Apologies in advance, because this post is long, and is sort of a rambling mess. It contains possible Captain America: Civil War spoilers, and it builds to a rather shamelessly self-serving point.
I started to write this Friday afternoon, then decided I ought to sit on it, and write it today, if I still felt the same way. Long story short, I still feel the same way. Short story long - skipping out on work and going to the movies Friday was the BEST decision. It unlocked all sorts of rusty creative doors in my head, and I'm currently pumped.
It's been a long time since I experienced something purely as a fan. When I read, it's in interrupted moments between writing sessions, and when I write, well...I write a lot. Not complaining! It's my dream job. But it's felt like a job the last couple of months, and in the process of not being a fan, I've lost that fan-feeling for my own work, which is dangerous. I don't like that sense of disconnect.
But I'm such an MCU fan - specifically a fangirl of the Captain America franchise - and so I decided, after two years of waiting not-so-patiently for Civil War, that I was seeing it on opening day.
A good decision.
The movie is amazing. Visually stunning. Filled with really excellent, on-point moments, and quite a view direct references to the Civil War comic - several scenes were framed at the same angles as particular comic panels, and I loved the homage. The very first scene (Siberia, 1991) had me leaning forward in my seat and hissing, "Yesssss," under my breath; and I did that multiple times, let me tell you. The final scene of the film (pre-credits) was just perfection, and I'm so thankful it didn't end the way the comic did; that we're going to get our Secret Avengers, and just...wow. Lots of wow.
There was that first post-credits scene. *sad face*
And as much as I love it, I'm one of those losers who always wants to go deeper, to keep exploring.
I hate myself for thinking "but" as I walked out of the theater. But - ha - I thought it anyway. Because in the theater, I was in fan mode. As a writer, I know that handling a giant ensemble cast of characters in two and a half hours means that screen time is precious, and that writers can't let certain fans have a greater sway over the narrative, and that this isn't my story to tell. I should be grateful for all the fabulous moments I got with my faves.
But the part of me that's pure fan? I won't lie - a little sad and disappointed to realize that what I really want is a 13-episode dark and gritty Netflix series about my very fave, where everything can be explored in perfectly-crafted detail. And I won't ever get that; I'll just be happy with what I can get. And I'll try not to be upset that his character development was literally put on ice until the universe has use of him again. Like I said, this isn't my story to tell, so I have no voice in the matter.
But I am a writer. And I do have my own stories.
And it just...clicked, on the way home. I have no control as a fan. But I have control as a writer; and as a writer, I have a responsibility to keep the story true to the characters, to do what feels natural and right...but I also have the power to expand the world of my stories. All my characters are on paper, and I don't have to dedicate a certain amount of screen time to certain people. I can chase side plots. I can take the characters who are dark, and terrifying, and so different and fresh within the universe, and I can give them their own stories.
I think I've been stuck in a funk, and I think I haven't been fair to my readers - to the ones who would walk out of a stunning movie, and think "but" the same way I did. I don't want my readers to have that little hollow hope, thinking "Wouldn't it be nice, if? But it'll never happen, I know." That isn't a nice feeling. It's a feeling that's led me to some deep reflection on my own work, and my own role as a writer, and the unfair way that some of the most interesting and captivating characters in fiction today are glossed-over in favor of mainstream mega hits.
I get it now. I'm sorry it took me seeing a movie to finally understand what I was doing to my readers.
And my announcement is this:
The next Lean Dogs Legacy book is about Fox. Followed by Albie. We're going back to London and we're meeting Devin. There's a lot going on in my writing life at the moment - including a standalone I'm putting out this fall - and I'm so excited about it, and I hope you'll be excited too.