The San Diego Comic Con felt like imagination boot camp. I went to at least 15 panels in 4 days, seen previews of Once upon a Time in Wonderland and the main series, and got to meet one of my favorite authors and get her autograph.
Before Comic Con, my creative energy was pretty dried up. Life would revolve around work and a passive consumption of entertainment and video games. I stopped writing, and maybe the dream of becoming an author just died some time ago after realizing that my stories or ideas weren’t good enough.
While at Comic Con, I realized what was killing my passion. I was trying hard to be someone else. In writing and in life, I had always tried to push myself to be like someone I’m not. Write like the bestselling authors, aim for at least a 70K salary. “Write fantasy. That sells really well,” someone would tell me. “When will you be the next JK Rowling?” another would joke.
Though they’re meant to be encouraging, these comments just added barriers. What if I don’t like fantasy, or witches or vampires or fairies? I tried to write in these genres and failed to come up with 10 pages. The only time I got to be creative was in college, when I wrote about families, friendships and cross-cultural adventures…with joy and passion…and came up with 330+ pages.
I guess I’ve forgotten/ignored my own voice in trying to be a carbon copy of successful people.
Instead of asking “Who I want to be”, I should ask myself, “What do I want to achieve?” And as a writer, I finally asked myself: why do I want to write for teens (young adult fiction). In an older post, I said I wanted to make role models. That goal manifested in preachy and convoluted stories, with characters that weren’t real to me.
At Comic Con, I saw so many teens (and adults) with that sparkle in their eyes as their favorite authors talked – or the joy, the hoots, and excitement of young boys and girls as their favorite books and games are showcased.
This is the goal I did not see. To inspire emotion out of someone. Like a torch in the dark igniting an entire forest, media can set one’s passions ablaze. That is what Comic Con as a whole did for me, and it opened my eyes to want the same thing for others.
This idea sprouted randomly while I was at a 7 or 8pm panel of novelists and comic book writers. They weren’t that popular, but it didn’t matter. Not every art, idea or story will be or should be a bestseller. It just needs to be out there. If people like it, then good.
In YA fiction, it’s the teen experiences that make it YA. I have my own experiences to draw from, and these experiences make me and my voice unique. “Write what you know,” the old rule goes. I finally understand its meaning when applied to YA: write from what moved you as a teenager. Write from the heart, because only you can write that story.
All in all, it’s time to revise my writing philosophy. Why I Write: I write to be able to see and enjoy seeing that sparkle in the eyes of these kids.
In the next few posts, I’ll be summarizing my notes on the various panels I went to. Stay tuned~