I wanna be a novelist. Seems easy enough.
When I was a kid, my family would take vacations to Walt Disney World. A favorite pavilion at EPCOT Center was Journey into Imagination. The old version is gone now replaced with something sleeker, more modern, and with a bit less heart. However, the original lives on in my memory. The song, “One Little Spark” was one of those earworms that would stick with my brother and me for days. We’d be singing, “Imaaaaagginaaation, Imaaaaagginaaation…” so much I’m sure we drove our parents a little crazy.
Looking back at that time, I was more than a little influenced by it to be creative in my way. Of course, I was influenced by books, movies, television, comics, and a whole host of other stimuli.
When I was in the third grade, I wrote what I think was my first story. It was entitled “The Bionic Spider versus the Bionic Fly.” Catchy. I remember the visuals and drawing the action. I wish I could remember how the story went, but I’m confident the Bionic Spider won (I was reading a ton of Spider-Man comics at the time).
The material was hardly groundbreaking, but the borrowing of ideas from several different sources and trying to come up with something new and original was there. I wasn’t plagiarizing so much as trying to find a unique combination of ideas I had never seen before.
Austin Kleon in his book, Steal Like an Artist, takes that thought to its logical end as he explains the right way and wrong way to be creative. The text reads like a manifesto of ideas and is highly inspirational. You don’t have to be a writer, designer, musician, actor, or any other “artist” to appreciate the book. In fact, author and prolific blogger Seth Godin would argue everyone should be an artist anyway.
The video series, Everything is a Remix, addresses that same idea of combining ideas to create something new. Kirby Ferguson’s videos nail down the concept of “copy | transform | combine” as the essential elements of creativity and eloquently explain how it all works together.
My comic book creation, Slip Kid, was inspired by several sources. The lead character, Clay Gates finds he can teleport. I was inspired by the Star Trek transporter and the X-Men character Nightcrawler. I grew up with James Bond and Mission: Impossible and so I wanted to include a secret spy organization. A search for a missing father seemed like the perfect “quest,” and the name for the whole thing was a nod and wink to my favorite comic as a kid, The Legion of Super-Heroes and The Who.
It was only later I learned about the novel Jumper, and aside from the teleportation concept (hardly unique), it was no different than any other coming of age story. Still, the fact there was a pretty famous novel with sequels and a movie made me stop working on Slip Kid for years.
Recently, I found all six comic book scripts for the planned Slip Kid comics. I had only produced the first issue and shelved the rest. Flipping through them, it rekindled my desire to do something with the concept.
So, I’m going to write a novel based on Slip Kid.
The hard parts of breaking out the story, setting up characters, and building the world are already done. Six full comic scripts is a way more detailed outline than anyone would ever need. Writers who adapt screenplays have less content to work with than I do here. It’s pretty much ready made for me to start writing.
So, here I go. Living in a house full of books made me want to be a writer. It’s high time I find out what kind of writer I am.
I’ll probably post updates and excerpts as I go because it sounds like fun.
As the silly song lyrics go from a bygone era, “A dream, can be a dream come true. With just that spark, in me and you.”