I was a zombie the whole day - half-asleep, grumpy and flesh-eating - but when I got into a cab at around 7.44pm, I was suddenly awakened.
Whole vistas were opened to me and I harnessed the powers of:
Me: Heaven's energy!
Me: Earth's energy!
Me: Solar energy! At night!
Rejoicing in my nocturnal awakening, someone called on the phone.
After that, I went to see some of the best comedians in Malaysia.
We talked about how making people laugh is actually empathic mimicry.
Some people asked me how to write in a compelling manner. Some asked about how to be funny.
I tell them, I am neither compelling, nor funny. And I was not being humble.
It is a fact.
To write something that moves people, is to understand what moves them. That's empathy. You need to understand people, and accept them. Only then will you be able to move them.
Most people want this because they consider it a power, an ability. People usually seek to control what they are afraid of. How so, then, for those who are afraid of the dark? Of shadows?
People afraid of the perception of others will try to control the perception of others. Eventually, whether they succeed or not, they will come to resent it and their situation. Resenting your situation is unhappiness. It is a madness we all suffer from.
Anyway, control. It's actually a huge responsibility. What you write affects people on a base level. It will influence what they do with their money, time and whatever else. It is one responsibility I cannot live with.
Writing for any form of popular media simply means that you get to reach out to more people. However, this does not mean you can touch them. Two different things, if you see it.
Comedians, actors, artists - any form of performer doing any kind of expression is meant to communicate extremely complex ideas and feelings. Such as how an ideogram is basically a picture of something while the phonetic alphabet is simply representing sounds that can be put together to mean something.
Direct communication is like phonetic alphabets - it is possible to convey complex ideas and emotions and energy, but more is needed. More planning, more space. Ideograms like the Chinese script or the Japanese kanji basically has the potential for more complex communication.
There is a DC superhero I respect - the Martian Manhunter. In the Kingdom Come trade paperback, he opened his mind to the world and is forever shattered by its thoughts.
It takes more than a superhero to gain empathy, to prepare one's self to understand humanity.
And yet, if to be compelling is what you want, then this is the kind of standard you need to reach.
My writings sometimes work on a structural, form, idiom and surface level. To be compelling, you need to discover the frequency in which human emotions vibrate and resonate with it. That is much, much deeper.
This requires observation and reading.
It is possible to resonate on an unconscious level, on an accidental level.
It would be like a blind man in a nuclear reactor, pushing buttons randomly. You never know what is going to happen. You can supply enough power to light up an entire city, or you can destroy the population in a radioactive meltdown.
The true masters of their craft can see all the buttons and levers and is able to push and prod and pull according to whatever effect they want to achieve. Human thought and human emotion are their instruments.
Lots of people claim to be able to do this, but the number of people who can, in reality, is very few.
These people are usually calm and non-spiteful, selfless and true.
Why? Read The Authority, another comic book, in the story arc when a rogue Doctor tries to destroy the world. In the end, he couldn't, because he has reached complete empathy with every living thing. SPOILER!
When you are in complete harmony with humanity and with the present moment, you will have no hate nor spite. You do not even wish or covet the power.
You will be in total acceptance. Complete alignment with everything. That's the first step. Then, there is the matter of craft, and that comes with time.
There were, are and there will be people who claim to have reached whatever in their craft or life, or allow other people to think they do. It matters to them.
That is not power. That is desire. True power is when there is no desire.
In actuality, there are no levels for people - only for craft. Even then, it is flawed and subjective. You think Neil Gaiman (chaos be upon him) can't write anything bad? American Gods suck ass.
The comedians agree with me on these points. We talked about the work of Chris Rock and how he said in an interview that "People laugh about the same things the world over."
I gave up on people understanding me or to understand people. My goal is not to be funny or compelling. I tell my stories, and it is up to you to push your own buttons. You may agree, disagree, swear, curse, judge, be affected or not. The responsibility is yours, not mine.
I do not want to be responsible for your life. That's too much. Just too much.
My work only functions on a structural, idiomatic and surface level. Everything else, is your own conjecture.