So who wrote Tarzan?
You don’t know?
I’ll give you a hint. He’s the same writer who wrote A Princess of Mars.
You know, John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tharks. Yeah, you know! Disney and the director of Wall-E did a movie called John Carter, which was awesome, no matter what people may say. People. Sheesh.
So many of you know about Tarzan, if not everyone. Fewer know about Barsoom. And fewer probably know the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He’s the author who brought Tarzan to life. And really, he’s one of the reason why I became a writer.
Okay, next question.
Who wrote Darkly Dreaming Dexter?
You don’t know?
I bet you know about the hit TV show which season after season thrilled a generation. Until the last five minutes of the finale which totally killed the spirit of the wholes series. But I digress. For those of you who don’t know, Darkly Dreaming Dexter is about a serial killer who hunts other serial killers. Genius, I know. I told the author, Jeff Lindsey, I kind of hated him for coming up with such a great idea. I got to meet him and hear him speak. Great guy. He referred to himself as the avatar of self-doubt. I'm totally stealing that.
He also talked about how everyone knows Tarzan, but no one knows ERB. And everyone knows Dexter, but no one knows Jeff Lindsey. Good and bad, that.
But as Jeff Linsdey talked about the history of Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which of course had tons of rejection and had tons of “suggested” re-writes, he mentioned something that struck me.
He said the writing game isn’t about talent, and it’s not really about luck, and it’s not about networking, or any of that. He said he didn’t want to seem too precious, but he thought writers were like people under a pristine blue sky waiting to get hit by lightning.
Not sure what he meant by seeming too precious. I thought it was a great analogy.
I might have the best, the tallest, the most magnificent lightning rod in all of creation. I might be wearing steel underwear. I might have done all of my research on the best place to sit in the field of writers to improve my chance of being hit by lightning. But the fact remains—the sky is blue. A storm is not in the forecast. It’s not research, talent, or luck that’s going to get my testicles zapped.
So what is it? Why do I venture out into the field and sit under a blue sky waiting to get struck by lightning?
Because I am pulled there. Well, I’m half-pulled by my vocation, my sacred duty to write stories, and I’m half-pushed by a deep desire to succeed.
Regardless, I’m choosing to walk daily into the field and sit down, open my laptop, and write books. Lots of books. I want to be in that field. I love writing books and hanging out with authors.
Why? Because when I write, I am doing what I was made to do. Not everyone likes reading and writing. Some people adore NASCAR. That is their sacred calling. I don’t get it, but not everyone is going to get me. Which is fine.
In third grade, I read Edgar Rice Burroughs and it changed my life. Reading about John Carter meeting Dejah Thoris on an alien world electrified me (Ha, funny, get it?).
My entire life, I have wanted to be a writer. My entire life.
Why would I walk away now? Because it’s too hard? Because I’ve failed? Because I’ve been ignored?
Dudes and dudettes, the hero is supposed to fail and struggle before they succeed. I’m in the right place at the right time engaged in the right activity. I’m doing what needs to be done.
Jodi Thomas, another wonderful author, talked about those who succeed in writing are the ones who can endure the most. Which means I will succeed. Might take a bit, and success might not look like I think, but the lightning will strike me.
And if it doesn’t?
Goddammit, I’ll make my own lightning.