MF 376 : Writing series: Aaron Bossig
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Aaron Bossig joins us this week to talk about a work in progress (WIP) that was inspired by a childhood cartoon he did *not* like. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Aaron is located outside of Norman, Oklahoma, and is the host of the Hungry Trilobyte podcast, which covers all things sci-fi and pop culture. He's currently working on his first novel while juggling a busy schedule. Today, on Moving Forward, we take a peek inside an author's work-in-progress (WIP). Interestingly, while many authors are inspired by certain shows or movies, Aaron's book is based on a childhood cartoon series that he was *not* a particular fan of. Today, you'll learn more about unorthodox sources of inspiration.
Inspired by a childhood cartoon series he loved didn't care for
Many of us have a cartoon series that we remember fondly, especially if you're a Millennial or GenXer. Often, these formative shows stay with us into adulthood, leaving imprints that plant seeds of inspiration, if and when, we make that transition from consumer to creator. Aaron is a podcaster with a particular emphasis on sci-fi and pop culture. His podcast explores how fandom inspires and influences us throughout our lives. I've known Aaron for a couple of years and we follow one another on Twitter. Through occasional updates, I discovered that Aaron is working on his first novel. So, I was intrigued to hear the inspiration behind this story and share it as part of this series. I expected to hear about a show that he loved from start to finish, one he had posters of on his wall, along with a collection of toys, VHS tapes, and DVDs. I anticipated an impassioned soliloquy about Transformers, GI Joe, Voltron, Spiderman, X-Men, or something offbeat like Pinky and the Brain.
As is typical with Aaron, I discovered his inspiration is rather atypical. Instead of hearing about a show he loved, his inspiration was from a show he didn't like: Captain Planet.
When I was a teen, I remember hearing about this environmentally themed cartoon series about a superhero and a group of teens whose mission it was to save the planet. I also vaguely remember that Tom Cruise was briefly involved with the show before bowing out. Aaron wasn't aware of this bit of trivia when we spoke, and I only just now confirmed it using the Google machine.
While Captain Planet had a positive message, Aaron was less than impressed with it, seeing it as filler in between other programs he wanted to watch. The problem Aaron had was that every episode followed the same formula of a group of teens who get into trouble, call Captain Planet to save them only to fail spectacularly each time.
Frustration to spark
Over the years, Aaron would joke about the show, poking fun at the toys and merchandise. Clearly, though, something stuck with him; to the point where he recently wondered if the premise could be done better. Specifically, he was intrigued by the core concept of a group of heroic teens on a mission. Instead of remaining stuck in "eyeroll" waxing-bad-nostalgia-mode, Aaron pondered a 21st century refresh with a more "well rounded approach." Eventually, he integrated inspirational elements from a more beloved property: The Breakfast Club.
"What if Captain Planet met The Breakfast Club?" -Aaron Bossig
It starts with asking the right question
Aaron breaks down his decision to write a book based on his unusual formula; combining elements of a TV show he didn't like plus a movie he revered. From there, he spawned five characters, setting them within a Breakfast Club scenario but in today’s era of interconnectivity and mobile devices. Finally, he asked himself a simple yet powerful question that may serve as a catalyst for you to start your author journey.
Why not write the show you want to see? why not write the book you want to read? Why not tell the story you want to experience with characters you want to spend time with?
Aaron starts by waking up early in the morning, drinking a pot of coffee and writing "gibberish" onto a notepad while juggling his morning responsibilities. Much like the nostalgia of a 1990s cartoon series, Aaron goes old school with pen and paper rather than a keyboard and screen.
From the scribbles, Aaron compiles the "stuff that works" into digital notes. Aaron is a big advocate of "free writing," which is the process of writing down an idea or concept when it is at the front of your brain. It's similar to jazz, in which notes are improvised and melodies result from experimentation and accidents rather than heavy pre-planning.
"Just get it out on the page and let it be." -Aaron Bossig
I'm also a big fan of this methodology for writing first drafts: getting ideas on paper without strict adherence to form or grammar. It's important to resist the impulse to edit as you write early on. Too often, if you edit while you write, you hamper the creative process, which can slow things down. Moreover, overediting too soon can restrict your ability to move ideas around in service of a better narrative.
For Aaron, the key is to write down the ideas that comes immediately into the forefront of his brain even if it doesn't follow sequentially from the specific section or chapter he's working on. (Suzanne Brown shares a similar process with mind mapping on episode 373.)
The finish line and a promise
One of my goals with this series is for you to get a deep dive into the writing process. I firmly believe this can't be done by simply interviewing authors who have already written and published their works. If you only hear from those who have made it, it may hurt rather than help you achieve your goals. That's because it can be intimidating to only hear from those who have reached the summit before you've taken your first step. One reason I'm glad you get to hear Aaron’s journey is that he's in the trenches. He's been working on his novel for the past two years while living a full busy life. So whether you listen to this episode in real time or long after his book has been published, you're getting insights from an author during the critical work-in-progress (WIP) stage.
For Aaron, this conversation serves as a commitment to getting the book done. He's publicly announced that he's writing this book, which is a bold proclamation. However, I believe talking about a WIP can be just as beneficial as talking about a finished work. For an author, it can light an extra fire underneath them to cross the finish line. Aaron will be one of only two WIP authors featured on this series. Thus, I encourage you to pay particular attention to what he has to say as you decide whether to write your first book.
Aaron juggles a packed schedule with work and family obligations. To compensate, he gets up early at 4 am, something I've talked about on episode 360. As you've discovered with other authors on this series, writing isn't something that you always the luxury of separating from the other aspects of your life. Rather it's about finding the pockets of time, which may be hours or minutes, to write. For Aaron, it’s a conscious choice that requires sacrifice, diligence, and commitment.
"I'm a big fan of fitting creativity into the margins of your life." -Aaron Bossig
Finally, Aaron shares an important consideration before starting any project: know your end game. This story could have taken many different iterations from a screenplay to a graphic novel. For Aaron, a novel is currently the most attainable and realistic way to get this story out there, given time and resource constraints. Picking the right path to make your goal attainable will give you the encouragement to finish it and see it through.
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