Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Waiting by the virtual phone ...

Sometimes being a writer can be like being the more desperate member of a potential new couple. Especially a comic book writer. The editor or artist is the nice new man in your life.*

You meet, make small chat, talk about people you may both know. Then one of you compliment the other.

"You have really nice, strong lines."

The compliment is returned.

"Thanks. I love the way you do dialogue."

The connection is made. He orders another round of drinks and as the night goes on your brain swirls with small talk, compliments, and promises of the future.

"We really should do something together," he suggests provocatively near the end. You exchange phone numbers.

Then you wait by the phone. Will he call you? Should you have let him have your way with you on the first date (and written a script on a table napkin there and then, not carrying what anyone else in the cafe thought).

The days pass. Did you come across as too needy? Did he not like your words? Is he just busy, like he said he was? Is that him on the phone right now? No. Damn telemarketers.

Then he calls. Your heart goes a flitter-flutter. He wants you to write for him. Something just for him. You start immediately.

You submit your first draft to him ... words poured out directly from your soul.

You wait for his call again. And wait.

You can't sleep. You find yourself staring at the phone, hearing it ring in your head.

He calls.

He loves it.

But ...

There's always a but. I don't like big buts.

He offers a few suggestions. Minor changes. You listen. You agree with him (what else can you do?). You make the changes.

It's not your word you are changing; it's yourself. Maybe he'd like your hair shorter? Longer? Try a different perfume? Should you wear something low-cut? Sometime tighter? You could lose a few pounds (or pages). Perhaps get a push-up bra? Maybe you could get some implants?**

You meet him again, having re-made yourself. He looks you up and down. You wait for his judgement. You wait for his acceptance ... but you expect his rejection.

No wonder so many comic book writers turn to lesbianism (prose writing) or staying home alone (poetry).

*Yes, I know, making the women the more desperate one in the relationship is telling in several ways: it shows that I'm comfortable with my feminine side, but that equality still has a way to go as it is easier and more generic to write the weaker side of a heterosexual relationship as the female.

** I've actually done this to a story ... given it implants. I changed the main character from a man to a woman. I noticed I write rather weak male leads. But, presto, change the lead character to a woman and she's suddenly a strong character. Again, I can't help think this says a lot about the imperfect world we live in.

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