Tag Archives: perseverance

Vonda N. McIntyre

Her Own Successes

“All her life she had made her own mistakes and her own successes, both usually by trying what others said she could not do.”

Vonda N. McIntyre, Aztecs, 1977


Requiescat in pace, Vonda. Thank you for all of the incredible worlds. (For me personally, I discovered her work through 1981’s The Entropy Effect, one of the first Star Trek novels I’d ever read—though, I wouldn’t find it until the early 90s.)

Stan Lee

Excelsior

Yesterday, we learned that Stan Lee—creator of many of the Marvel characters we all know and love—passed away at 95. Few have profoundly shaped pop culture like him, and fewer still have instilled their values into the zeitgeist. He was incomparable, and the comics world is a lesser place without him.

My own connection with Stan Lee is tenuous. I read every comic I could get my hands on as a kid, but it was never as many as I wanted. What I did read (’80s G.I. Joe, Star Trek) wasn’t usually centered around superheroes, so I don’t have the same relationship to his creations as some of my friends. But as an adult—beyond respecting the man as a creator, storyteller, and visionary—there is also something in Stan Lee’s personal history that I’ve come to admire.

Today our culture is obsessed with the idea of young success. It’s readily apparent in the tech culture where listicles of ‘Youngest Billionaires’ and profiles of the ‘Top 30-under-30’ are standard. But that worship of young success goes well beyond the technology sector. We see it in private lives, we see it in political ones, its apparent in education, religion, and entertainment. This drive for success is heaped upon the shoulders of the next generation, they’re pushed to succeed earlier and faster than their peers. That intense pressure can be both overwhelming and debilitating.


“You know, my motto is ‘Excelsior.’ That’s an old word that means ‘upward and onward to greater glory.’ It’s on the seal of the state of New York. Keep moving forward, and if it’s time to go, it’s time. Nothing lasts forever.”

—Stan Lee


Stan Lee’s own career is an antithesis of our culture’s obsession with young success. Here’s a man who started working at Timely Comics in 1939 when he was 17. But even with mild accomplishments during The Golden Age of Comics, his career languished. It wasn’t until several decades later, after having served in WW2 and after decades of toiling away in the comic’s industry that he launched the Fantastic Four with Jack Kirby. That series transformed comics, they made superheroes people, and the Fantastic Four took off. From there his career only blossomed. Spiderman. Hulk. Thor. Black Panther. Iron Man. The X-Men. Daredevil. The Avengers. Dr. Strange. The list of his creations is nearly endless.

That is what I love about Stan Lee. He was not an overnight success. His debuts weren’t a best-seller hit. But he kept doing what he loved. He fought through those his negative emotions and experiences, and he eventually made a profound impact. But it wasn’t until his forties that he became the success we know today: a man who’s creations reshaped the entertainment world as we know it. It’s important to remember that.

I admire that grit and that tenacity. I admire the willingness to stick with one’s passions—even in the darkest of days. It’s a lesson we should take to heart. Maybe with our own creative careers, we can all strive to be a little more like Stan Lee.

Rest easy, Stan. Thank you for everything. Excelsior, indeed.

Fear Never Leaves

Fear Never Leaves

Is there such a thing as post-publication depression? I mean we spend all this time working on a book losing our evenings, weekends, and holidays making sure it’s ready. Then the big day arrives, the launch happens! We’re giddy! We’re excited! The book is released! Then… silence. The book is out there. You see people buying it. You know it’s in the hands of readers. But you sit and wonder and wait and eventually fear starts creeping in.

Oddly, this is my third post on the subject of fear as it pertains to writing. (See: I’m Scared and Fear Is The Mind Killer for the others.) I say “oddly” because these are never the articles I set out to write, but somehow I still write them. Which shows how constant these emotions are in our lives. Over the last three years, with each successive launch I have taken the time to write about the tangle of emotions that swell around the launch of a book.

The greatest feeling in that knot is always the same; it’s fear. We’re afraid it’s not good enough. We’re afraid our books will be failures. We’re scared it’s full of mistakes. We worry that people will hate it. Those ideas can be debilitating. They gnaw at us, and if we let them they can devour us. But, here’s the kicker, I don’t think those feelings ever go away.

Worry comes with this job. Sure, in some magical land a writer writes a manuscript and everything is perfect, editing isn’t a bear, and reviewers laud them with praise, accolades, and candies. La de da. But that isn’t today, and it’s certainly not the world where we live. It can be tough out here. People can be mean. Some want to be mean. But, here we are. Three years ago, when I stared into that long tunnel and faced the launch of The Stars Were Right I was there. I was terrified. But I pressed on. A year later, when I set out to launch Old Broken Road, I still felt those pangs. Hell, here I am standing on the other side of Red Litten World‘s launch, and I still feel it. Those emotions are still there even three books and thousands of copies later.

“Perfect is the enemy of good.”

There is an ancient saying (Seriously, ancient, it’s attributed to Voltaire) that I like to quote, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t try to achieve perfection. Quality matters. That’s a given. What I am saying is that so often we get so stuck in the chase of perfection that we never stop. We run and run and run afraid of failure. Projects never see release because they haven’t achieved an unreachable ideal we set up in our heads. Fear fuels it, and it’s empowered by those lingering “what if” questions. Questions that bog us down, snare us, and stop our momentum.

The biggest lie in life is the idea that failure itself is permanent. I’ve seen it crush writers, artists, designers, architects, and creatives of all types. I’ve seen it destroy dreams. But… it’s a lie. Failure is a state of being, and like every other state of being, you’ll realize that it’s temporary. Once you realize its temporal nature fear begins to take a back seat. The panic becomes a white noise. The post-publication depression that hangs over our head and sabotages us begins to fade. As that happens, you become powerful.

“You’ll have more failures than successes.”

Last week, Kari-Lise was watching The Trojan War, the latest in ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30. (It’s a brilliant documentary series and I encourage more than just sports fans to watch it. A lot of great stories.) During the program, Lawrence Turman, the producer of The Graduate and American History X, had a great quote. It was something that has stuck with both Kari-Lise and me. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was something along the lines of: “you’ll have more failures than successes.”

Think about that for a moment, more failure than successes. That’s intense and yeah, it’s scary. But the trick, the thing a lot of people don’t understand, is you can’t fail unless you try, and you certainly cannot succeed until you’re willing to fail.

So, I’m scared. I feel the fear. I always do. But, now three books in, I’m realizing: that fear never leaves. It lingers, it picks, it torments. Somedays I give in, but more and more I find myself pushing past it. My reaction to it has changed. I’ve changed. The way I react is shifting. Emotionally I realize that fear is part of the process. Sure, I can still feel it moving beneath the surface. I know it wants to reach up, and (excuse the Lovecraftian imagery) grip and strangle me in its tentacles. But I push on. What else would I do? Give up? *scoffing noise* Not a chance. I want to write. I want to tell stories. I don’t ever intend on stopping.

So yeah, fear is out there. We all deal with it. But we can’t let fear stop us. Keep at it.

Now, go make great things.

Welcome back to Lovat

Friday Link Pack 10/09/2015

We’re coming to the end of Red Litten World launch week which means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

RED LITTEN WORLD:

Red Litten World Is Out Now!
You should go buy it! It’s available as an eBook from pretty much anywhere ($5.99) or trade paperback ($15) from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or my store. It’s high time you head back to Lovat. Hooray!

WRITING:

Writing Vs. Having A Life
My friend and fellow writer, William Munn looks into the idea of a work/life balance when it comes to our writing. What does it take? What should one  be willing to sacrifice. Also, as an added bonus, you should check out his serial story, Rue From Ruin.

10 Terms Coined By Ernest Hemingway
From ciao, to cojones, to the moment of truth. Here are ten modern-ish terms coined by Hemmingway himself.

Absolute Zero — The Temperature At Which Writers Give Up
Fantastic post from Kameron Hurley on perseverance, writing, and the creative life. It’s just what you, me, and any creative out there in “the struggle” needs right now. Go read it.

#WriteTip—New Struggles In Self-Publishing
Dave Farland offers up some great thoughts on the challenging (and ever changing) landscape of self-publishing and what it takes for success.

Give All Your Secrets Away
The ever badass Setsu Uzume wrote a great little post on writing what we want to write and telling the stories we want to tell and denying nothing.

RANDOM:

Scarfolk Council
Scarfolk is a fictional northern English town created by writer and designer Richard Littler. The whole thing is an amazing satirical project poking fun at themes of totalitarianism, suburban life, occultism, religion, school, childhood, racism, and sexism. Delightfully subversive and highly recommended.

A Poetic Vision Of Paris’s Crumbling Suburban High-rises
Sometimes, Paris pretends to be Lovat. Stunning pics in the Washington Post article, showing some truly amazing architecture.

Sad Topographies
The world can be a bummer of a place. From Uncertain, TX, Point No Point, WA, to Mamungkukumpurangkuntjunya Hill in South Australia (the name means “where the devil urinates” in the regional Pitjantjatjara language) this Instagram account works to collect the saddest place on earth.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Boy Scout Lane
“Boy Scout Lane, sometimes written Boyscout Lane, is an isolated road located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. A number of ghost stories and urban legends have become associated with the road, including the fictional deaths of a troop of Boy Scouts. The area has been the subject of several paranormal investigations, and has been a ‘haunt’ for youths hoping to experience a paranormal event. The land surrounding Boy Scout Lane is now privately owned and is off limits to the general public.”

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Mound
In honor of Red Litten World launching, I feel we should revisit the tale that inspired the title! In Binger, Oklahoma there is a strange mound which is, in fact, a gateway into another world.

GIF OF THE WEEK:

Quoth the raven, "c'thump c'thump, c'thump"
[Thank you Steve for sharing this. Corvids are the best.]