There are a few people – and I mean few – who I’ve told that my graphic novel about aliens and their gods that I’m currently working on feels like it’s coming from somewhere else, somewhere outside of myself. I’ve told a few people under no uncertain terms that it doesn’t feel like this story belongs to me, that I’m simply telling it in the best way I know how.
Sure, it was my story for a little while – for about 60 or 70 pages, probably, before my work caught Someone’s attention and they decided that it was the perfect medium to to tell their story.
Automatic writing is a vague and distant cousin to what I feel that I’m doing in scripting and drawing this to-be 600+ page behemoth. For about 300 pages now I’ve done little editing, and I’ve never gone back to re-read the story in its entirety, and yet… it still makes sense, apparently. The pacing is great, I hear. The characters develop and stay consistent to themselves. Themes and devices I introduce early on almost always get resolved.
I rarely feel as if I’m making this story up anymore. It just comes to me a little too easily.
And this is coming from someone who sucks at coming up with stories. Who couldn’t do NaNoWriMo or a 24-hour comic to save their life. Who writes poetry or prose and will edit it mercilessly, sometimes picking at it for years.
But this comes unsettlingly easy. I don’t know who’s dictating this tale to me, but I sure a hell am doing their work and telling their story.
That’s one kind of capital-w Work, though. The other is the kind that Dver talks about here.
When I stayed at the Black Stone Hermitage and the conversation turned toward the Gods, I laughed awkwardly and told her about the deal I’d struck with the Twins – that I was to serve Them and no one else, for an entire year. She asked what They generally liked as far as offerings went, and I laughed awkwardly again and said none, as far as I can tell. They want no shrine, no image, no ritual, no offerings of trinkets or food or art – They just want my labor. My blood, sweat, and tears. She chuckled in a knowing sort of way, and just said “Oh. They’re that kind of God.” I nodded and grinned like an idiot, not really knowing what I was nodding to – I still don’t, but Dver’s post above made it click just that much more.
I’ve spent 6 months doing what They asked. I’ve abstained from ritual, from putting up shrines in my new (temporary) home, and from actively worshiping other Gods. I’ve spent a lot of time drawing and writing. Most of my time, actually. And the vast majority of the time, I haven’t felt Their presence or heard from Them. Naturally, that sucked. I agreed to be Their exclusive plaything for an entire year, and the Two didn’t even have the courtesy to show up and check in with me? Are They really that selfish?
Still, I kept my end of the bargain. I marveled at the Old Man from afar, swooned at devotion of others for their gods, but I’ve stayed away, on the fringes, keeping my spiritual head down and nose to the creative grindstone. And all the while I kept wondering to myself, where are They? What do They really want from me?
There’s a weird synergy that happens when I get into the groove of making things. It’s like blowing on the lip of a bottle: most angles produce noteless sound, but if you find the right angle, the sweet spot, the tone is firm and clear. I’ve found my creative sweet spot more times in the last 6 months than I have in the past 6 years. And little did I know that the Twins were working through me in those moments.
But those moments aren’t necessarily easy, too. I learned a long time ago that They don’t give a damn what I draw or write, so long as I do it, and do it often. Preferably in the frenzied state of an adrenaline rush without a single other care in the world, but that way lies madness, and I’m not into that sort of thing (at least, not to the point of no return). Weird porn art? Sure. Lovecraftian horror fanfiction? Why not. Meaningless graffiti in bathroom stalls? You betcha. Graphic novels about aliens and their gods? Definitely.
I’ve had lots of inner dialogues in the past 6 months about the future of my industries, the future of art, the future of my chosen media. (They like that I plan to go analog with my art-making – if only because that means more blood, sweat, and tears, and that more of my work will exist in the physical world. Digital is so sterile in that way.) The thoughts that this Work has inspired in me is hard stuff. It’s the stuff of “how will I pay the bills?”
I can’t believe that I’m halfway done with this project with Them. And at the same time… I can’t believe I’m only halfway done. (I miss the Old Man.)