I am sad that I’ve finally caught up with Girl Genius.
I’ve been racing through it over the past week. Which means I’ve been spending more time reading it than doing the things I should be doing–writing, getting ready for the fall semester, and so on.
But it was like reading a good novel: you just couldn’t put it down. Or close the browser. And yesterday I finally reached the comic that was posted on Monday.
This morning I read Wednesday’s comic. It’s going to be a very different experience, reading it one page at a time, three times a week. For one thing, it made me realize part of the reason I couldn’t stop reading it when I was catching up for several years: although, like a novel, it is a unified whole (although I think I can see the moments where the story evolved for the authors, where they threw things in and tied other things together), the fact that it’s being posted page by page makes it very episodic: the end of every page is a mini-cliffhanger, or mini-resolution.
For another, the experience of really sinking in to something, inhabiting the breath of a story, is something nourishing. I guess I’m referring to this experience when I say that Girl Genius feels novelistic. It’s not something you can get from one page MWF, or from short stories. You need the breadth and depth offered by longer forms, something that gives you space to really live in it, alongside the characters who inhabit that space.
When I complained to Keith about how much time this comic was wasting, he half-seriously asked if there was any way I could justify reading it, make it a part of the work I was procrastinating. “This helps my work because X.” The short term answer was no. No, this is NOT helping me write my literary short story about skunks.
But the long term answer, I think, is yes. The ideas and inspiration behind the story; the characters, the world, the plots, the various storylines pulling apart and coming back together and weaving in all sorts of ways–yes, I think it can be justified.
Any novel, anything you read as a writer feeds you. Even if it feeds you garbage. (So maybe reading a bad novel is worse than reading a bad short story?) But a good story, well-told, sinks into your bones, makes the world in which you write a bigger place.
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