I could watch Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon over and over (and have), but it’s the one scene before John’s break with the record guy that always sticks with me.
If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing *one* song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up.
This is what I ask myself before I begin any project. Is this really the story I want to work on? What am I going to be able to say in it that hasn’t been said a hundred times already?
But more, I’ve been using this to help me make choices about what else I do, both here online and in my personal life.
For instance, last year (or maybe even the year before) a well-published author I’d been following for awhile really got into online marketing. I joined a bunch of lists at her recommendation, and downloaded some stuff about building lists and targeting audience.
But in the end, I didn’t use any of it. As a consumer and reader myself, that kind of advertising turns me off quicker than Data’s sleep switch in his neck. Do I want people to find me because of some marketing gimmick I used, or because of my stories? That was easy for me to answer.
As Lynn Viehl has said, don’t do any promo that you don’t ENJOY doing. I don’t enjoy all the online marketing ploys, and so I will not do them. If I’m lying in a ditch dying, I don’t want people to remember that I scammed them into joining all sorts of “buy me!!” lists. I’d rather people remember that I sent them a free book, or wrote a funny tale about the monsters, or better yet, wrote a damned good story that kept them up all night.
I had a project a few weeks ago that I was working on for an anthology call. I thought it was hitting all my buttons. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it didn’t fit me. It wasn’t a “lying in a ditch dying” sort of project. So, I cut it. I hate giving up on a project, but I don’t have the time to work on things that don’t really, really move me.
If you were lying in a ditch and could only show your current project, whatever it is, does it truly say what you want to be remembered for? Do your resolutions or goals for this year back that statement up?
For me, this means I’m working on Return to Shanhasson (nearly ready to submit), Victor, and the new SFR world that’s been building in my head. They are stories that move me, and hopefully they’ll move you too.