All the reading I’ve been doing these past few days has been giving me a headache. Last night I set about immersing myself in the scholarly studies on utopia, and the other nights orienting myself on the societies of ancient civilizations, all part of my prepping for the next book. So much to read, but with each session I could actually sense my brain piecing the bits of information along the plotline, making the story more coherent and logical. There should be room for inferences and assumptions, creative licenses no doubt, but I needed to refer to historical accounts, past and present, to add a level of realism to the piece.
I’d ask myself why I put myself through this, going through this wracking cerebral exercise. Isn’t a simple story enough for me? Can’t I just continue with Zsazsa Zaturnnah and reinforce myself that way?
It’s not that I find simple stories or Zsazsa Zaturnnah too simplistic. They, in themselves, pose their own sets of challenges. How does one make a simple story extraordinary in its simplicity? How does one sustain the light-heartedness and coinciding depth of Zsazsa Zaturnnah over the long run?
I suppose the greatest Zaturnnah challenge would be: how does one keep that market-perceived novelty alive? Comedies have been the most difficult to sustain. Compared to dramatic stories, comedies ultimately lose the ability to keep bellies shaking to the point that the punchlines feel forced. I’ve received feedback that Part 2 of Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah was “not as funny” as Part 1, alluding to readers’ expectations of what it’s all about. And it may surprise some when I say here that ‘comedy’ is not the first word I’d use to describe Zsazsa Zaturnnah.
But dissecting the market expectations issue vis-à-vis a comic creators’ artistic integrity is an entirely different subject altogether, so I’ll stick to the subject at hand.
Challenging myself is an important aspect of my creative experience. It’s my personal choice to push the boundaries of my paradigm to explore or touch on various subjects that have piqued my interest. Why not try a science fiction story, using facts and theories of the sciences not as a mere backdrop to a tale, but as integral to plot and character development? Why not go for a horror story, searching for those elements that make us truly frightened, or at least disturbed, beyond the atmospheric requisites of blood and death and darkness? I know for a fact that I will not truly succeed in all genres, but to aim for success is still a goal, laying the groundwork for desiring education and growth.
I feel that it’s my obligation as a storyteller not to keep to my safe box of ideas, and encourage myself to examine situations from other angles. There are those who are good and those who are evil. But there are also those who are good to some and evil to others. And there are even reasons behind the good that are inherently evil. Black, white, and grey, and I’d like to focus on the grey.
Don’t expect this exploration and increase in knowledge to wholly manifest themselves in stories anytime in the future. I don’t intend to release all of what I write, because it’s not part of the goal. (In 1998, I wrote a full-length script for a graphic novel, and I had drawn a few pages of it, but I decided it wasn’t worth spit.)
For all you know, my next book might actually be Zaturnnah’s next adventure.