Nik of Time

Humans are pattern makers. When we see the world around us, we force new things to look like things we already know. It helps us to understand the world. When we apply these "patterns" to events they are called "stories". Stories are simply understandable, related, patterns of events. They make sense to us because they echo patterns that we have seen in the world around us. It makes sense to us for a story to have a beginning and an ending because we have seen that days begin and end.

The patterns into which we cram our stories come from observing events in our real lives.

Or maybe not.

Maybe we perceive our lives in story units because our brains have been wired with story patterns.

Simply, does art imitate life or does life imitate art?

Case in point. I have been stuck on the 9th issue of my Rapid City comic book.

The first eight issues left the character in a very dark place from which there seemed to be no salvation. He was stuck there, and I was stuck also. How do I get him out? How does he get himself out?

I reached out. I called people I know who know how stories work. Micah helped me to get a little bit of perspective on the story as a whole... and had a hilariously bad idea about the ghost of a puppy showing up to offer Yoda-style wisdom. Helpful, but not the answer. Then, late last night, Nik finally got back in touch with me. I laid out the problem for him and we talked about some solutions. The answer, it seems, is to make the original motivating drama much deeper and more painful. To get past what has just happened, my character must go back and deal with the problem that put him in this spot to begin with.

Of course.

And so, in proper metaphorical style, I must go back into my own life and dig up similar experiences and draw upon them for my character's reactions.

It is too late to save issue 9. Just like it is too late for Kinetic to save those people that died in issue 8. That problem can't be SOLVED, it can only be taken in and reconciled internally.

Now, thanks to reaching out to various mentors I know how to move Kinetic forward.

So, did my life follow that pattern because I have seen it in stories, or do these stories fit that pattern because it fits my life?

.... Vs The Clock

My deadline for issue #8 is today. I am going to miss it, but not by much. This is bad, but not terrible. I started this project as a learning experience, and I am learning a hell of a lot.

The story that I am writing is a about a man trying to be a superhero. The idea is that his progress at being a superhero will mirror my progress at writing a superhero. So far it has been working out pretty well.

The intentional parallels are very nice, and work well whether or not any reader ever notices them. The real fun for me, though, is when things pop out at me that I did not initially intend to include.

For example, the reason that I am late with this issue is because it is moving toward a definite ending. Two characters and a story arc WILL END within these next few pages. I know how it is going to happen, but I am afraid of doing it. I am afraid that I will bungle the execution, and I am afraid of what will happen after.

Each page brings me closer to that uncertainty, so the longer I can stall it, the longer I can exist in a state of pre-determined purpose.

And guess what the characters are going through in the scenes that I am writing. Exactly that. They are comfortable with DOING when it means going after a bad guy or racing to a new fight... but the lingering dread that every step brings them closer to a conclusion eventually becomes paralyzing.

So take a guess what has been happening to me as I wrote those scenes.

Same thing! The allegory holds!

So last night I was at the scene where the final decision is being made. To be or not to be. And I was afraid to start it. Starting is the first step toward finishing. And finishing one thing leads to the uncertainty of the next thing.

The thing that made my characters move is the same thing that made me move. A ticking clock. For them it is a countdown. For me it is Celtx's session timer. When I see that number going up, adding seconds... and I am not adding words.... I just start typing. If it sucks, I can come back and change it. I just need to fight that clock..... and so do my characters.