So I have talked a lot over the last couple of months about one of the definitive events of my life as a writer. That was the chance that I had to meet and get to spend time with the creators of Virtue Publications at the first Philly Comic Fest. I am going to wrap up my retelling with this installment.
Now let me start by saying that as a life long comics fan and hopeful creator, this was an amazing opportunity to be involved with a company that was starting from the ground floor. It was truly a dream come true. But there is nothing more lonely than being a writer without any published work sitting at a comic booth. There is a truth to the fact that comics are a visual medium and when fans want to check out a new book from a company that they have never heard of, they are looking at the art work that is done.
So here I was with the only thing to do would be to write something to pass the time. Unfortunately nothing is worse for my creativity than a blank page. At this time I was still trying to refine my narrative voice by writing short stories when I was stuck on a project that I was working on. So with only one sentence going through my head I decided to write it down on the page in order to get myself started.
“What am I doing here?”
I rolled that sentence around in my head. I kept asking myself where would I be that this would be the most obvious thing to be going through my head. I ran through several options but finally decided that my main character/narrator was a man sitting in the waiting room of a Ob/Gyn office. I then asked myself why would this be a bad place to be. The character is sitting and waiting for his wife as she gets a check-up after she has had a miscarriage of their first child. At this point things started to flesh themselves out. The idea that the husband and wife were not talking. The fact that they both were holding on to anger at each other for the death of the child. I wrote this story in probably less time than any other story I have ever written in my life. And it was the best thing I had ever written up to that point. It is a story about grief and anger, about punishing yourself as you lash out at the world. And more than anything else it is about the slap in the face that wakes you up to how you have been treating those that you love the most.
I returned home at the end of the convention and immediately typed the story out on my computer and saved it, printing out a copy for me to keep. This was the first time I had ever written something that could be considered literary fiction. A story about people, not vigilantes or detectives. Not Heroes and Villains. A small story that talked about the horrible things that the characters go through on a human scale.
I really didn’t have much contact with Virtue after that. They never did to the best of my knowledge release any issues of Ventures of the Virulent. While I have never strayed very far from my love of speculative fiction and detective stories. This is the point in my life that I first saw what I could do when I wrote stories about the people first.