Tuesday, July 7, 2015

... In Which I Pitch to Oni Press

Back in April of this year, I discovered that Oni Press was accepting pitches from May through June, and I freaked out. Like, I immediately got online and squealed to my friends about it. It was a dream for me. I was aware of the difficulty, seeing as thousands of other creators also saw the pitch; plus, I don't have an artist attached, so my pitch had to be that much better to convince Oni to match me up with somebody who could bring what I wrote to life. I considered doing the artwork myself, but then, because realizations about myself have been A Thing for the past year, I came to the conclusion that, no matter how much I want to be a sequential artist, it's just not my thing. Know your strengths, bro.

So I set about further adapting my new story idea, Paradiso*, into a comic book pitch. I was already halfway there, anyway, so why not, right? Well, here's the thing: stories never turn out the way I start them to. I'm a very organic writer, who does this weird thing where I go into my head, remove myself from the equation, and let the characters talk to each other. Most of the time, I'm just trying to figure out a scene and its dialogue, but occasionally, things happen. In this particular instance, after about a month of scripting scenes and writing summaries, my characters all came together and told me that, nope, we are not ready. Understandably, that left me frantic. It was now near the middle of June, and I needed to have this thing done by the thirtieth. But then my brain did what it usually does and lit a damn light bulb.

I whipped out my promo copy of The Legion and started from scratch.

Now, The Legion is my baby. It's been growing and maturing since I was sixteen years old, when I wanted to write the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also retell Disney's Sleeping Beauty via my newfound feminism. I self-published two novellas (both are available on Amazon - here and here - and CreateSpace - here and here - right now, although I'll probably remove them here soon - they badly need a rework), but that was as far as I'd gotten. A lot of it came from so much self-doubt, which, coupled with depression, didn't really inspire me to write further, even if I had the entire five-arc series planned and ready to go. However, the biggest hurdle was admitting that I was afraid to actually let people see The Legion. What if people thought it was dumb? What if all I got was a giant middle finger and a bunch of professionals side-eyeing me, wondering why I thought I could join their ranks? Shit, even now, it causes me to hyperventilate.

But you know what? As soon as I sat down and actually started over, everything flowed. I was changing the story somewhat because I had to write a six-issue arc - basically, it can stand on its own but hints at a greater epic that is just begging to be told - but it actually made what I was writing work better. It took so damn long to write the outline** and come up with a logline, but once it was done, a huge wave of relief just rolled on over me. Sure, I cried, nearly had a panic attack, wanted to call someone but couldn't find the energy or will to do so, fretted for a few minutes before clicking SUBMIT, and then WHOOM. I think I slept for nearly two days straight. It was pretty amazing.

Obviously, I have to wait for them to get back to me - as of this writing, Oni is promising a response of some kind within 60 days - and there's a certain frantic-ness that floats around me at all times, wondering if they've opened up my submission yet, but I feel good about this. Even if I'm not chosen, I'm not going to give up. I can't give up, especially not now. I've made a pledge to myself, that I'm going to continue to tinker away at my keyboard, writing The Legion and Paradiso and whatever pops into my head - that is who I am. Submitting something is a huge step for me, something I have been hesitant to do since my early twenties; it doesn't help that my stories are deeply personal and reflect so much of myself that it's almost like I'm placing my personality up for sale. But that's where the fear can't play a part in what I do. I promised myself to be honest and truthful about who and what I am, and dammit, I'm just gonna put myself and my work out there.

All they can say at this point is, "No."

* I am currently reworking this, as well, because dammit, when I have a good idea, it sticks with me.
** I loathe outlining anything. In college, I was so glad that I was able to go directly into sophomore English classes - thanks, CPA AP English! - because then I wouldn't have to do the freshman ritual of relearning how to write papers, which inevitably includes the "proper" process of formulating a stupid outline.
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