Friday, January 21, 2011

Thomas Mann is the Man. And So Is The Egypt Sissie.

"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." --Thomas Mann

Dear Thomas Mann: Thank you for that. And now could you please explain why?
I spend a lot of time worrying about writing - especially while I'm in the process. I'd like to cut it out, because I think it is not only slowing me down, but messing me up. Interfering with what I could be getting down on paper without that fear. Plus, it makes me really exhausting to live with (can you say "needy"?)

I'm not exactly sure how Maegan's pal Fangxiety got into my mix, but he's been there a lot since I became an adult; telling me that what I'm doing isn't good enough. Maybe no one will like it, blah, blah. Oddly, I never worried about that as a kid. It was all about drawing feelings and experiences out of my soul and creating a common meeting ground for other souls. (Translated into Kidspeak: It rocked.) Creating shouldn't be constraining. It should be freeing.

When I was ten years old I moved to Germany, leaving my best friend in Maryland. Her dad was also in the Air Force so it wasn't very long before they'd moved to Iceland. We kept in touch, faithfully, through the mail. And that was saying something, because back then it took anywhere from two weeks to a month and a half to receive a letter.

My friend loved writing too, and had a great talent for it. One of the things she got us doing was writing episodic adventures together. We'd send each other the next chapter until the adventure ended. It started with a comic strip series (illustrated rather goofily by me and beautifully by her--but hey, it was fun) called "The Team." Our main characters were Ropegirl and Flashgirl, and their arch-nemesis was the Egypt Sissy.

Arch-nemesis, in disguise and inexplicably without a nose.
Un-masked . . . AND HIDING A ROPE! (Someone please tell him who he is.)
This was followed in short order by an epic science fiction adventure entitled "Phoebus". Our main characters? Princess Janilene, Captain Capricia, and Capricia's twin, Captain Starbuck, of the Phoebus Protection Force. And there was a boatload of plot rip-off from the old Battlestar Galactica series and Star Wars. But it was a blast! Both of these writing ventures were. Neither of us was worried about what the world thought or what we were writing. We just did it, excited to see where the story went, and where we could take it next.

Our Heros, with hands and feet cleverly hidden by sinister mist.
Four years later hands and feet come out of hiding. Captain Capricia's face is sliding off her fat head, and Janilene is Queen of the Mer-People, but there is improvement!
I'd like to get back to that kind of unfettered enjoyment. And not just in writing; in everything. The world is not going to end if we try something and it fails. Or we try something and it isn't quite as gorgeously gilded as we imagined. Or if we try something and we're the only person who cares about it. Just rack it up to experience, enjoy the moment, and try the next thing.

So that's my goal: Smack Fangxiety over the head with the Who-Cares-This-Is-A-Blast-And-I-Want-To-Share-It-With-You stick, and move on ahead. If nothing else I'll have added positive energy to the world, and heaven knows we need some of that.

Here's to dumping the drama and embracing the fun in the new year. And also to going back and watching the old science-fiction shows that inspired my pal and me. Harrison Ford and Dirk Benedict were hot.


Maegan Langer said...

Oh yeah, Harrison Ford and I go waaaay back. Smack Fangxiety for me too, will ya?

Janiel Miller said...

Yep, if you'll beat up Darkspume for me.
And btw, Mark Harmon was prettyfaced back in the day too.

Russo said...

Oh, my goodness, I am so glad I could the pics of your work. I've heard you talk about these characters in the past and I loved seeing your hard work.

I also loved "as all about drawing feelings and experiences out of my soul and creating a common meeting ground for other souls." Lovely!

Sara B. Larson said...

That's really neat that you had a friend like that, and to have kept all those letters! Loved all the drawings. ;)

scott.densley said...

Ropegirl sounds like my kind woman.

Janiel Miller said...

@Scott: Hahahahaha! Well let me tell you about her: She's a superhero who can fly and grow her hair really long (hence: Ropegirl). She can also control it and can capture evil nemeses with it. It knows Karate.

FYI, Flashgirl has super speed, can fly, and can see uber-far like the Bionic Man.

There you go, dude.

Ari2525 said...

Do you still keep in touch with your friend? The one that you wrote the series with, I mean. I rarely keep in contact with anyone from my past, I wish I did thought, so i was just curious with you.

densleybrandis said...

Forget Rope girl Scott I wanna know what happened to Egypt SWissy.

Janiel Miller said...

Ari: we did keep in touch. We actually ended up both moving here and were able to still hang out and do things. Then she moved again. She's done a great job of staying in touch. Right now I owe her many letters, but I am writing to her tomorrow. She'll probably faint.

Friends are a precious commodity when you move every 2-3 years. You stay in touch with the kindred spirits. (Again, I've been sort of pathetic lately. Hoping she'll forgive me. She's pretty cool.)

Janiel Miller said...

Right, DensleyBrandis, Egypt Sissy: He was eventually captured by The Team, through a combination of speed, cunning, and a ridiculously long pony tail. He did time in Leavenworth, but tunneled to freedom using the little gold python on his head piece (he's a patient evil guy). He would have made a clean break of it, if it hadn't been for his mortal fear of women in striped capes and '70's haircuts. He was recaptured, cowering in the fetal position in front of a '70's retro-bar (remember: he's a sissy). He's now locked up in an undisclosed location. Without his little snakey-hat.

jjsundevil said...

Janiel I snorted at egypt sissy in a 70s retro bar; as russo would say freaking funny stuff.

Janiel Miller said...

James, if I have made you snort like Russo my work here is done.

And btw, I've got a ferosh arm-piece here looking for a wrist . . .