04 November, 2012

Unprofessional Professionalism

You may have noticed that I recently changed "marketing" in my procession to "practicalities of success".  This is because I've already told you everything I know about marketing.  But since writers like stories, here's a story about being a writer!

"You are not a professional."

"What?  Shut up, Luke," you say.

"No, seriously.  You're not.  Before you punch me in the face, let's just clarify something:  you're an artist.  There's an arts industry, but that's everyone else's job.  Yours is the imagination."

Before lowering your fists, you ask me what the smeg I'm talking about.

"Um... see, the thing is--" I take a quick breath "--your job is just to produce good work.  If you produce fast, that's fine, but good is what you're going for.  'Make good art,' said Neil Gaiman."

"And you began this conversation with an insult?"

"I, uh... am amusingly snide."  You raise one eyebrow.  "I have fans!" I scream.  "But that's not the point.  Look, telling stories is what I'm best at, so let me try this, okay?"

Your eyebrow doesn't move.

"Right.  A story.  Let's see.... When my agent joined me!"

"You have an agent?"  You seem sceptical.

"Yes, and this one time she basically told me to shut up."

You seem less sceptical.

"See, I was yapping about all this marketing stuff.  I was telling her that I had five different ideas for a novel, and I'm equally excited about each one.  They were all different genres!  I want to write in all genres, so I asked her where I should start.  Wouldn't I have more lit-street-cred (that's how the gangsta authors refer to it... I mean, "talk like") if I start with something strait literary?  Sci-fi is taken pretty dang seriously by fans, though, so what if I lose my Science Fiction street-cred?  I was confused."

"And?"  Your eyebrow still hasn't moved.

"And she told me to shut up.  'You're thinking marketing,' she said.  'Think writing.'  Marketing is her job.  She disagreed with my woes and told me to, like Neil Gaiman says, just 'make good art'.  Gaiman even said there came a point where he was professionally answering emails and writing fiction as a hobby, so he stopped answering so many emails.  His speech (see my next post) helped me see the importance of letting myself get excited about things.  It seemed less professional--seemed I'd get less done.  But I got more done, because I wasn't wasting time feeling listless and scolding myself.  Get excited.  Enjoy it.  (Something Stephen King said to Neil Gaiman, there.)  Write whatever excites you at the time, because why you're excited is where your idea comes from.  You'll get inspired.  You'll probably find the stories you're the most excited about (or even worried about, because it's the ones you care about) will be your best ones.  Now, put down your dukes, good sir, or we'll do this the hard way.  Gangsta style."

You grin, turn into a vampyre Buffy style and take a swing.  I laugh as your fist passes through me, incorporeal.

"Your all about the imagination, see?  Like I'm using right now.  We're not really in a girl's dorm at the World University of Modelling.  And it's obvious.  Normally when people swear they don't say 'smeg', and the World University of Modelling doesn't even exist!  Don't hit me!?  Ha!  I made you up in my smegging head, and because I did it when I was excited about it, this post only took me ten minutes!"

I then kick you in the stomach (I stake you too, of course) and you fly through a bedroom wall, from which a dozen girls in the middle of a pillow fight turn gasping in awe of my manly fighting prowess.  The pillow fight continues, but with renewed vivacity and improved purpose.

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