Give it a Shot

First off, my photos from Comic-Con collected and presented by way of a sort of “my dog ate my homework” for Friday’s lack of post and Wednesday’s dearth of content.

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

And now, to business.

Comic-Con illustrated several things to me. I came to realize that geeks are at once the most cynical and most hopeful of people. This was most clearly demonstrated to me during the Heroes panel I visited. The show is, let’s be honest, not what it once was. Last season was largely frustrating due to glimpses of brilliance amid a sea of confusion, and ratings were dropping and fans were getting twitchy. But these same fans went absolutely nuts for the season 4 previews we were given… myself included.

It also proved to be a somewhat magical weekend for one Oliver Grigsby.

I’ve been pimping Ollie’s recent work for web-giant Penny-Arcade around on Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed, but I don’t think I covered it much here. Penny-Arcade is the kind of phenomenon that is hard to explain to people who are not geeks and do not read webcomics. If web sites were movie stars, Penny-Arcade would be Johnny Depp. At the mere mention of URL in the newspost on their site, they can destroy webservers. To illustrate this, when Ollie’s site was mentioned on Penny-Arcade’s site in conjunction with announcing his stint as guest-author for a 4-comic arc (first guest author ever in 10 years of the site, by the way) he received 50,000 unique site hits in the span of 48 hours. Penny-Arcade can make or break a reputation in the geek world, as fans set their watch and warrant by the opinions of its creators. The site has made Ollie’s reputation.

So am I just here to go on and on about my best friend? There is a point. This all came about because Ollie took a shot in the dark.

He wrote a query.

Covering the best way to write and format a query is a matter for another time, but what’s important here is that Ollie went ahead and wrote one. Penny-Arcade is huge. This would be like walking up to Spielberg and telling him you’d like to take a shot at directing a few scenes in his next epic… and then he walks you over to a chair, sits down and says he’d love to hear what you have to say.

Writers everywhere stymie themselves. They say that a project is too big or they’re not good enough or that too many other people will be applying and they just do nothing. You’ve got to play to win, though. If you have an idea and you want to go for it, there’s no reason not to throw it out there and see if someone else likes it as well. The worst that will happen is they say “No, thanks.”

Everyone assumes rejection is for amateurs and it happens because they’re not good enough. Ask a professional screenwriter, though. If they’ve made five movies, they have 25 more that got show down out of hand. Sure, it’s possible that talent is what separates you from them, but the key difference is that they put all 30 of those scripts out there.

So when you see a contest that you think you could win or a job you think you’d be great for or if you have an idea that you think someone could really benefit from—write it. Send it in. Pitch it. At worst, things stay as they are. At best…

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