Priorities, Schmiorities

Real talk: I suck at prioritizing my creative projects unless there’s a hard deadline I need to adhere to. What I mean is, if someone else is depending on my portion of the work—an editor, artist, etc.—then hell yeah, I’ll churn that motherfucker out and give it top priority, no problem. Having collaborators depending on you (and you depending on a paycheck) makes prioritization easy.

But if it’s just a project that I’m working on “whenever” that has no publisher yet, no certain promise of a future? Well, that’s harder. I’m not even talking about finding the motivation or time to do it (though that is a very real struggle for many, and writer Delilah S. Dawson had a great thread on Twitter about that recently), but rather what do I do NOW vs. what do I do LATER.

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This Is How I Wrote My First Book

“Writing is hard and takes a lot of time.” – Amanda Pleau, my wife, via Susan Conley, her mentor

When you see writers giving advice on writing, it almost always includes something to the effect of “finish something.” Meaning, don’t just start a bunch of projects and never finish them. This is the struggle, because if you’re like me, you get excited about NEW ideas at the exact same time you get sick of working on the OLD ideas.

And, if you’re like me, you’ve probably got a solid 20 pages of ten half-thought out books that you moved to your Graveyard Folder at the very first brick wall, like Han Solo dropping his cargo at the first sight of an Imperial Cruiser.

It’s easy to go, “Well, Thing A isn’t going anywhere, so what’s the point? I’ll just work on Thing B instead.” Sometimes you abandon things for one reason or another, but it should never be because you think it’s not worth it, or that it’s not a good idea, or you just read something else that is kinda-sorta similar to what you’re doing. Those are excuses your brain uses to trick you into abandoning something you’re not yet confident about.

My first novel has just recently been sent out into the world in hopes of finding a home, which means the manuscript was as solid as my agent believed it needed to be in order to (hopefully) sell. While this doesn’t mean it’s done (the future editor will surely have some suggestions), it does mean that, despite feeling like throwing in the towel constantly, I finished a god damn book.

It’s not a particularly long novel, but it’s a hell of a lot more words than get put into making a comic. No super talented artist to do the heavy lifting (sorry, fellow comic writers, it’s the truth—we have the easy/less essential job).

What it’s about doesn’t matter much at this point (if it sells you’ll be hearing me talk about it relentlessly, so hang in there), but it’s period crime fiction, so there was a hefty bit of research involved along with the plot machinations that accompany a mystery, so, it was pretty overwhelming to me as a first-time novelist.

But if you’re struggling to make it through that first draft, I’ve got the secret for you. The sure-fire way to finish that manuscript:

Sit down and do it, man.

I know, sucks right? It does. It really, really does. But that’s the only way to get it done, because no one else is gonna write that story except for you.

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DC Comics Writers Workshop: What I Learned

This post is about my time in 2017’s DC Comics Writers Workshop, but if you came here looking for The Secret To Writing Superhero Comics, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.

I don’t have anything to share in the way of specifics about the workshop or what I worked on  (but writing “EXTERIOR. THE DAILY PLANET” doesn’t get old, I can say that much). The big takeaway is obvious, but participating in a writing workshop—something I haven’t done at least since college—was invaluable.

First, I learned so much about my own work, style, bad habits, and shortcuts just by having a consistent feedback loop. Knowing that my colleagues would be involved every step of the way and seeing my improvements (or my missteps), throwing out ideas, going big, going small… it was an environment that, much to my shame, I haven’t had a lot of in my career as a professional writer. Making the process collaborative rather than solitary was a huge learning experience for me. Like, why don’t I do this all the time? I can see why a writer’s room is so appealing.

Which leads me to… the people. Of course, Scott Snyder and the Talent Development team at DC are fantastic, the best there is at what they do (I know, I know, I’m crossing the aisle with that one). But the best thing to come out of this, I think, is that I feel like I’ve finally got my own Breakfast Club.

(Top row, L-R) Sanya Anwar, Bobbie Chase, Sara Miller, Some Jabroni (Middle row, L-R) Ryan Cady, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Scott Snyder (Bottom row, L-R) Robert Jeffrey II, Magdalene Vissagio

What I mean is this: A small group of peers who have all gone through something significant together that few people can really relate to unless they were there, man. We’re already continuing to share ideas and work, meeting as a group on our own, and generally keeping each other sane as we get back to the real world.

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DC Comics Writers Workshop 2017, It’s Happening

Growing up a “DC Kid” or a “Marvel Kid” is something that, I think, is probably outdated in this day and age. At least, it seems that way, but that could just be the fact that I’m old now and kids have so much superhero stimulation from so many areas beyond just comics that it seems impossible to me that they could possibly commit one way or the other.

But growing up, I was most certainly a DC Kid, fiendishly worshipping anything with Superman’s S-Shield on it and deep diving into the well of Kirby’s Fourth World, Gotham’s underbelly, Bibbo’s Ace of Clubs, and the surface of the living planet Mogo. DC’s heroes were, and still are, aspirational; it feels like they have something to teach us. Marvel’s heroes are relatable in a way that makes you feel like, hey, that could be ME! But I didn’t always want to read comics to see the world outside my window, I wanted to peek into the window of the universe next door.

So it thrills me to say that I’m going to be stepping through window and exploring it first hand: I’ve been accepted into this year’s DC Comics Writers Workshop, an intensive writing workshop focused on comics—DC superhero comics, specifically—giving the six of us that have been accepted an opportunity to play in the DCU and learn from the best of the best. In this case, that’s writer extraordinaire Scott Snyder and the Talent Development team at DC.

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Why Star Wars: The Force Awakens Breaks My Heart

I feel the conflict within you.” – Luke Skywalker

Spoilers for The Force Awakens to follow.


The Star Wars saga is nothing if not the persistent struggle between the Light and Dark, good and evil, right and wrong. These are notions we can all relate to, which we all know is part of why Star Wars is such a phenomenon. But watching The Force Awakens, I was confronted with a new conflict: my needs/wants as a fan and my rejection of fan ownership.

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