Tag Archives: scripts

Co-writing with my younger self

I’ve done a fair bit of co-writing with other people over the years. At the moment, I am in the slightly surreal position of co-writing with myself.

Tom and I are working on the 4th book of Hopeless Maine right now. I wrote the original script more than eight years ago, when I knew far less about comics. Younger me had a rather different voice to current me. Younger me did not really know how to lay out a comics page or tell stories visually. Younger me used to just hand scripts to Tom and leave him to figure out how to make it work on the page. Since then, I have become someone who can think pretty well about visual storytelling and how to get the words onto the page. Having a better grasp of the visual side also means I can see which words to take out.

A few years ago, when contemplating how best to handle an old prose piece in the Hopeless setting, I was given some advice from a fellow writer. Don’t you want it to be your best work? They asked. They were clear that I should revise and update it. In the end, I didn’t do that much. I may have more craft skills than I used to, but there are also things I used to do that I couldn’t do now. How I think about people and situations has changed. I no longer tell the same stories. I am wary of assuming that my current writing self is my best possible writing self. I think previous me had some things going for them.

I find myself working with my old scripts, trying to edit them for best effect, and feeling as though I am working with another author. Usually when I edit for people, the other author is there to talk to. This one is dead, or disappeared, or trapped in another time. I have to edit their work without being able to discuss it with them. I try to honour their vision while applying the things I know that they don’t know. It’s a very odd process. It’s shown me there are things my younger self knew and felt that I need to re-find and re-feel.

We don’t always improve with time. Sometimes our first, unpolished attempts can be the best we do because they have the most passion and energy and are least self-conscious. Sometimes the tools we collect freeze us up and have us second guessing ourselves. Younger me frankly had no idea how to write a comic, but was brazen enough to do it anyway. I am at the moment failing to write a script for something because I’m so bogged down in what I know that I can’t get started. The only way to do it will be to emulate younger me, and write the way I used to write, and then come in for a second stage with all the useful, technical things I know.

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Without a script

I want to talk today about the importance of not depending on a bit of paper in ritual. We don’t know much about the ancient Druids, one of the few things there is no doubt about is that theirs was an oral tradition. Bards and Druids alike expected to dedicate a lot of material to memory. This is a good thing, it means you have the words with you wherever you go, and no one can take them from you. I do understand that modern life tends not to encourage the hard work involved, but if you are serious about Druidry, this is a great place to start with really, seriously, doing it.

Paper is a problem in many ways. In low light, rain and wind, it can be unreadable, so if you were depending on it, you may be stuffed. It is a literal barrier between you and everyone else, it may seem small, but you will try to hide behind it. When you’re reading, you’re thinking about reading, not the meaning, not the people around you or the below or the sky above. With the words in your head, you have space to connect mentally with the space as you bring the words forth. If you’ve learned the words you’ve given time to pondering their depth and meaning, and you will speak them with feeling, insight, understanding, you will bring them to life. Even if you stumble and muff up a bit, it will be more alive. Lastly, if you really work and still don’t feel able to go without the paper, you’ll do a far better job for having tried to learn than if you’d gone the easy road in the first place.

I’m a big advocate of speaking in the moment. This takes confidence and practice, you need to know broadly what sort of thing to be saying, and so spending time with scripts can be a good preparation. Speaking in the moment, you can invoke awen and inspiration, you can respond to what’s around you, with feeling, making sense of your ritual space, your people, your experience. A script will not give you that, ever, it’s an imposition on the moment devised in advance based on assumptions about what you will get.

Part of this is about permission to mess up. You may forget the words. You may not spontaneously spout poetry. You may pause. But, you’ll have your head up, and you’ll be present. Whether working from memory or inspiration you will inherently be honouring the Druid tradition. You’ll be more real. We all muff up, that’s fine, it’s part of the learning process. You can’t open to the awen when you’re clinging to a bit of paper for protection, it doesn’t work that way. Learn the words, or don’t, but either way, dare to trust yourself. Dare to speak your Druidry in the moment, like you mean it. The difference is huge.