A wee while back, I hit that weird place between writing projects, that "dead air" where you're waiting for things to hit fruition while also looking for the next project to start on (I know, I know! I broke the golden rule about having more than one project running at a time. Sue me). So, as I scrabbled around looking for something else to sink my teeth into, I decided to scratch an itch I've had for a while and get back to doing some prose writing. And, man, it's one of the scariest things I've tried in a while.
As any writer will tell you (whether you ask them or not), writing is like using a muscle: you need to keep it active and working, otherwise it'll start to atrophy. Whether it's blog posts, copy or that novel you never seem to finish, you need to keep writing, because it's all exercise for your, er, writing muscles. It's all practice, it all feeds back into your skill set and helps you get better. Of course, if I'd actually listened to that advice myself, I may have found the transition from comics back into prose a far smoother experience.
I'll admit, I'm finding it tricky to pick up those prose writing tools again, but, the more I think about it, the more I'm coming to realise that it's a mixture of my own writerly insecurities and outright fear about "going it alone", having no artist to work with and have them make me look like a better writer than I actually am.
See, when it comes to comics, it is, first and foremost, a collaborative medium. You and an artist are a team, working toward the singular goal of trying to tell a good, solid story; if one of you falls short, the other can pick up the slack and keep the momentum going. But when it comes to prose, you, as the writer, are on your own, presenting your own naked form to the world. Well, OK, maybe not that, but you get the idea. Prose is, for better or worse, yours, is the point I'm slowly crawling towards: you made it with your own mind and your own hands, and you own it. It's you, as a writer, showing yourself to the world at large, without anything to hide behind. And, to stop yourself from being embarrassed, it has to be perfect. Or as perfect as you can make it, anyway. Or at least good enough that you can feel OK with having your name on it.
If I'm being honest, I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet, but I'm getting there. I think. Writing comic scripts has taught me a whole hell of a lot about storytelling, which in turn has helped bolster my confidence to start tinkering with some incomplete short stories and see where I can take them - although, I'm still not sure where I'm going with this whole prose thing at the minute, other than just practising. Then again, I could argue I that I'm not sure where I'm going with this comics thing, either...