Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek


It took me a few months, but I started writing something new last night.

That's probably misleading, since, after all, I have been writing since I finished the book. I've been writing comic scripts, but I haven't begun anything new, because Nowhere Near Savannah is pretty much mapped out to the end now, and it doesn't require me to spend time finding the voice or tone of it; if anything, when I look back at the comic, I can see moments where I began something, but didn't follow through, or comics which I thought worked well at the time, but in the whole of the piece, don't fit so well. That's mainly the first two or three comics, I think, and that's really a matter of just altering things so I could pick the themes up a little earlier, begin the conversations that I found myself interested in. Not that this is any different to any work I've written: as soon as I see it, all I see are the flaws, the cracks I could have made neater, the things I could have done. But anyhow, no matter that I was writing the comics, I hadn't written anything new that was prose since finishing the book, not that this was any kind of surprise, since every time I've finished a book, I've crashed out for a few months.

I don't make a living out of writing, but I could if I wanted. Oh, I don't mean I could sell a book quick, pump out some tie ins or bullshit like that, no. I mean if I wanted to make my living writing I could go and get a lot of work for hire work, doing technical writing, going freelance for articles, that kind of stuff. It wouldn't be easy to start with, but I can work to a deadline, work for different needs, and the writing itself doesn't require a lot in technical skill. Maybe it's a conceit for me to believe that I could do that, but I've done enough of it in my life to believe I could pick it up and make a living if I wanted to do so. If it would be a good living, that's a different question. Regardless, however, I don't do this. About five years ago I had a moment where I actually sat down and worked out how I was going to do this writing thing, and I decided then not to do that. Instead, I teach to make cash. I do it because I'm good at it. Undeservingly so, I often think, because teaching doesn't mean a whole lot to me, and I never put in the work I do to it that I do with my writing (of which people also say nice things). Also, I'm perfectly happy to teach any old thing so long as the cash is there. I don't worry about age or audience. I do the gig, I take the moment, and I go home. I enjoy it, too, because when teaching is working, there's a nice atmosphere and relationship going on, but there's no illusion about me being there for love.

My writing, though, I've never viewed that way. I didn't get into writing to make it feel like a job I didn't care about. It was--and still is--something I'm passionate about, something that is way for me to engage with the world, to work through the conversations in my head, and so forth. I've gone along far enough now that I'd like to make at least half my living from it--all if it even--but it has to be on the terms I have, on the things I want to write, and so on. Since you can well note my complete lack of credibility as a author with a large demanding audience who drive around in dark vans and capture people and brain wash them, you'll be unsurprised to learn that there's not a whole line of publishers offering me trucks full of csh to do this. It's an imperfect way of living, but I can get buy on teaching, so I don't need to sell, to be popular, to be read. All that stuff is nice, don't get me wrong, and I'd like it, but the way I organise what I write, and how I do it, has more to do with impulses and urges and whatever I have churning inside my head, and I like that more. Sometimes, there's just nothing there, or there's half an idea, and I don't know how to use it, and when it's like that, I don't push the thing. Maybe that's precious of me. It most certainly is the action of someone who doesn't need to make a cheque out of the next thing he sells, but that's the entire point. I guess what I'm trying to say is I didn't worry that I didn't write something new for a few months after I finished the book. Maybe one day everything I want to write about will dry up, and I'll put it aside, but I know I have things to interact with, and it's just waiting for everything inside my head to click round, to lay out what I want, and go from there. It may not seem like it, but I'm a patient guy, and I'm not going to rag on my subconscious as it works whatever it has to do to get me to where I'll be writing something. I just keep going, consuming information, reading books, listening to people, and something will appear.

Maybe that doesn't make any sense. Maybe it does.

Either way, I began working on a piece called 'Convicts' last night, and it's about being trapped in the roles society defines for you. Likely that'll change by the end, but the first line goes, "He knew that she was too young for him, but that was part of the attraction."

It has a nice vibe, that.

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