If there’s one thing that great writers have in common – the true greats we think of when we think of great storytellers – it’s that they write. Certainly, there are great stories where their author put one out and did something else with the rest of their life, but the people we think of as the truly great writers? They didn’t stop at one and done then coast off that lone success the rest of their life. They kept going.
It probably shouldn’t be a wonder that so often, the greats will die with a story half-finished that someone else has to try to piece together so folks have a chance to enjoy it in some capacity.
I certainly don’t want to compare myself to one of the greats. Frankly, when I’m honest with myself I admit that I’m lazy and easily distracted. If I spent as much time actually doing real writing work as I do playing video games or making posts on message boards for whatever reason or otherwise wasting my time with frivolous things, I could probably have at least half a dozen books written by now. Who knows, maybe a couple of them would have even been published.
And while it may seem strange as a guy who’s been around Thought Balloons(!) for four and half years or so and been a full member since just after the one-year anniversary, Comics are not, in fact, my sole leading writing passion. I enjoy writing for other formats just as much – the important thing is that it’s a medium that lets me tell a story.
So ultimately, what does Thought Balloons mean for me that I’ve stuck around and popped out a script each week?
Thing is, that’s exactly it. After all, what does the big header at the top of every single page of Thought Balloons say? “THOUGHT BALLOONS. One page of script a week. Every week brings a new character – Ed”. What is the second rule of Thought Balloons? “We pick one comic character per week and we each write a one page script with that character in it.”
Life does not come with its own deadlines – unless someone else assigns them to you, be it for work or other obligations, you have to set them for yourself. And this is something I have discovered I am terrible at. When I’ve committed to something and given a set deadline by someone else, I have a far easier time getting it done than if I can honestly finish it ‘whenever’. Which means that by committing to Thought Balloons and sticking around, it means that I am committed to getting a script together every week. Ideally while creating something that has some measure of quality to it. If I can’t commit to actually getting a single one-page script written every week, no only does it put into question why I stick around Thought Balloons, it would also force me to seriously question whether I’m really a writer at all.
And that is ultimately what Thought Balloons means to me – it’s a commitment I’ve made for myself, with the help of everyone else who keeps trucking along, to actually get something written every week. Perhaps even more than improving my actual writing skills, Thought Balloons forces me to keep my writing muscles from growing stale, with each week and each new character requiring I put my thinking cap on and figure out a script to go with them. Even in weeks where I don’t actually get anything written that’s intended to be something I hope to get paid for some day, I at least have my Thought Balloons script for the week.
I wouldn’t doubt it’s something that I can credit for the fact that I’ve actually succeeded in keeping my webcomic going rather than giving up on it after a couple weeks in spite of it being a dinky little unknown comic that practically nobody reads (Beat Stuff Up Man, for anyone who wants to take a look).
That’s why Thought Balloons, 5 (4?) Years Later. I’m not a great writer, I’m probably not even a good one. But at least it lets me tell myself that I am, in fact, a writer.