Mark Terry

Friday, October 17, 2008

Optimism

October 17, 2008
Erica Orloff has an excellent post on optimism today. Go read it if you haven't already.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've been skimming through a book I read five or six years ago by Michael A. Banks called "How to become a fulltime Freelance Writer." In fact, this is the first thing I re-read in it. I will say that I could have been writing it myself, except I never argued I was a pessimist, but more a realist of the "hope for the best but expect the worst" sort, but in fact, I think in recent years I have been thinking that with faith and luck and hard work things tend to work out. Anyway, here's Michael's comments on the subject:

"You have to keep a good attitude to write for a living. How do you regard you writing ability, your marketing acumen, and your prospects for the future?

You have to be an optimist--and radiate that even when you feel pessimistic for a moment or two, as we all do from now and then. You must know and communicate to others that you are good enough to sell your work, that the markets will continue to support you, that you're flexible enough to take on almost any kind of writing project. Yes, the writing business has a lot of ups and downs, for writers and publishers alike. And it's full of pessimists. But the optimists do better; they get more work, deliver it faster, and bounce back faster from occasional setbacks.

Until I started writing for a living, I thought I was a pessimist. But now I know different: Without my deep-seated, ultimately cheery optimism, I'd never have made it for one year--much less 20! Late checks, impossible deadlines, cancelled contracts and columns... all of these and more could have easily run my career right into a dead-end.

But besides being a full-time writer, I'm a full-time optimist. Even when I complain about the second edition of my best-selling book being delayed, and the IRS threatens to grab things in an unpleasant fashion just because of some paperwork gone astray, I'm planning what I'll write next to make up for it all.

You'll have to be an optimist, too. Otherwise, even though you're delighted to be your own boss, you'll start to feel the effects of the lack of guaranteed income, schedule, and the rest. If you are an optimistic freelance writer, however, the world's your oyster. There are many ways to succeed, and you know you can fine one or more paths that will be right for you."

Amen, Michael.

And a point I'd like to make to long-time readers of this blog who say, "Mark's always talking about how tough this business is and how he's always threatening to give up writing fiction. What a hypocrite!"

Hmmmm. Perhaps. I don't view writing, particularly the wonderful and wacky world of fiction writing, as a particularly rosy place to be. It's a damned brutal business and its roadsides are littered with the corpses of the literary careers of far more talented writers than myself.

But I keep writing. I keep submitting. Ultimately, I'm optimistic that my talent, my skill, my hard work are going to coincide with the right time and the right place--as good a definition of luck as any. And if not, well, hopefully I had a lot of fun on the journey.

Cheers,
Mark Terry

4 Comments:

Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Hi Mark:
Yes. You know, when you said on my blog that you were going to post on optimism, I wondered. But you are right/he is right. to continue doing it and submitting in the face of long odds . . . well, what else can it be? A combination of optimisim and insanity.
E

10:38 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I know, sometimes it surprises me, too.

But...

Whenever I get down about writing, particularly if some client fades away or something doesn't work out, I invariably say to myself, "Well, something will come along. It always does."

And in fact, I would argue that in most cases, whatever comes along has been better (for whatever reason) than what I had going on before.

Leanne used to joke that I was one of those people who could fall in a septic tank and come up smelling like a rose. There may be some truth to that.

10:47 AM  
Blogger spyscribbler said...

"I'm planning what I'll write next to make up for it all."

Ohmigosh, that is SO me! My first thought after every problem is who can I write for next and what should I write? LOL!

When I'm in that septic tank, I never believe things will come along. But they always do. I don't know how or why, but they do. It's a mystery. Or a miracle.

12:04 PM  
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6:05 PM  

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