Updated: Feb 14
Octavia E. Butler once said, "You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it."
She then added, "That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."
Since becoming a full-time author I've had to figure out a lot of stuff beyond just how to be a better writer.
When you start out you think all you have to worry about is putting the book together, getting an editor, publishing, and finally waiting around for the fans to rush in.
Unfortunately there is way more to it than that, particularly for independent creators. And if I'm being honest I feel like I've mastered very little of it. There are promotions and ads and appearances, and more ads, and running tests to see why things didn't work the way you thought they should. And then more ads. And then more tests.
It's a business when it comes down to it, and as a business there are a lot of things you have to do and experiment with to make it work right. It's easy to get discouraged, but unless you want to give up and go back to working for someone else, you have to keep at it until something succeeds the way you need it to.
That process never ends. The great thing about it is that even though it's a lot of work, ideally you're doing something you love, so it's exciting to wake up in the morning.
You have to keep trying again and again, listening and learning and being persistent.
One of the things I'm trying currently actually plays to my strengths. I've always loved drawing every bit as much as writing. When I worked in TV I also enjoyed doing voice overs. I decided to combine them all and present something new and unique.
Or something old and retro, depending on your perspective.
Next month I'll be starting a serialized production of a new story that plays like an old radio show. It's called The Adventures of Becky Blueshift: Intergalactic Adventurer. She is a 13-year-old explorer searching the galaxy for the elements that will help her rescue her parents from being trapped between dimensions. Along with her little brother and best friend, Becky will face alien threats, tongue-monsters, and shrunken pirates fighting for gold and glory.
I wanted something classic and fun, with a 1940's retro feel, that families and kids could enjoy. The story will be broken into around 40 episodes, each 10 to 15 minutes in length. Every weekday I'll post a new episode for free, just like the radio serials of old.
Now on to the questions I've been asking myself since coming up with the idea and starting the story: Will it work? Will it inspire new readers? Will people enjoy it? Will I be wasting my time?
Those are good questions to which I have no answers.
Like I said, all of this has been about experimentation. I hope it works. I want it to work. I want to inspire readers and have families enjoy the stories. I can't know if any of that will happen until after I put it out there.
No Harry Potter; no Pennywise; no Luke Skywalker, or Wonder Woman, or Peter Pan or Elizabeth Bennet. So many fictional creations that have touched our lives that wouldn't exist if their creators hadn't taken the chance.
That's the crazy thing about all of this. Until you actually do the work and throw it into the world for everyone to see, you can't know if anyone will like it. That's art in a nutshell. You put your heart and soul into something and pray people will want to engage. If fear of rejection is too all-encompassing then the art is never created. Imagine a world where the great works of fiction didn't exist because their creators worried no one would like their art to the point they never picked up a pen.
No Harry Potter; no Pennywise; no Luke Skywalker, or Wonder Woman, or Peter Pan or Elizabeth Bennet. So many fictional creations that have touched our lives that wouldn't exist if their creators hadn't taken the chance...if they hadn't been persistent.
We're all creators when it comes down to it. Some people write books, others build houses, a few make music, and so on. Humans create. I sometimes lament that we judge each other's creations so harshly on social media and all the platforms available to us in the 21st Century, but at the same time I'm grateful, because without that I'd probably be a pretty bad writer.
In any case, this is going to be a fun project for me personally. There's something special about those old stories that always end on some cliffhanger where the main character has no way to escape, but you know they'll find a clever way to defeat their enemy in the next episode. I think that's what I love about movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark or even the original Star Wars. Both were built around these same principles of threat and triumph. Both are pretty awesome.
So here's to the creators out there who are making art despite their fears and are persisting in living their dream. If you can't find a niche then you need to create one. And if that one doesn't work you'll need to create another...and another...and another, until you find your Hobbit hole and your Frodo Baggins.
If only they bottled it. That would be awesome.
Hmmm...bottling persistence. Maybe I just found my niche...