Apr 05 2010

Gettin’ Serious

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I’ve mentioned (here and elsewhere) that with the wrapping up of Suburban Jungle, one of the things I intended to take on was “getting serious” about my writing … and indeed, the recent revamp of gneech.com was part of that. But among other things, getting serious is also going to need to include a pretty drastic inversion of the way I even think about my writing.

For the most part, over the course of my life, I’ve written what I felt like writing and then looked for people I thought would be interested in it. This works to a certain extent and is perfectly suitable for writing-as-hobby. Certainly it worked for Suburban Jungle, which I always looked at as a labor of love and assumed would never “make it big.” Very valuable as a learning experience, but something of a 10-year-detour from a professional point of view.

But to start getting somewhere as an actual, y’know, paid writer, I’m going to have to flip that model around: I need to find things that people want written and are willing to pay for it, that also match (or at least closely overlap) my skillset. I mean, I could probably pull down six figures a year writing proposals for government contractors, but I would hate my life.

This is going to be a whole new set of skills for me to learn, watching markets and keeping an eye peeled for opportunities. But hopefully, it’ll also open up a lot of nifty new experiences. For instance, in response to my recent bemoaning the lack of pulps, Phil Brucato recommended Steampunk Tales, which until then I had never even heard of. That led to: “Steampunk? Me? Hmm … I might just be able to come up with something there…” I probably would never have thought of trying to write steampunk if I was just noodling around with story ideas — but upon being told “here are people looking for steampunk stories,” my brain started coming up with interesting notions and it wouldn’t at all surprise me if I toss something at Steampunk Tales in the next couple of months.

At lunch today, I bought myself a new dry-erase board to mount in the studio, next to my computer. On it I intend to write lists of things like target markets (ranging from ‘zines to guest blog spots to The New Yorker), project due dates, topics to research … anything that I want to keep Up Front and Visible in order to stay focused on it. I have until now been scribbling such things into notebooks or word processing files, which leads to them being out of sight and out of mind. Woody Allen once said that 80% of success was just showing up — and as a corollary to that I’d add that in order to show up, you have to remember that you’ve got someplace to be!

-The Gneech

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