Proof of Concept

It’s not terribly likely that there are people reading this that are not connected to me personally, or via Facebook, Friendfeed or Twitter. On the off chance that there are, though (hello!), I’ll take things from the start.

I recently had a piece of fiction accepted for publication on the McSweeney’s website. McSweeney’s, brainchild of author Dave Eggers, was created to highlight fiction from new and upcoming hopeful writers. It is for this reason that the site does not publish any material that has itself been published elsewhere. The sharp-eyed among you will notice a post has vanished from my archives. Turns out that having a blog that about 20 people read counts as publishing. Truly we live in an age of wonders!

I mention this only slightly to toot my own horn. I mention this mostly as proof of concept. I wrote, weeks back, about Oliver Grigsby’s venture with Penny Arcade. Ollie is an up-and-coming screenwriter, but that fact has come about after years of paying his dues as a flunkie in the television industry. What may prove to have been his breakout venture with Penny Arcade, who have it made it a sort of accidental hobby of theirs to make and break careers, came about strictly because Ollie said “What the hell?” and tried submitting something to Penny Arcade. I don’t think he ever really expected to get a response.

The exact same thing happened with me. I had written a post, wasn’t sold on its quality, was convinced by my wife it was good enough, and then posted it to the blog. To date, it’s been the only piece of fiction for the blog that I think fits McSweeney’s standards and format. I figured, as Ollie, “What the hell?” and never expected to get a response. Five days later, the piece had been accepted. Believe me when I say it can be done. If you are confident in your work and feel it is worth sharing, find an outlet to share it. If you can find an outlet that will also help increase some of your visibility, then go for it. The worst that happens is that they don’t take it and then you’re free to take it anywhere else you choose.

I’m also going to call focus back to a recent post regarding scheduling and the viability of creative content creation on a tight schedule. The piece I sent over to McSweeney’s is something I crafted in under three hours. I pondered and prepped on and off throughout the days before I was writing, but that was all mental work. The only headstart I had when I sat down to write was that I had brainstormed. Then I tackled it in two hour long sessions over two nights and spent about 30 to 45 minutes proofing and editing.

The last point I want to make before closing, as I don’t want this to be the world’s longest thinly veiled “Hey, I did something cool”, is that the lesson I intend to take away from this success is not that I’m The Man. But I think it will be easier for me now to shout down the little nagging doubts that always tell me that what I make isn’t that great. Those fears are what I think are the chief cause of writer’s block. It’s less that you don’t know what to write, and more that your mind isn’t lending you the confidence to write whatever you think of.  These thoughts are normal, pretty common, and totally counterproductive. You’re only at your best when you allow yourself to be, and you get there by believing that it’s as acceptable to reach for something and fail as it is to reach for something and achieve it.

  1. #1 by Tina on September 1, 2009 - 8:12 AM

    Well, you are allowed to say you did something cool. Congratulations! I’ll go check it out tonight.
    Thanks for the affermation. It is a leason everyone needs to learn, sometimes relearn. Even non-writers.

  2. #2 by Vicky on December 13, 2009 - 9:08 PM

    See by chance someone does come along and thru threads came by and read your blog. Keep up the good work and continue to believe in yourself, only you can make things happen…Good Luck!

    Just a passerby…

(will not be published)