Thursday, May 29, 2014

Surprising Progress

I'm shocked at how much we at Beyond the Trope have been able to do in the last four months. Sure, we're not building an empire or even serving two or three hundred listeners (our numbers appear low, though there may be some things keeping us from seeing all of the numbers), but we'er doing stuff. Yes, that's vague. But there is STUFF happening! Rather than just sitting around, making up topics, and then recording them, we're putting together content, reaching out to authors, and getting ourselves out in the world.

As some people may know, we're going to be at Denver Comic Con this year. This is a big deal because, if for no other reason, than I almost decided not to bother signing up for a place at Podcast Peak. Why? Because we're too new. We only had three episodes released when I filled out the application. I ASSUMED the would turn us down, and ALMOST followed that assumption to it's foregone conclusion. Then something nagged at me in the back of my mind. I figured, the worst that would happen is they'll say "No" this year, giving us a year to get ourselves some "credibility," and we could try again next year. All I would lose is the five minutes it took to sign up.

Yeah. They liked our first episode (Literature in the Classroom), and whatever else led them to offer us a table isn't as relevant as the fact that THEY GAVE US A TABLE! We get to record at Denver Comic Con! And that's surprising to me.

There's so much that surprises me these days, and so many things that have remained the same (like the state of my career). It's been distracting. I don't know where the future will take me, but I'm going to embrace this progress and push for something greater than what I'm doing today.

I don't know where the podcast is going. I'm getting ready to investigate what it would take to turn it into a business, what the options are for monetizing, and how that would affect the three of us.

I'm embracing short stories more than I ever have in the past. My "goal" for this year is to get enough stories published to allow me entrance into the SFWA. I don't know if my writing will get me there this year, but I have to try. If I don't, it NEVER will. And if I do, eventually I'll get there.

Saturday, I'm going to submit my novel to the RMFW contest again. Second year in a row, complete with improvements made from so many suggestions.

Life takes turns we never expect. And when we focus on the things that "didn't happen," it gets painful. I'm embracing progress, especially progress that surprises me. My best-laid plans may never amount to anything, and I need to learn to be okay with that. Or else I'm going to give up.

And that mindset is one of the most surprising changes that I've seen in myself in a long time.

I'd like to say that this blog is going to remain strong and consistent. But my day job is taking more and more of my time during the week, and my relationship with my wife and writing take up the rest of my time. This blog was meant to be a way to "journal" when I started it. Then it turned into my "web presence." Now? I don't know. Beyond the Trope is going to be my web presence in the future. It's where I can present myself in a professional capacity. It gives me focus and drive.

I'm not opposed to getting personal on the web, but there's a time and a place. This blog has gotten less personal over the years because it needs to. It's where I develop my professional face. That's why I don't talk politics.

Overall, life is going to move forward. This blog will remain up and a part of who I am on the web, and I'll continue to put together content for it.

We'll see where I go.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Out of Words?

I seem to be short on words for this blog. Most of my "quality" ideas are getting pushed to Beyond the Trope because that's a site where I want my best writing to appear. When I started this blog almost a decade ago, I genuinely thought it would spring-board me into the publishing world. Several high-profile bloggers got "discovered" through their weekly wit and engaging content.

Not so much over here. I keep up with it in any way I can to make sure I have a web-presence any time an agent or editor or random person interested in my thoughts happens to stumble by.

The truth, though? I honestly think that the best thing I can do with my life is to focus on my work, develop relationships in the real world, and keep putting as much content on Beyond the Trope as possible.

I'm so rarely home anymore, and when I am, I try to focus on my writing and my wife (prioritizing where I need to depending on the evening). Social networking doesn't work for me because every minute I spend trying to force myself into the conversations is another minutes I'm NOT developing and improving my craft. While my web-presence may help my chances of getting published some day in the future (if my writing is strong), I'm of the opinion that my writing needs to take much more effort.

When I have a writing contract, my web-presence will probably increase quite a bit. Until that day, this blog is going to take less and less of my time. And I'm going to write more and more books and short stories.

And, of course, Beyond the Trope will receive a good deal of attention, too. That's not going anywhere any time soon.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Creating Opportunity

I still can't believe how blessed I am to have the opportunities that I have. As some of you may have seen and/or heard, Beyond The Trope, the podcast I co-host, is going to Denver Comic Con to record several episodes. We approached them about the opportunity (they had a sign-up page on their website, so I filled it out), but it goes to show one major fact about life: many times, opportunities have to be created.

Now, there are opportunities that "show up out of the blue," and it's important to pay attention to those circumstances so they can be taken advantage of. This opportunity, however, would NOT have happened if I didn't take an active approach. At first, I didn't even think it would be worth the effort, either. I thought to myself (when I found out that DCC had the sign-up page), "There's no way they'll accept our application. We're too new, and it's Comic Con. They're going to pick the big, well-known podcasts who have a sizable following. And even if they DO pick us, they're not going to give us a table. Which means we won't be able to record on site."

Well, guess what? Not only did they accept our application (which you already knew because I told you in the first paragraph), they ALSO gave us a table. That's why we'll be able to record and interview people on site. And I can't stop jumping with excitement. Inwardly. Because my legs are tired and I'm writing this on my lunch break. But still jumping!

The same goes for other factors in our lives. I never honestly thought my wife would even CONSIDER starting a relationship with me. And I almost didn't ask her. But we've been together for seven years, married for six and a half.

As a writer, I have to approach agents with my manuscript. Sure, sometimes an agent will still approach a writer based on something that agent read in a periodical, but even if I published a dozen short stories a year, I don't expect that opportunity to come out of thin air. If I did, I would remain a short story author for the rest of my life (or a lot longer, at least), which would make it VERY difficult to become a full-time writer.

By querying agents, I'm creating opportunities. By going to conferences, I'm creating opportunities. No, I can't afford to create as many opportunities as I'd like, and I could spend my time griping about how it's unfair that people with lots of money and/or time can go to six or eight events a year that bring them face to face with editors and agents, but by complaining, I do nothing to advance my career. I just get whiney.

Chances are, the only way I'll be able to go to any events outside of this state (and more than one a year, for that matter) is if some of my debt goes away. But if I wait for that to happen, I'll be forty, bitter, and still working the same day-job that, while fulfilling in its own way and GREAT at paying the bills, isn't something I'm passionate about.

So I create opportunities. Not as often or as well as I'd like, but I'm still not giving up.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Charity of the Month: St. Jude Research Hospital

I love the research St. Jude does for children's cancer. I don't recommend them often enough, but I think they do some of the most important work any organization can do.

I don't have kids, but almost all of my best friends do. They're not wealthy, and even with insurance, they would owe a debt to St. Jude because of how much research the hospital has done over the years. However, with children's cancer so poorly under-funded, I think it's important to give as much as we can to help make sure that a cancer diagnosis isn't a death sentence for the future of our globe.

Join me in celebrating young life, and help preserve it throughout this beautiful May.