Monday, November 9, 2015

The Next BIG Thing

"A hero knows it takes hard work and a long time to get published; a fool thinks it should happen immediately, because he thinks he's a hero already.

A hero learns the craft; a fool doesn't think there's much to learn.

A hero keeps growing all his writing life; a fool thinks he's fully grown already.

A hero fights to make his writing worthy, even when no one's noticing; a fool demands to be noticed all the time, even if his writing stinks.

A hero is persistent and a professional; a fool is insistent and annoying.

A hero gets knocked down and quietly regroups to write again; a fool gets knocked down and whines about it ever after.

A hero makes his luck; a fool cries about how unlucky he is.

A hero recognizes the worth in others; a fool can't believe others are worth more than he.

A hero keeps writing, no matter what, knowing effort is its own reward; a fool eventually quits and complains that the world is unfair.

Be a hero." -James Scott Bell, The Art of War for Writers
Gilmore Girls

NaNoWriMo is upon us. For many that means plucking away with a group of like-minded individuals, in whatever space of time we can manage to free up to hit that 50,000 word goal. Many published novels have come from NaNo origins. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for one. I don't know about you, but when I go into NaNo, I wonder just what I'll write. I'm not a plotter, so most of the writing I do during NaNo is pantsing. I enjoy envisioning a character and letting the words fly. Is it harder to clean up the words afterward? Sometimes. But at least the words are down.

Recently, I've heard a lot of discouraging chatter from one of my writers groups. Some wonder how the effort will ever be worth it if they don't come out the next big thing. THE NEXT BIG THING. They want to be the next JK Rowling, the next Stephenie Meyer, the next Stephen King. That's the only goal that they can see.

They won't be The Next Big Thing. I won't be The Next Big Thing.

Okay, never say never. They could. I could. It's always a possibility. The problem with their kind of thinking is that it's discouraging. Big Things happen because they were at the right place in the market at the right time in the market with the right agent and editor. Do you realize how many stars have to align for something like that to happen?
Lindsey Stirling, Stars Align

My son is nine years old, and the oldest. He was born 5 weeks early and was only 3lbs 3oz. I had to have an emergency c-section because I would have contractions and sleep through them, but his heart rate would drop from 160 to 90 every time. We were blessed. He didn't have any health problems other than needing a feeding tube for several weeks. He is small. He will be small until that one growth spurt hits and he shoots up to the stars. The other day I caught him and his 6-year-old sister trying to see who was taller with the help of their 5-year-old sister.

The inevitable happened. His sister has grown taller than he is. We knew this would happen. His pediatrician informed us the first time he saw our 3lb bundle of joy. Preemies struggle to catch up sometimes and one day he will shoot up. The Dr. has seen it happen a million times. Both of his sister's were born at 6 lbs 13 oz and 6lbs 8oz. They had a better chance of being bigger faster than he did. My son was upset. Why is his sister taller than he is? Why is she stronger than he is? I sat him down. I asked him what he thought the world would be like if everyone were the same height and strength? He said everyone would be like daddy. I asked him what he could do that his sister couldn't. He told me that he could build portals in Minecraft (yes, our world currently revolves around Minecraft).

So, I put things in Minecraft terms. I asked him,  "What if no one could build portals? What if they could only build houses?"

He thought on this for a few minutes. I don't know the importance of portals in Minecraft, I've never played, but this seemed to be a big deal to him. He replied, "That would be boring. No one would be able to create anything."

I told him to continue to be a creator. Height and strength would come later, but creativity could never be replaced. He's since taken to drawing and creating more things on Minecraft. Apparently kissing cats creates babies. Who knew.

There will never be another writer like you. Stop trying to be The Next Big Thing. Focus on your writing, your style. Read what you love, write what you love and do your best to learn and grow. Learn from those authors you adore. Cultivate a career. Suzanne Collins had published the Underland Chronicles before The Hunger Games came out. Not every book your write is going to be a Big Thing. But every book you write could be a career. Continue to write because every time you do, your skills improve.

Be a squire struggling to prove himself a knight.
Heath Ledger, A Knight's Tale
Run with velociraptors.
Jurassic World

Be a hobbit struggling to make their way to Mount Doom. Be you. No one will ever know the formula for a Big Thing. No one can predict what will take off and earn millions. It isn't possible. But you can focus your energy on writing the best novel you possibly can. And who knows. Maybe the stars will align.
Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings


  1. So much wisdom in this post! Thank you for a timely reminder. :)

  2. Great post, Niki! Wouldn't it be great if we could ALL be the next big thing?

    ~ Olivia J. Herrell