Well. It happened. In the great cheesy film montage of my life, calendar pages are whisked off the walls in a rushing flutter to mark the passing of time. In the great MMORPG that is my existence, I just grinded away and gained another level. In the fake sci-fi based extraterrestrial religion of my very being, I just scrubbed my spirit of its soul-toxins and elevated my Omegans so that I was able to gain a new Power Tier of Self-Actualization. Ich bin 33.
It’ s likely that I’m at about the mid-point of my existence on this little blue-green marble. I mean, okay, it’s possible that with medical advances, they’ll somehow be able to prolong my life, perhaps even inserting my brain into some kind of household robot. But, for the most part, I’m going to just go ahead and assume that since my father and grandfather lived to their mid-60s, I’ve got about the same time limit. Plus, they all get prostate cancer, so I’ve got that to look forward to. My great uncle. My father. My uncle, currently (who’s doing well, he says). Our family tree is rotten with the prostate cancer.
Of course, the big question is, now what? While we can assume that this year might roughly represent the peak of the mountain as far as my years go, I don’t want to assume it’s the peak as far as my career goes, right? I’ve got some momentum building, slowly but surely. It’s now just trying to figure out how to redirect that energy like some kind of crazy Writer Tai-Chi. Do I do the Finding Agent for Sleeping Screenplay Technique? Do I do the Tiger’s Prana of Powerful Novelization? Should I allow the energy flow through me and find the Harmony of the Dragon’s Scrotum For Harnessing Game Authoring Techniques?
And this is where I panic. Decisions like this can be paralyzing. Okay, sure, on the one hand I can just be like a leaf in the stream and just let it push me where ever it’s going to push me. That works a little. If I’ve never shared with you the Chuck Wendig Plan For Making Your Dreams A Super-Cool Reality, here it is in a nutshell: if you meet the Universe half-way, the Universe will meet you in the middle. Put another way, you make your own luck. You can’t catch a butterfly if you don’t go where the butterflies fly (and the same goes for gonorrhea, by the way).
But the “leaf in the stream” approach isn’t really enough. I still have to put myself out there. Still have to catch butterflies or gonorrhea or whatever. Except, where? How? What? Who? Huh? Wha? Guh? Mmmuhhh? Nngh? And other exhortations of writerly rage, exhaustion and befuddlement?
Let’s examine the options, right? I could:
a) Get an agent. For screenplays which are finished, or novels that are finished (or ones that aren’t). Writers will recognize that the agent-hunting process is loathesome work. Not because of rejection. I can handle rejection. I even sort of like it. But because nobody can agree on the rules. Are you selling the book, or the writer? Pitch the book or pitch yourself? Have an offer, or don’t have an offer? Is it who you know, or does that not really matter? This deserves its own post, and will probably get one.
b) Write a new novel. I’ve written… I think six or seven novels, believe it or not. I think they’re probably all garbage. But it’s been a couple years now. I’ve got more lessons under my belt, and even better, I have about five solid novel ideas. Ah, but here’s the trick: the novel market is iffy. It’s driven by trends, which is why I’d rather pitch the ideas before writing them — which ideas are marketable now? Which ones are likelier to sell than others? Newsflash: I am in this gig to make money. But should I spend three-to-six solid months on a novel that might not sell, when I could be spending that time writing other things freelance? I wish I could just grab an agent — maybe take one hostage, because that’s always a good idea and usually works out well, right? — and say, “Listen, lady or dude. I have written over two million words. Mysteriously, people continue to hire me, so I’m obviously not a total tardcart, right? Take me on. Let me pitch to you. I promise, I will make you money. Now stop trying to chew through your gag–it’s duct tape, that stuff is powerful. Plus, it’ll get your teeth all sticky. I mean, ew.”
c) Write another screenplay. This one’s easier. Not because writing screenplays is easy, but it’s less time-consuming. One page = one minute, three acts, go. I can write 3-5 script pages in a day when I’m ready, and I’ve written an upwards of 16 pages in one day. So, a 90-120 page script gets done pretty fast, usually within a month’s time. Plus, revising a script is a lot more satisfying than revising a novel. You can gut whole chunks of a script and cram in a new “plug-in” part pretty swiftly — it’s like surgery without much pain. Revising a novel, not so fun. You cut out a whole chapter, and it’s feels like you cut off a leg.
d) Write an independent roleplaying game. I’ve got ideas. But… didn’t I say something about being in this gig to make money? I have to support myself. Here’s a little thing you need to know about me. Ever play The Sims or The Sims 2? You know how your little Sim dudes have various bars indicating energy levels and bladder and all that? I have an “intellectual energy” bar. I have only so much of this energy to give to projects, and once its done for the day, it’s drained. So, is it smart to put that energy into an industry that is — sorry, folks — hobbling along on a crooked stick? I love games, really. It’s a fun path. But not necessarily a lucrative one.
e) Punch self in testicles over and over and over again. It’s probably about the same as the other options. End result is equal amounts of pain, and this option takes much less time. I’m seriously considering it. Actually, if I put it on a live feed on this website, I have full confidence I could get some subscribers.
So, those are some of my options. Now, maybe I shouldn’t worry about this. Things are happening. Things in my writerly world aren’t going poorly, not at all — they’re making a slow but steady ascent. And yet… ? No surprise to anybody who knows me, but I’m not exactly Mister Patience over here. I have inherited the Impatience Gene from my father. I don’t like to wait. When it comes to writing in particular, I want to be the shark: swim forward, or drown.
Only problem is, I don’t know which direction is “forward,” and until I figure that out, it’s all too easy to drown.