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Eric: State of the Burns

The question is, what now?

Websnark is going on three years of age, and obviously for the last couple of months it's been at best "quiet." Which is to say I haven't written jack shit for it.

On the other side of the equation, there's the rest of my writing life, where....

...hm. "Not. Jack and Shit."

Nothing of consequence to livejournal. Little to nothing in fiction. Little to nothing in essays or e-mails. Little to nothing... well, anywhere.

My general accessibility has also been much much restricted. I don't e-mail folks. I connect to favored chat hangouts and say nothing all night.

It's not that I'm a complete hermit. I see people at work. I talk to Weds daily, including videoconferencing. (The greatest boon to long distance dating since [inset Mail order Bride joke here].) I speak to my folks.

But I've largely withdrawn into myself. Which happens to me on occasion. My activities become solitary. I just kind of... recharge for a while. Go into a cocoon.

I've had a lot of troubles the past couple of months to boot. Some health. Some financial. Some annoying. (For the record? Losing your driver's license is a pain in the fucking ass and I don't recommend it to anyone.) Some USPS related. I really need to get another major eBay campaign going to start pulling myself up out of some of this shit, but I've been avoiding it, largely because I can't imagine cheerfully announcing more eBay auctions on here without having written anything lately. It seems ungracious, even though I'm not soliciting donations when I do it. "Hi! I'm not entertaining you right now, but feel free to buy some of my old RPG shit!"

Yeah, not so much.

I can tell this one's serious though. because both my father and my fiancée have mentioned that... you know, Eric, you haven't been doing very much writing lately, have you?

Which makes some sense. They all know that writing is kind of my mental checksum. It's what keeps me on keel. And I like to do it. I like it a lot.

So the question is "what now?"

I've thought "I should write about...." for Websnark about two hundred and fourteen times in the last couple of weeks. But I don't have anything ending that sentence just yet. I mean, there's lots of Webcomics out there and I read a bunch, but what can I say about any of them that I haven't already said a dozen times or more. The same with video games or pop culture or political science or what have you. What is there for me to say?

Dad and I discussed my beginning a "chapter a week" fiction writing program, where I do one chapter in a seven day period. It's a good plan. It might get The Recluse done. Or Theftworld. Which is still one of my favorite titles. Hell, I could write Adjusted League Unimpeachable for freaking Superguy if it would get me back on writing track.

But that doesn't help here. And I admit it. I'm selfish. I'm not ready to surrender Websnark. This is a part of my writing landscape. My writing life. My psyche.

It got me engaged for Christ's sake.

And you folks have been awfully good to me. I like you guys. And it seems like that's an important thing too.

So the question is, what should I write about. What can get the spark going? What can get the ball rolling. And make no mistake, when I write (and your milage may vary) there's momentum and inertia involved. It's way easier for me to write five thousand words on day nine of regular writing than three hundred words on day one after time off.

One friend suggested I combine my poverty with my typing skill and auction off topics for me to write about. That's something I've generally been against except for charity, though there does reach a point where it becomes appealing. Though there is generally a feeling of 'payola' involved that makes me quail. "Hi! I just spent five hundred and twelve dollars buying an essay from you. Please write about my webcomic Anime Treacle. Just tell me what you think, okay? No pressure to give me any preferential treatment. Did I mention that five hundred and twelve dollars was my food money for July? No pressure."

...uh... yeah.

So I could solicit for topics. That's always fun. Which, assuming anyone's still reading this (and as of the moment I'm typing this the freaking site's down anyway) means there'll be some comments with suggestions. I'm down with that, but then there's a potential backlog which might seem insurmountable. Or ungracious.

Man, I'm concerned with seeming gracious, aren't I?

Or maybe... maybe I could accept X amount of money to write short vignettes or fiction bits. Do something improv style. Give me a setting, a genre and characters and see what you can come up with, writer boy.

Or would that seem weird?

I dunno.

All I do know is this. I haven't forgotten you guys. I haven't forgotten Websnark, or writing.

Things are just... odd, right now.

Oh, before I forget? Howard Tayler hit seven years like a week ago, over at Schlock Mercenary, and Cheshire Crossing put up issue three in all this, too. Both topics deserve more, but at the absolute minimum, they deserve mention.

EDIT: Just to make things crystal clear, this is not, not, not! a donation solicitation. Some of you guys are amazingly generous and I appreciate that, but dude. I haven't written jack shit for two months. When I'm producing that's one thing, and thank you for your support. When I'm not, your generosity should be turned to the places that are producing. In my humble opinion. Don't make me stop this car and come back there. Don't think for one minute I won't turn around and go right back home. And I'll speed, and I don't have a license on me so if I get pulled over they'll take me to jail! Is that what you want? Well is it?

Posted by Eric Burns-White at June 21, 2007 12:13 PM


Comment from: Ben [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 12:37 PM

You're not looking for more comics to review, are you? I mean, I'd hate to sap all your free time by giving you links to archives to go read through. :)

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 12:44 PM

Heh. The funny thing is, I read like three quarters of those as it is.

Comment from: Hart [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:11 PM

Heyla, Burnsy:

Hee. You mean there are web comics you do /not/ read?

Anyway, sorry to hear of your current difficulties, I thought you were instead enjoying time virtually, aurally or otherwise with good Ms. Wednesday or perhaps writing something professionally. While I cannot lay claim to anything resembling your aptitude, I write enough to empathize with the difficulty of starting once again after a long hiatus.

But... as for helpfulness and the discussion of topics... I continue (and likely always will) associate you with In Nomine. Perhaps an impression of the new file on Asmodeus at e23? Perhaps a retrospective on writing itself? Take a piece of your work from as early as you keep at hand and discuss how it was for you to create that, how it is different or similar to how it is for you to write about it now? Failing that, perhaps the recap on seven years of Shlock Mercenary that helped you break your silence, if only in part? Perhaps you are reading something, I can always use more books to look at and I think I stole all the webcomics links you have here. -g-


Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:14 PM


Actually, Asmodeus does deserve to be talked about. It's pretty cool stuff, written by a cool and talented writer.

Food for thought, and I thank you.

Comment from: Montykins [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:18 PM

Well . . . how awesome is Girl Genius right now, huh? I think their business model is totally working on me, because I can't wait to pay real money to have a collection of this storyline in a book.

Comment from: Elizabeth McCoy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:18 PM

All told, five writers, actually. Three of them for the most recent version, all at once. And I, too, would be interested to see whatcha think of Azzie.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:27 PM

Well, if Sueprguy's moribund state takes the shine off the idea of more ALU, you can always come write for my ASH setting.... :)

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 1:39 PM

I'm afraid I can offer you no words of consolation, for I haven't even started on the summer project I gave myself. Hell, my lunch hour's thirty-eight minutes gone and I don't have a joke selected for tomorrow's comic.

Comment from: gwalla [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 2:33 PM

May I suggest a couple of quickies?

Drew Weing's Set To Sea (still pretty early i the story, but beautiful) and Dean Haspiel's Immortal (one-shot).

Comment from: tfinniga [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 2:49 PM

It seems that the downside of auctioning off wordcount is that then you may be forced to write about things that you'd really rather not.

Another option is to solicit topics and dollar amounts - that they would be willing to pay $X for you to write about Y, with no guarantee that you'd actually accept. That way you wouldn't have to write about anything you don't want to, and hopefully you'd get people that would be willing to pay to see your thoughts on topics other than their own webcomics.

Comment from: Megalomaniac2 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 3:48 PM

Well, I think Sluggy Freelance might be worth a post. Aylee's return and that which has gone down since have definitely shaken things up somewhat.

Let's see, what else...

The Ferret's blog introduced me to a comic called Multiplex which is pretty much pure, distilled filmgeek. And sex. Might be a post in there. I think you'd like DM of the Rings, too.

If reviewing webcomics has ceased to get the muse running, you could diversify into movies, books, random memes, sites... play something other than City of Heroes...

Hope some of that helps. You're still better than the Ferret.

Comment from: Phy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 4:53 PM

Don't take this the wrong way, but you don't need ideas from the cheap seats.

Writers get their ideas from a kabillion places (including, as the old joke goes, 'Schenectady'), but the most obvious places are:

* what do you think about
* what are you are passionate about

If you're not thinking about stuff right now, and you're not passionate about stuff right now, why force it? It'll be there when you're ready.

Of course, my favorite quote from NaNoWriMo was the Roger Ebert quote: "The Muse comes during the work, not before it."

Me? When I ran out of writing steam a year ago, I did the Damon Knight thing. I stopped writing for awhile and created a space opera e-zine to do the editor thing. When I get tired of editing, I write, and vice versa.

Where does that leave Websnark? I dunno. I have the RSS feed in Bloglines. When you /do/ post something fresh, I'll see it. Otherwise, whether you want to force something or not is up to you.

So here you are - what are you passionate about right now? What are you thinking about? We'll be right over here.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 5:01 PM

Old joke, I know, but it's still funny to me that "I have nothing to say" took 1000 words to say.

Good to hear from you, Eric.

Comment from: kirabug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 6:37 PM

Okay, here's an assignment:

three sentences.

You can write more than that if you want to, but every other day (or MWF or TTS if you prefer) you have to post *something*. It can be something as simple as:

In today's [comic], check out the expression on [character]'s face. That's what I love about [artist]'s art - that's the exact expression anyone else would have. I can't wait to see what happens when [character]'s eyebrows grow back.

Or even:

I got nothin'. No, really, there's nothing to say. There, I'm done!

In fact, if you need to start small you can even set the rules that you have to post something somewhere and not necessarily here.

Or not, it's your gig. I'll keep reading either way.

Comment from: eben [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 7:40 PM

If it help get the wheels turning, I'd say you should go ahead and post snippets of whatever random fictive poetry or prose is currently burbling up in your brain. Who cares if its incomplete, raw and unedited? It works for Rebecca Borgstrom on her Hitherby Dragons blog.

Actually, come to think of it, I'd pay good money to commission a piece written by you in homage of RSB's Hitherby Dragons style. Something like the Song of Jeremiah Gannon, only written by you and therefore (probably) much more comprehensible on a first read through? Fantastic!

Comment from: HydrogenGuy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 9:11 PM

It is, in fact, good to read another thousand words of yours, even if it is "I got nothin'".

But seriously, this is the second time you've name-checked it and there still isn't a comic called Anime Treacle. Internet what is wrong with you?

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 10:37 PM

Let's think of all the things I thought, "I wonder what Eric would say about this?" It is:

Girl Genius has moved into new territory, with the enemy being, for once, neither a Wulfenbrach nor the Other, and the Yagerkin being taken out of the equation. (actually I wanted to hear your take on the epic battle that ended the last chapter too).

Anywhere But Here, whose author used to draw his strip, update the prologue, AND aid other comics like Todd and Penguin, is now on hiatus. Illness in the family? Financial woes? No. Jason's problem is that right now he's too HAPPY to plot out the tragic story of his cynical protagonist.

Josh Lesnik, of Girly fame, provided some constructive criticism of how Paul (Pablo) Taylor's Wapsi Square had been going as of late, particularly the artwork. Pablo took the opportunity to create some truly amazing artwork to show that he still has it (although he is still having trouble keeping the epic storyline he wants to tell and the goofy buddy humor that makes us care from conflicting)

Lesnik took a vacation at the end of his latest chapter and decided to talk candidly about some dissatisfaction of his own about both his own strip and webcomics in general. he complained that too many artist were focusing on stroy crafting at the expense of art (strangely he then applauded Pennie Arcade, which I've always fealt had polished, unevolving, effective but unchallenging workhorse art).

Maritza Campos did what she's been waiting years to do and finally killed of one of the characters in CRFH. Sadly, it doesn't seem to have had the impact that it could have (and the "devil's taint turn the good girl evil while the bad guy becomes the martyr/hero" act didn't come off real well, because Mike just can't come off as a hero and April has been falling towards psychosis for so long no one remembers that she used to be the good one).

Lady Yates, of the Earthsong saga, put her adventure on hold to redraw the first chapter. That's really all I have to say, but the very idea of retroactive improvement to a webcomic deserves some discussion.

Willis can't help bringing back Walky characters in Shortpacked. He also can't seem to help creating a Ethan-Amber-Robyn love triangle, even though he's officially made Ethan gay (c'mon Willis, he's an asexual and you know it).

Digger! Digger became a hyena (not physically, just became a citizen of hyenadom). Run in fear prey, for you will be hunted by Little-Mother-of-Earthquakes.

Gunnerkrigg Court just did a lovely peice that finally showcased Kat and not Antimony (and given Kat some very odd romantic leanings Ka-Kaw).

The Whiteboard finally finished up the paintball match that's taken the better part of a year to tell, and finally started to address some of the interpersonal dynamics and romances amonOH WHAT THE HECK, one more game! -wtf?

Misfile finally had Emily admit that she has romantic inclinations towards Ash, even though she can't be physically attracted to Ash while Ash is still trapped in a female body.

No Pink Ponies! Yet another lesbian attraction. This one has the decency to be unrequited (and we actually believe it in this one. Pablo above seems to have wanted the Heather-Shelley story to be unrequited, but that's not what he drew).

Get Medieval (http://get-medieval.livejournal.com/). No big plot point in this one, I just think you should be reading it.

Comment from: STrRedwolf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 21, 2007 11:18 PM

Well, you can always inquire about what we're doing at Comic Genesis and wonder what happened at the St. Louis Comic Cookout...

Comment from: Maritza Campos [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 12:11 AM

Actually, Mike didn't die a hero and that was never my intention. He made a mistake. He paid for it.

As for April, she hit the rock bottom... and Satan had very little to do with it.

But I guess that yeah, stuff's been happening ;)

Eric: Is it writer's block?

Comment from: Mike Russell [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 2:25 AM

Topics of unwritten Eric Burns posts I would love to read:

1. Alma Mater.

2. Achewood's Roast Beef marriage storyline (a.k.a. "The Great Indoor Fight") as contrasted with your own engagement experiences.

3. Lackadaisy.

Comment from: Erg [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 7:41 AM

Hey Eric. I have never commented here before, but I am a long time reader and I always thought a solution for you would be an update schedule, and a very modest one. once or twice a week. Same day/days every week. That way you don't blow your wad on topics all at once, you don't feel like you need to post as often as you did in the past, and just have a little structure. One snark a week goes along with the one chapter a week fiction writing program as a good way to get you back on track without overwhelming you. Then once Mrs. Snark is officially Mrs. Snark and living in the States you can evalaute it and change it, or not. Again, I am just some guy you've never heard of or met, but I don't think my advice is insane.

Comment from: alienpriest [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 9:49 AM

I'm afraid I am too familiar with the writing issue. It's not that you don't have anything to write about, it's that you just don't write. Why? Complacency. It happened to me: boy meets girl, boy asks girl to marry him, all is right with the world, artistic production dwindles to a trickle.

You need to be less comfortable in your world in order to produce. Who wants to escape from reality and into their art when reality includes this awesome chick who likes, no, LOVES you? Art, be it writing, or drawing or painting, thrives on discontent.

Don't get me wrong here, disrupting your relationships in the name of creativity is probably a bad idea, but it's just worth recognizing that it's going to take considerably more effort than before to sit down and start expressing yourself while your heart is in its happy place.

Comment from: CaseyG [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 3:27 PM

Yay for an update! You think we won't like it because it's about your life and how writing is hard because inspiration and focus are backordered...?

Come on, Eric, these are webcomic fans you're dealing with. ;)

And while correlation isn't causation, I'm going to take credit for spurring this post to all my friends anyway. ;)

Comment from: Hart [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 3:44 PM

Hee. "Burnsy" came about as I was feeling odd and slightly mawkish and because it sounded better than
"Ericy". Nothing else, really, just spur of the moment.


Comment from: William_G [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 7:42 PM

Eric: It's a blog on the internet. You didn't join the mob. You can walk away any time you feel like it and return any time you feel like it.

You found better and/ or more interesting things to do with your life than write about the minutiae of webcomics. By damn, go do them. And if your interests bring to you back to them in the future, great.

If not, it's been a good run.

But whatever you do, don't let the fool's gold of internet fame trick you into doing things just because "you gotta". We both know what happens when creative folks do things because "they gotta", total shite is the result.

Go, enjoy your living your life. It's far more important than the clown school that is the web.

Comment from: kirabug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 9:21 PM

It's a blog on the internet. You didn't join the mob.

Wait, what? Does this mean I have to turn in my violin case?

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 9:35 PM

No, kira, but it might explain the ending to the Sopranos.

Eric, any chance you might ask Wednesday to post something about her side of the whole engagement deal? Maybe turn it into Coming to America 2: Electric Bugaloo?

Comment from: Centurion13 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 22, 2007 11:03 PM

Well, shucks. I just finished my Spring 2007 Fiction Contest entry a couple weeks back, and I want you to know you are one of the people who inspire me (the others is Kurt Busiek and Neil Gaiman). I have been borrowing the muse heavily from 'Astro City'.

That said, I would renumerate you if you would take the time to write a bit of fluff for a BattleMech. Or two. Nothin' fawncy. But different from your usual fare, and requiring above average writing skills. The artwork supplied is, so far, stellar. I think I've seen this guy over at DeviantArt.

Check it out at: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzero5hx/TRO3062/oldomnimechs.html

Good to see you back, Eric.



Comment from: William_G [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 23, 2007 12:12 AM

Wait, what? Does this mean I have to turn in my violin case?
Of course not. The spats, on the other hand, gotta go.

Comment from: gwalla [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 23, 2007 2:59 AM

Coulda sworn I posted already. Hmm.

Anyway, I recently ran across a couple of really interesting comics, by Drew Weing and Dean Haspiel. You might want to chek 'em out.

Comment from: Tangent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 23, 2007 12:11 PM

Yo! Eric! I've got your muse right here... *dangles it* It's been quite useful for forcing myself to update 5x a week for shorter reviews (Secants), but if you really want it back, I think I've the inertia set up enough to keep going. =^-^=

More seriously... why don't you just pick one dozen comics that you enjoy the most... and scrap all the rest. Then go through ComicGenesis and other such sites and pick a dozen comics (to begin with) that look interesting and read through them. Then expand upon that. And expand further.

Get a whole new group of comics to read. Stuff that no one knows about. Stuff that are so under the radar it's sad. Similar to how Anywhere But Here (before Jason had to vanish because of RL reasons) was below the radar despite being a truly kickass comic in and of its own right.

You have the words. The problem is that you're looking at stuff and not seeing anything to say that you've not said before. So move on to something new and something different.

QC, PvP, EGS... strips like these are established. They have readers. They are successes and don't really need your help. But it's little strips like Malakhim and American Gothic and No Rest For the Wicked that are gems hiding in the sea of comics that need to be highlighted.

Robert A. Howard, Tangents Webcomic Reviews (now updating daily)

Comment from: Merus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 24, 2007 9:13 PM

Has anyone else noticed that the frequency and variety of posts has gone way down since Narbonic ended?

I'm willing to call it and say that Websnark was the world's greatest Narbonic fansite, and that it's served its purpose.

Alternatively, there's always the old journalistic stand-by of writing about why there's nothing new to write about.

Comment from: Alexandra Erin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 26, 2007 8:11 AM

Years ago, my writing mentor gave me a piece of advice that he said would be the most important I'd ever get: the secret to writing is to simply never stop...

I he was either referring to "writing" or "drinking", but anyway, I'd say a pick a topic... or no topic... and just start writing. Keep the pump primed. Or the boat afloat. Whatever. I hit a little speedbump on Star Harbor, and just just started a little random side project to keep the creative well from running dry...

...and it ended up getting about seventeen million times as many readers as the project I've packed a decade of childhood dreams and poured four years of my adult life into.

Comment from: Alexandra Erin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at June 26, 2007 8:13 AM

Eh, snit... I was so intent on putting quotes around the URL that I forgot the http://

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