Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Power of Ridiculous

The whole notion of making it as a writer, or any kind of artist, is ridiculous.

Look at the stats. Unless you know someone or meet a person at a conference,literary agents reject nearly 99% of all queries. (The number is actually higher than that) You may have written a perfectly good manuscript with a great hook after years of working on your craft. You send it out, hoping to draw interest, and... crickets.

The publishing industry is somewhat in chaos now, what with the advent of self-publishing. Some of these books are really good. Michael Sullivan got a deal based on his sales, and Hugh Howey got a seven figure deal that protected his digital rights, which is completely absurd.

More, writers are finding that they can earn a decent living by simply developing their brand, being prolific, and publishing their own work, which allows them a MUCH larger percentage of dollars from their books.

All of this is true, but a writer, an artist, must still be... ridiculous. They must believe in their work when no one else does. they must believe they're getting better even when it feels like they aren't. They must believe they have important things to say even when their family members or friends think such notions are silly or stupid or egotistical.

But the writer isn't wrong. They MUST be ridiculous to be successful. This is true of all dreamers. (Dreamers come in different categories, but the one truth that unites all of us is that at one time many people told us to stop. Told us that we weren't good enough. Told us that our dreams were foolish.) Whatever quirks we may possess (and we tend to have a lot of them. When my wife puts her cell phone down, I immediately move it to its "Spot" on the shelf by the kitchen.), the attitude of "whatever" needs to be dominant.

If you listen to successful actors and actresses, they often sound extremely vain, and their explanations for their success is simplistic. Of course it is. "Making it," in anything, but particularly the arts, requires luck.

Now, we artists don't like to talk about it much, because its out of our control, but it's always there. Hitting the agent at the right moment. Getting the editor who is looking for a book with your themes. Hell, they have stats that show people being prosecuted are as affected by the time they face the judge (just before lunch, late in the day) that matter as nearly as much as the evidence against them.

It is completely ridiculous (and arrogant) to assume that the world needs to hear what you're saying. But if you don't have this attitude, you'll never make it. Those stars I mentioned earlier? Most of them faced rejection over and over. Being RIDICULOUS allowed them to get through their failed auditions and helped them forge ahead.

All dreamers need to understand this. And if you develop a few quirks, a few neuroses, along the way, don't worry about it.

They're necessary.

Now get back to your dream and get to work.The world NEEDS to hear you.

Everything else is nonsense.

Even if you're being ridiculous.