Odysseus And His Two Pairs of Pants
Andy always wants me to write about things that aren’t Pop-Tarts.
I don’t know why. Thematic with our show it may not be, but the #PTQ is oddly one of our more popular segments here at Ghosts of the Stratosphere. If anything, I should write MORE articles about Pop-Tarts. Really up that output to two articles about Pop-Tarts per week! Drown out everything else on this site! Pop-Tarts of the Poptartsphere!
But sometimes you have to work within the system.
So after having taken influence from a few of our past articles in which Andy and Ethan discussed their history as writers and publishers of fine media, I thought I’d take a chance to write about my own journey as a creator.
I’ve always been a writer at heart, and I can only assume that my love of comic books created that essence of my being. My younger childhood years were spent incessantly scribbling down stories that would nowadays be described as “fan-fiction” wherein the X-Men would fight the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or some junk like that. I also enjoyed drawing fight scenes and landscapes with characters all over the place, but I’mma let you in on a secret: I’m an AWFUL artist. I’m not even an “artist” to any degree. I can’t draw worth a lick. And that’s not even someone saying that, and then I’d draw you something, and you’d say “Oh, that’s not BAD, you could grow that…”. I mean, I can’t draw at all.
But I always did enjoy writing. Most of it was just for myself, but in Elementary School, my buddy and I tried out a little “World Weekly News”-esque tabloid called “Weird World”, We only got about 3 issues in before we tapered off on that. From there, I would create a lot of comic worlds and ideas, but nothing really stuck. They were more just short features that I’d work on, get bored with, and abandon.
It was finally in high school where I did some projects for classes that I would actually show off, the first of which was a completely voluntary movie I made in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. We had read The Odyssey in ninth grade, and it stuck with me to turn the poem into a feature film… starring action figures! In the hindsight, it was TERRIBLY made and existed just to give me and my friends a reason to screw around that summer, but I LOVED it and kept the “director’s cut” VHS well into my 20’s until I lost it in one move or another. I wrote the screenplay where I condensed the epic into a more manageable hour-plus long story, and I directed my friends as they handled the toys and voiced them while I shot everything. The Odyssey! Starring Rambo as Odysseus! Side note: Odysseus “changed his pants” halfway through the movie because my old Rambo doll’s leg fell off, and I had to tape him back together. Like I said… I can’t stress how poorly made this was. My editing style can best be described as “I am lazy”, and while I cleaned it up a bit, I just left a lot of the outtakes in the final version because I thought they were hilarious. I would be beyond embarrassed if I could watch it now, but it was my treasure as a high school kid.
From there, I kept my love of writing and working behind the scenes going in my junior year English class for which we had to make a media project based on one of the classics that we had read that year. For me and my friend (the friend through whom I would meet Chad, through whom I met Andy, through whom I am part of this website!), it was a Death of a Salesman parody about our school’s obsession with its sports programs called “Death of a Football Coach”. It was… basically just a bunch of non-sequiturs because that’s my sense of humor. All I remember about it was a scene where my partner, who was on the football team, complained that it was too hot outside, so he took off every T-shirt that members of the team got one-by-one in an extended sequence. It was strikingly hilarious to us as some kind of biting commentary on the athletics program; I don’t know what to tell you. I didn’t watch it nearly as often as I watched The Odyssey: Starring Rambo, but I still enjoyed it.
While I had an affinity for media projects–and obviously still do–writing was always my favorite thing. And, unfortunately, usually my least favorite thing at the same time. It would be in my senior year of high school that I would initially come up with The Chosen (originally called “Untitled” as a dig at how the protagonists did not have code names or a lot of the trappings of the superheroes I grew up with). The Chosen would be the idea that would haunt me forever because it turns out, I am actually a pretty awful writer. I have written and deleted, and written and lost, and written and started over various stages of my characters’ lives with ridiculous frequency over the past twenty years. I have years’ worth of stories to tell in this universe, and as time passes, I just add more and more to it in a purely conceptual state. I fold old and new ideas into it and work out how it should all piece together in a story for which I currently have very little worked saved. It turns out that meandering about Pop-Tarts or wrestling or comic books is easy for me, but actually committing an updated, current version of these characters to a saved file is the hardest thing I can do. It’s a very “self-conscious” thing. With every passing year and with every new idea, it becomes even more daunting to consider actually writing stuff out that would do this universe justice.
And the worst part? The Chosen is one of TWO ideas in my head that have been there for well over a decade that I can’t get out! And that’s even worse because… which is “better”? Which is “more deserving”? You know? To write one would feel like an injustice to the other! What if I choose the wrong one? And I’m known forever as That Guy That Wrote That Shitty Story! Woe!
To this day? If I’m being honest? I can’t sleep if I don’t lie in bed and plot out ideas for one of those two stories in my head. I go to bed and immediately go into writing mode IN MY BRAIN until I fall asleep. If I wake up to pee and can’t fall right back to sleep? I start over again! And the next night, I pick up where I left off. Because writing in bed is easy. Writing while driving is easy. Writing at work… easy.
Writing when I have free time and my laptop handy? THE HARDEST THING.
Except articles about Pop-Tarts. That’s simple. Eat a Pop-Tart, and stream of consciousness that shit!
Okay that feels like a good point to cut this. Next time we reconvene to discuss my history as a writer (“writer”) and creator, I will review another, much more expansive group project I had the honor of being a part of, even if I was doing it during the most obnoxious years of my life. Next time I will present… something unique.