I went back and read a bunch of my old posts last night: I was pretty good! They were funny and insightful and full of colorful language—not too shabby if I do say so myself. I watched my own persona come alive: it was like reading the words of a person I didn’t know, listening to their wicked sense of humor and falling into their views on villains, kids, the world.
Then I realized that was me. Those were my words. I wrote that shit.
Like any activity, writing takes effort and practice and consistency (which I’ve noticed is the second time I’ve used that word in the last 2 days). Without using it, the skill atrophies, the muscle weakens. For writers, the power of perception dims, a witty turn of phrase fails to elicit a laugh, the observations ring hollow—we start to suck.
I’m a good writer—sometimes I can even be great. But I haven’t done it with any consistency or urgency or regularity and now I suck. I don’t even like to read my own shit and it’s my shit. The good part, if there is a good part, is I know this is only temporary.
You know I’m a comic book fan, right? And if you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know I’m a fan of Spider-Man. Spidey’s my dude. What I like about Spider-Man—and what I love about him in Civil War—is that he doesn’t get it right often. The whole premise of Spider-Man is this kid named Peter gets these powers and the first thing he wants to do is use them to get a car to impress a girl (because that is the point of powers). Pete wrestles for money but the promoter stiffs him for his cash, saying “Not my problem.” When that same promoter is robbed, Spidey lets the criminal go, telling the promoter that stopping the criminal isn’t his problem. But it is: that same criminal kills Pete’s uncle—a guy Peter could have stopped but didn’t. That’s where the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” idea comes from.
Spider-Man doesn’t get it right, he doesn’t use his powers for good, and it ends badly for him. Horrible way to learn a lesson, right? But it affects him and every reader the same way: we come to love this kid, to root for him because he endeavors to do the right thing even when things go wrong. When he gets his ass kicked. When he accidentally kills his girlfriend. When he fights more heroes than villains. We grow with him, cry with him, hurt for him.
I try to be like Spidey. I try to show up, put on the suit, swing through these words and phrases, doing my damnedest to make this world a better place. I’ll stumble, I’ll fall off, I’ll write some horrible stuff, I’ll write some majestic stuff. I’m not sure how I’ll become the hero you deserve, but, hey, I’ll figure it out along the way.
BTW – that was a Batman reference.