February 2018 Newsletter
Welcome to the February 2018 Charles Soule Newsletter. As I write this, it’s February 27, so I’m getting it in by the skin of my teeth. I’m flying to Seattle tomorrow for Emerald City Comicon, too, which takes place from March 1-4, so I wanted to make sure to get this out ahead of time.
Actually, why don’t we start there?
EMERALD CITY COMICON
I’ve been doing this show for a long time, since at least 2010, back when I was promoting my very first graphic novel Strongman. Takes me back. I might actually have a little news in the somewhat near term about that project, in fact – there was a whole sequel to Strongman that wasn’t ever really released, and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to bring both the first and second books back in a way that makes sense. Something’s come up that might make all that work out really nicely – hopefully you’ll hear more about that in a newsletter to come.
But now, let’s talk about this upcoming weekend in Seattle. It’s usually the start of the convention season for me, and this year is no exception. It’s pretty non-stop from now until November, especially with the upcoming release of my novel THE ORACLE YEAR (out April 3, more information and pre-order links here!) Right now, though, I’m not burned out on doing shows, and I’m rarin’ to go. Conventions are the perfect mix of meeting fans and seeing friends from the business, and it feels like a long time since my last one (New York Comicon last October as far as Stateside shows, and Vienna Comicon in November as far as international.)
I will be at table A11 in artist’s alley, right next to my CURSE WORDS partner (in crime!) Ryan Browne at A12. We’ll be repping the book hard, as well as plenty of other things from both of us – Ryan’s bringing God Hates Astronauts, Blast Furnace and his new project Trash Bridge. I’ll have Letter 44 and a bunch of Marvel trades, from Darth Vader to Daredevil and much more. We’ve made a special poster of the wraparound cover for CURSE WORDS #12:
We’ll be giving that away with purchases of the special limited-edition Wizard Van Tour hardcover, of which we’ll have some. We’ll also have rare variants, the first and second trades, pins, and plenty of other fun Curse Words stuff.
I will also be doing a bunch of things for THE ORACLE YEAR – I’ll give away one signed copy of the book each day (the rare advance galley version, which will never be available in stores.) You can enter with purchase at the table via your email address.
I’ll have samplers of the first three chapters, too, which I’ll be giving away, and probably some of the super cool Oracle Year pins HarperCollins made up.
Plenty of panels too (Marvel, Image, etc.) – and a long half-hour interview at the Live ReedExpo podcast stage on Thursday afternoon.
I expect to be at the table most of the time all four days, unless I’m not. MY SIGNING POLICY – as I’ve been doing for the past several years, it’s three items free then $5 each after that. All CGC/graded signatures are $10, and depending on circumstances I generally charge for boxed books too (bagged/boarded with boxes cut out for signature.)
THE ORACLE YEAR
It feels like things are really ramping up in this last month before the release of the novel. More great reviews are pouring in – the New York Journal of Books called it: “a marvelous novel filled with significant twists and turns and unforgettable characters," Booklist said it’s “a dark, rollicking tale," and it looks like more to come. It was selected for a pretty huge honor that I can’t really talk about yet that bodes well, and work on the TV adaptation continues. I just can’t wait for it to get out into the world. I just got my first copies of the hardcover – so amazing. It’s all really happening!
I’ve mentioned before that I’m doing a bonus for people who pre-order the book – if you send me proof of pre-order (like an email receipt or something), I’ll mail you out a custom, handwritten prediction of the future. That’s open to the first 1,000 requests I get, and while I’ve gotten a ton, it’s still open. You can pre-order THE ORACLE YEAR at any of the links here, and details on how to claim your prediction are below.
I’m working hard on my next novel, too. Way too early to say much about it, but I have a significant chunk of it done, and I’m pretty sure it’s actually a book. I got a lot of requests after my first newsletter for more process stuff, and while I already have a topic I want to discuss for that section in this newsletter, I think it would make sense to talk through the way I approach something massive like a novel a bit down the road.
PROCESS: HOW TO WORK WHEN THERE’S TOO MUCH WORK
Based on feedback I received on last month's newsletter (available just below this one in the main "Latest News" page, along with every single post from my old Wordpress blog), it seems that people would like me to talk a bit about my writing process, which is something that didn’t really occur to me would be interesting. But I’m here for you, and I’m happy to share whatever little insights I have.
I thought I’d start off by talking about a question I get all the time at shows, interviews, almost any time I’m talking to someone about my work. Essentially, people want to know how I produce so much material, whether it’s comics, novels, etc. Ultimately, it’s mostly because I love doing it, and I always remind myself how lucky I am to have the opportunities I do. It’s hard to complain when you get to finish writing about Darth Vader and then decide whether you’re going to tackle Daredevil, Wolverine or one of your own projects next. That said, there are moments when I look at the workload I have ahead of me and take a few long, deep breaths.
February has been like that. I still have one left to finish, but when all is said and done I’ll have written nine comic scripts this month, plus a new chapter of the second novel, revisions on its first 35,000 words, taken a significant international trip (India and Sri Lanka), done lots of Oracle Year PR work and completed all the things that come along with all that – interviews, art review, revisions, meetings, etc. It’s the busiest month I’ve had in a long time, and I can definitively say, now that it’s almost over, that it was too much. It’s not a pace I can really sustain over the long term.
That said, months like this will pop up from time to time, and I have a general sense of how to approach them when they do:
1. SCHEDULE IT. Don’t let the work surprise you. As much as you can, plan how you’ll be spending every day of the month (or whatever period of time you’re dealing with until the work is done.) Assign projects to days, and hit those targets. As the month continues, and you can look back and see that you’ve achieved your goals so far, it gives you energy to power through the rest.
2. RE-SCHEDULE IT. Things will happen – as perfect and lovely as your schedule is, you might get sick, you might not have the ideas you think you will, you might have an unexpected revision or lettering draft pop up. You need to allow yourself a certain amount of flexibility within the overall schedule, and you can’t let little setbacks kill you. The schedule is a living document, and it’s possible, even likely that when you designed it you might have overreached. If that happens, forgive yourself, and see what will actually be possible given the new circumstances. The idea is to always have a sense of where you are in the work – what you’ve done, what needs to be done, and the pace you’re setting and keeping. The nice thing is that this can work both ways – it’s not always delays. Earlier this month, I set aside a whole day for writing Curse Words #13. I wrote it in four hours, which meant I had an unexpected chunk of time I could use for catching up on other things. Be flexible.
3. WORK WHEN YOU AREN’T WORKING. This is connected to the idea of always knowing where you are in the overall workflow, and being aware of the next thing. I’m a huge believer in subconscious work. You can accomplish so much when you aren’t at the keyboard. I think of this as asking myself a question – “what will Daredevil 607 be about?” “What would be the scariest, most novel thing Vader could do?” and letting my mind work on it while I’m not working on it. Often, the answers come to me when I’m doing something else, and then they’re ready when I need them.
4. LIVE. What I mean here is allowing yourself time away from the work. For me, this mainly means sticking to a regular running schedule and going to movies from time to time, and doing my best to get a decent amount of sleep and eat well (not grab-and-go snack food stuff.) This can be the hardest thing to do on the whole list, since sometimes it’s hard to step away, knowing that the deadlines aren’t getting any longer. It’s so crucial, though. You have to rest, body and soul, otherwise everything suffers – body, soul and of course, the work. It’s like lifting weights. After a certain number of repetitions, your body can’t lift the same amount anymore. Your brain is the same way. It needs time to recover.
5. WORK. No way around it. You have to buckle down, even and especially when you don’t want to. As I type this, it’s a gorgeous, sunny day out in Brooklyn. I would love to wander around, get lunch somewhere, read a book… but this just isn’t the month for it. Pushing yourself to that keyboard when you don’t want to is what separates pros from non-pros. It’s the best job in the world, but it’s still a job – and if you treat writing as a job even when it isn’t yet your job, it’s a pretty good way to hopefully ensure that it one day will be your job. (That was not a great sentence – forgive me, I’m very tired after this month. Hopefully you get the idea.)
That’s it – it’s mostly about discipline, really. If there are things you’d like me to talk about in these process notes, send me an email via the contact form.
I’ve updated the calendar with several additional appearances and more details on my autograph session at C2E2 – I’ll be all over the place this year. More to come, too – in particular, I’m working out the details for some western US store signings with Ryan Browne. Check out what’s up now, and bookmark the page if you want to stay up to date.
That’s it for now – see you next month! If you want to make sure you get these in your inbox as soon as they're up, please subscribe - there are forms to do that all over the site. Thanks for reading!