Sunday, October 2, 2016

Writing Comes Alive: The Beauty of Collaboration

Writers, particularly independent ones, see the idea of having their work come alive in visual media as a dream, or a completely un-achievable goal (for all the pessimists out there). The exception to this would be comic and graphic novel writers. They write specifically for the visual medium, and there's a lot we can learn from them and what they do. Writers are, by definition, dreamers. And we like to dream big. But there's a downside to that. When we think of our writing in a powerful visual medium, we think TV and movies, or at least a web series or something. We overlook so much dreaming so big.

There are numerous ways writing can come alive as visuals. One of the most common ways (and one of the most oft overlooked ways) is that of the comic. When we think comics, most of us probably think of the old generation classics, Batman, Superman, Marvel/DC, etc. But comic art has changed immensely since then. Not only is it more accessible to comic artists, it is much more of an accessible medium to writers as well. And I don't think a lot of people realize that yet. The great expanse of the internet has allowed not just independent writers to flourish and spread their art, but artists of all kinds. Collaboration between artists is easier than ever, we just need to utilize it.

Honestly, it was only recently that I discovered how easy and how mutually beneficial collaboration can be. Several months ago, a friend and I decided to collaborate on a web comic (see: collaboration being easier than ever). On a basic level, it was clearly beneficial to both of our work ethics. It required them to draw, and required me to write. It added a whole new level to the production of art. We weren't just fucking ourselves over anymore if we stopped, and there's very few motivations better than that. This collaboration also allows both of us to showcase our skills in a way that people can view and enjoy for free, and get a sense for our work in an easily digestible way that doesn't require much personal investment to get through. A comic reads far faster than novel, and comes with the additional creative voice that is illustration. 

From the writer side of things, and beyond the basics, a collaboration that allowed my work to come alive meant access to something that I long thought impossible. Not only was it a chance to see my writing personified, but it was a chance to see just how well I was doing at painting word pictures. If a scene didn't come out the way I was expecting in terms of setting, or other non-dialogue aspect, then it would show a problem in my narrative and descriptive power. If it didn't hit the page like I thought, it was on my descriptions. But, I can breathe a sigh of relief, because so far everything has come through simultaneously just like I imagined and better than I could have ever imagined (see: power of illustration). That's the beauty of visual media, it can give you everything you wanted, and the things you never knew you wanted.

If you take anything from this blog post, take this: collaborate more. Not just with others in your medium, but those outside it. I would be hard pressed to think of anything that has expanded my imagination ability more in such a short time. It doesn't even have to be writer/visual artist. It can be anything. Collaborate with musicians, media artists, sculptors, the list is endless. And if you look at anything on that list and say "impossible" then you're not imagining great enough.

Being a writer, it's hard for me to imagine the impact of collaboration from the other end, but I hope it is just has wonderful and beneficial to them as it is to me. If collaboration is done right, you'll be helping both yourself and the other artist(s) there working with you. Artists don't help other artists nearly as much as they should. Collaboration can bridge that gap, we just have to do it.

And to all the closed off artists out there, whose skin would sizzle if they opened up their art and themselves to their fellow artists (whether we try to or not, artists of all kinds can end up being the most judgmental), there is a way you can still bridge the gap and inspire the artists around you of all kinds: homage. Fan art is the most common thing on the internet today that connects to this. If you enjoy a piece of art, be it a novel, a song, a painting, or anything else, let it inspire you to pay homage. Fan art, at least by my definition, is art created out of respect for another piece of great art. In my opinion, there's not nearly enough of it in the world. Artists, particularly independent ones, struggle to find an audience, much less hear from them. A single piece of fan-made art can inspire another artist to keep on keeping on for years. There's a lot of ways different mediums can come together and help each other, and whether it's long-term collaboration or a simple homage, a little can go a long way.

If you're interested in seeing the result of my collaboration thus far, check out the web comic I'm writing, Resistance. And, if you're looking for my non-collaborative work, check out my Amazon page.