at the wrong time. Here I'm thinking, at the moment, very specifically about two comic book series. The first is Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
It was not a conscious decision at the time. It was a conscious decision to leave off reading the rest of Jeff Smith's Bone, and that I got back to a few years ago, a journey I completed. Sometimes it's better to see the whole shape of the thing laid out than watch it develop. I guess it was the same way with Heroes, which I didn't start watching until its third season. Maybe that's why I became a far bigger fan than everyone who fled the series at around the same time. With Sandman, I was maybe too young by a few years to truly appreciating what Gaiman was doing, and by the time it ended I was so far behind I felt overwhelmed, didn't even try to catch up for years. But I knew something special had been accomplished, something far more complicated than anything I'd enjoyed to that point. And as I picked away at the edges of that accomplishment, I started to see how much it began to help me along my own creative development, to play by my own rules rather than those established by and apparently for others.
The other comic book was James Robinson's Starman. This was a more traditional, superhero series. At the time I was obsessed with Mark Waid's Flash. In a lot of ways, the two series were pretty similar, steeped heavily in tradition and lineage. Starman was darker than Flash, however. It was not very mainstream, either. Like Sandman, I quickly realized that falling behind in this story was only going to work against me if I tried to just jump into it. I needed to see the whole shape. Okay, in Starman's case the shape was not really that important. But I had to give it time. Although I still think of my future in comic books looking more like Flash, my prose resembles Starman a lot more. For something like Starman, waiting for it gives it more resonance, and that resonance becomes a part of the reading experience, like borrowing how the writer originally approached it.
I'm still well off reading the complete runs of either Sandman or Starman, and perhaps it's better that way. Now I still have something to look forward to. A lot of times, especially for comic book fans, instant gratification is the rule of the day. But writers know that patience is a virtue, both in writing and in reading. Writers should be the most patient readers. I try to be, anyway.
And besides, it means they're even more there than they would have been, as I continue to draw inspiration from them. The journey continues.