Last weekend I spoke at the GENRE L.A. science fiction/fantasy writer’s workshop, and boy oh boy, do I wish you could have been there! I did two panels, but more importantly connected with friends and students from across the country. One panel was on “Editing secrets of the Pros.”
On this one, I was with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, my buddies and partners, and once again was overwhelmed with how blessed I’ve been to have these giants in my life. The wisdom I’ve gleaned from them over the decades has made ALL the difference in my capacity to thrive in my chosen field…and I HAVE to thrive here, because it is about 50% of my planned outreach to change the world.
Grasp the importance of that: I don’t just write to make money. Or to express myself. Or to have fun…although all those things are important. I write to create ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, ADULT HUMAN BEINGS on the planet. That dream powers me through all obstacles.
Why do I care so much? Well, why did Niven and Pournelle help me? TO PAY IT FORWARD. What in the world do THEY have to pay forward?
The giants who came before them. Helped them. And I’m going to tell you a secret you may not know: the “Dean of Science Fiction”, arguably the most important SF writer of the 20th Century, Robert Heinlein, secretly edited their novel “The Mote In God’s Eye.” That’s right. He took a 250k manuscript, helped them cut it down to 170k, and transformed an unweildy book into an absolute classic. The one condition: THAT THEY NOT TELL ANYONE HE HAD DONE THIS WHILE HE WAS ALIVE.
So they were blessed by Robert Heinlein. And they passed that blessing to their readers, and a poor kid from the inner city. And I want to pass it to my readers, and students. And the world. I’ve been BLESSED, and in the toughest times, I try to remember that. I CHOSE THIS LIFE. Every day of it. And would rather FAIL as a writer than SUCCEED at anything else.
What motivates YOU? What do YOU want to give to the world? What is your burning passion? Take time to clarify that, so that you can always tap into it, whenever you need to. Remember “The Machine” involves committing to writing 100 stories. It is INEVITABLE that you will want to quit at some point. Anticipate those moments of depression and loss of commitment. Get ahead of them, knowing that if you have enough WHYS the “Hows” take care of themselves.
Take time, today, to clarify WHAT you want and WHY you want it. WRITE THIS OUT, like a letter to yourself, to be re-read the next time you are feeling down. You could put it behind glass with a sign: Break glass in case of emergency!!
Try it, please. And…have a great week!
Be the hero in the adventure of your lifetime!