5.14.2008

Born of Fail
It happens. You put down hard hours, burn some brain cells, neglect your family, and then finally finish the project, knowing that it rocks on toast. 

Then you get the call. The publishing schedule has changed. We'll try to use your work in the future, in one or two permutations, but we can't promise anything until the schedule settles down. You get paid on publication, so sit tight. 

I've been on both sides now, making  the calls to rightfully PO'd authors, and I've also had my own projects sidelined by factors outside of a publisher's control. But when you're selling work for hire, it comes with the territory. If you can't accept that, it's probably not the right profession.

Again, it happens. To *all* writers. Handle yourself in a professional manner, and you'll be around for more projects in the future. (And yes, occasionally some of those will be delayed ... and so on.)

Then of course, sometimes there is a lightning storm. The past few months multiple Stroh projects, through multiple publishers, have been drafted into service or canceled, or whatever. But as long as I accept the paychecks, I forgo my right to complain.

A couple nights ago, another hammer came down, and another project was caught between it and the publishing anvil. It was a cool one too, one my rare ideas that was actually kinda sweet. But Gen Con is 91 days and 14 hours away, and Harley's Cool Idea (tm) was just a little too much to send into production. 

You fail, thank you, try again.  

So for the past 48 hours I've been wracking the ol' gray matter, trying to come with another idea that was:
  • Executable in time for Indy;
  • Cool enough to merit your hard earned dollars.     
And for 48 hours I've been staring at the cover art for a non-existent product, wondering just what the heck I was going to do to fill the pages inside a pretty smoking cover.

Then, searching for presents for upcoming Saurus Celebration I came across a 3 word combo, highlighted in someone's random page. 

And it was cool. And executable. And it made my old project look lame. 

While I am not, by any means, a good author, I think that this process helps to illustrate attributes that a good author should possess: Persistence, humility and the willingness to find your ideas anywhere. Another author could have come across those same 3 words and not been inspired. Another author could have found inspiration in dozens of other worlds, earlier, and already have 30k down in ink. Another author could have had multiple projects delayed, and said, "Screw it, this industry is BS, I'm out."

But no one of my works is my magnum opus. If you know Harley, you know he's always convinced that his next project is going to be really sweet, and he's sorry that the one he just finished sucked so bad. Hopefully, as long as I keep breathing this will always be the case. It's an act of faith that, yes, you will come up with a better idea. And it's a case of loving your collective contribution more than any one work. And it's about sticking to it, no matter if you're a n00b or a vet, because, if you can't prove it with the next sentence you write, what good is it?

My collection of works is static. It's dead. Finished. My future works are still gestating. They're exciting, unformed and growing, each with its own small shot at perfection. I'm still in love with them and their potential. And when the current batch goes to print (sometime between now and Gen Con) they'll have finished out their lives as ideas, dying when ink hits paper. By the time you pick them up they'll be static.

But that's all right. I'll have moved on to new loves. And so on, until *my* life becomes static, finished, and goes to print. 

//H

8 Comments:

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Jeff LaSala said...

Every time I read a Harley Stroh post, I want to wave a flag of defiance and triumph on a barricade somewhere, like in Les Misérables.

And then I want to start referring to myself in the third person.

 
At 3:52 PM, Blogger Grimbones said...

:) Get healthy, already. We need you alive for Gen Con.

//H

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Blackdirge said...

This is why you start your own PDF company and become the sole creative force behind it. Trust me, know one cancels or puts my projects on hold over at Blackdirge Publishing. =]

BD

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harley's next project is always sweet.
teknob

 
At 9:46 PM, Blogger saurus said...

he's building a sugar refinery?

 
At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Cassandra said...

We did start our own PDF company, and sometime projects still get put on hold. Of course, there's no "sole creative force," which could be part of our problem. Too many ideas, too little time!

 
At 8:02 PM, Blogger Blackdirge said...

Cassandra, you know, sometimes we "sole creative forces" have more ideas that we can possibly put in print...or should put in print. =]

I mean, for some reason, my artists refused to do the illustrations for Blackdyrge's Boudoir.

BD

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Mike said...

At this point, I always consider anything I write that has a shot at being published as having two lives. The first is going from the blank page to the submitted manuscript. The second is going from the manuscript to the printed piece.

All I can truly control - unless (as Blackdirge does) I self-publish - is the first life. So I try to make that one grand, and as close to greatness as I can.

The second ... well, that one's not always in my control. Signing the contract more-or-less means it's no longer entirely your baby. I may not always be happy about how that second life turns out, but them's the breaks. I'll admit that I'm not always happy with how they go, but they don't concern me as much anymore.

As you said ... how you handle your current projects affect your chances at future projects. That's usually what concerns me.

Post more often, sir. We like hearing from you. :)

 

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