I prefer to point inquiring minds to the places I find answers – books, blogs and articles written by people with more knowledge I have on the subjects on every aspiring author’s mind. The reason I’m able to answer any questions at all is I take the time to read and learn. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have yet to learn. So why am I expected to not only learn, but try to explain what I’ve learned in super-condensed form to people interested only in shortcuts?
So, you think it would be cool to write and get paid for it, to be a famous author. But you don’t want to start at the beginning. You think it’s easier just to ask others to share their ‘secrets’. When they tell you that there aren’t any ‘secrets’ or shortcuts, that it all takes time, patience, dedication and willingness to learn, you aren’t satisfied with that answer. You move on to the next author, and the next, only to receive the same set of answers again and again. I don’t care what you think you know. You can’t get from point A to point B without covering the distance in between.
It’s the old teach-a-man-to-fish proverb. Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Tomorrow he comes asking for another fish. If I don’t have one handy, I grab my fishing pole and go catch one for him. The next day he comes back for another free meal – he knows a good thing when he sees it. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Makes more sense, right?
But what do you do when you take the man by the hand, lead him to the river, hand him a pole and even bait the godfucked hook for him and still he won’t try?
“Cast the line for me. I don’t know how. I really don’t have time to learn. You see, I’m no good with poles, and frankly I’m not terribly fond of water, either. I just want fish, so give me fish.”
Wouldn’t it be cool if life worked that way?
I’d like to be a war hero – to travel overseas and blast bad guys and earn medals for bravery. I’m a good shot – I’ve been around guns since I was a kid. Set up some tin cans and pull the trigger, that’s all there is to it. I’d make a great soldier. Basic training, you say? Oh, no thanks, that’s not for me. Boot camp is hard, and I’ve never really been the physical type. Just hand me a weapon and ship me out. I’ve got it covered.
Of course not? What advice would you give someone who said something like that to you?
Or how about this one:
I’d love to be a doctor. Maybe a specialist, like a heart surgeon. Now that’s the life. They earn big bucks and play golf all weekend. Sure, I get a little queasy at the sight of blood. I’ve never been good with that sort of thing, but that doesn’t matter – I’m inspired! I want to heal! No, I don’t know what all those little tools and machines do, nor do I want to learn. I told you, I’m no good at that stuff. Medical school, you say? Oh, no, that’s much too expensive, and it takes years. I don’t have time or money for that. I’m ready to operate now.
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be letting that butcher anywhere near my corpse.
By the same token, you can’t expect to throw crap out there and expect people to pay for it. Earning money from your writing isn’t a walk in the park. It takes hard work and dedication. You never stop learning. I know you don’t want to hear that. You just want to write, and get rich from it, right?
Don’t we all?
Writing is a career, and like any career, you get out of it what you put in. If you take a slack-ass approach, don’t expect super-stardom. Do it right, and reap the rewards.