Friday, April 25, 2014

Cap, SHIELD, and the writer's conundrum

April 21st ended up being "Marvel Comics Monday" by accident.

First, I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  A good installment in the Marvel canon but perhaps not as good as its predecessor.  On the other hand the action is diverting and there is of course the ever-so-delectable Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow.

After that, I caught up on the episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that had been languishing upon my DVR for the past couple months.  If you've seen the Cap movie, then you know the massive role that SHIELD plays in the plot (it also has Batroc the Leaper!) This got me thinking about a couple of things.

First of all, I'm really liking how Marvel is reworking their highly integrated comic book universe to fit TV and movies with the same level of interconnectivity.  You don't have to watch all of it, but you get a much richer experience if you do.  Secondly, I want to write a "super espionage" series.

I'm talking about a clandestine organization that specializes in the collection of information.  They know there are a lot of bad people in the world and something has to be done about it without the hoi polli being any the wiser.  These specialists would come with all of the tropes.  There would be combat operatives of the kind that specialize in close quarters fighting and know the nearest safehouse in any world city.  There would be computer hackers and scientific geniuses who support them.  There would be crack vehicle operators.  And of course, we'd hear the classic (read "cliche") lines from characters on the S.H.I.E.L.D. series, such as "The Bus leaves in ten minutes" and "Those are my people on that op!"  Are there super powered beings like Captain America involved?  Don't know, but it might push things into the direction of "SpyFi" and that could be kitschy fun.

It's right about there that the stern bucket of reality dumps cold water right into my groin.

I need to publish.  Sounds silly and perhaps even conceited for me to say that.  Any writer needs to publish or at least wants to.  When you're a writer whose main job is teaching at a college, however, your fiction publications are your lifeblood and they need to be of a certain standard...and genre writing is not among said standards.  Especially not of the kind I've just described.  As a writer, I really need to re-prioritize...and this is not something that is of "serious intent."

So why couldn't I do it "just for fun?"  Much of my work with Jake Timber is intended as such, even though writing for Jake can be an utterly miserable experience.  Contradictory?  Sure.  But we writers are full of those.  The real problem is that I notice my available time getting shorter and shorter, especially if I want to stay married.  There are only so many projects I can focus on at a time.  Sometimes it feels like I'm capable of only one at a time at best.

That brings up another grim strand of inner loathing.  I'm scared.  I'm scared that I'm a really bad writer.  Especially when it comes to fiction.  I think my fiction is missing something.  What that is exactly I don't know but it must be.  Otherwise I'd have more stories published by now.  Come on, I have a Masters degree in this stuff.  I thought I would be good at it  by now.  The missives of rejection would indicate otherwise.

It could be that I'm just really really bad at writing stories.

What to do?

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