It’s weird to be on panels and have other panelists say “Wow, you know a lot about this topic. How did you learn so much?”
Once I get over my assumption that they are mocking me and realize it’s a genuine compliment, I think about how many thousands of hours I spent studying publishing, and business, and writing, because not one single human would give me a chance.
And the only reason that I even have a chance now is because I have worked incredibly hard for longer than I could possibly imagine, studied more boring books, and podcasts, and interviewed more experts than anybody I know until I because one of the foremost experts in the world on how to build a creative business, especially a publishing business.
I was talking to my wife yesterday and asked her “how did I become a good editor? I mean, I know I am a good editor, but how did it happen?”
And I was like…oh yeah, I created my own books and worked on my own stuff and edited things that became successful and learned from some of the best writers and editors I know and then I was like…
…oh yeah, that’s pretty much how people get phds, too. They obsessively study things until they are the foremost expert in the world on some random thing…
…and that’s pretty much how people get to be successful in just about anything. They study, and work, and do it, and keep hitting dead ends until they find a way through, even though it’s probably not in the way they think they’ll get there…
…and then one day…
…they just are a thing…
…and then the accomplishments don’t feel impressive, because when you were trying to become that thing, you WEREN’T that person yet, but now you are…
…and when you become that person, it’s as normal as breathing to do the stuff you once thought you could never do…
…and when I tell this to people, they don’t believe me, but it’s true.
The way to reach a goal is to become the kind of person who reaches that goal, and then you can do it no problem.
If you want to be something, become the type of person who does that thing, and then you will do that thing.
My whole life I wanted to be a successful type of creative human; first an actor, then a director, then a photographer, and finally a writer.
But I couldn’t raise $25,000+ on Kickstarter until I became the type of human that did it.
I idolized those types of people, then I became one of those types of people, because I kept working harder and improving faster until I broke through and became that type of person.
I always wanted to speak at conventions all around the country, but it wasn’t until I became the type of person that did that sort of thing that I was able to do it, and it’s still hard, but now it feels like walking.
Now, it’s just the type of thing I do, instead of some mythical feat.
I know, it sounds idiotic, but it’s true. I won’t sit here and say everything is attainable because that’s just not true, but MOST things are sort of attainable, as long as you work hard enough for long enough and become the type of person that does that thing.
Every time I interview a creative person or even talk to one at length, there is always a moment where they go “I don’t know how I got here. I just kept doing the work, and then, one day, I walked through the door”.
When hundreds of people tell you the same thing, you sort of have to trust it’s a fact even if you don’t believe it, and then, but when it happens to you, it’s going to shock you as well.
I know a lot of people who just got acceptances for tables at SDCC for the first time, and it’s because they became good enough to make something that allowed them to be accepted, made connections that helped their chances, and built a portfolio worthy of a table.
I know people who have never gotten into anthologies and then suddenly BAM, they are getting in left and right, because suddenly something clicked. They did the work until they were good enough to walk through the door.
Sometimes, you are talented enough to walk through the door, but you might not have the connections or some other skill you need to acquire, or, yes, sometimes the door is held closed by a misogynistic, racist, bigoted, close-minded, jerk and that’s not fair.
But I’ve seen people walk through doors too often in my life to chalk it up to chance.
They struggled and struggled to kick open a window for years, and then, one day, they became the kind of person who walked through the front door, and then, they did.
I have often realized that the thing standing between me and a door is me, and if I wanted to walk through the door, then I had to chance, and then, when I did, suddenly, everything opened for me.
I write cool things, filled with monsters, humor, action, adventure, and generally awesomeness. Then, I sell those things to humans. I am pretty good at it.