Don't Give Up: The Rambling of Constant Dreamer

We are on the last day of National Novel Writing Month. The month of November is when many, many, many writers take up the challenge of writing 50 000 words of a novel. For the sixth straight year, I have accomplished the challenge. I am now aiming to nail 60 00 words, which will be the most words that I've ever written for the contest. I am currently over 59 000 words and have already beaten my past record, which was a little over 55 000 words. But the real challenge is the upcoming months.

I currently have five manuscripts from past Novembers that not only need to be proofread and reworked, but also need to be finished. As someone who has wanted to be a novelist since I was a little kid and have been writing stories since I learned how to hold a pencil, I know that I need to take the big plunge and do the work needed to be able to send out my completed manuscripts around to literary agents. I can't have a career as a novelist if I don't have finished and refined novels to sell.

My big breakthrough as a professional writer was writing for the sadly now defunct The Collective Publishing where I was the weekly pop culture columnist and the movie critic. My first ever paid movie review was The Avengers in May 2012, and that pushed my career towards writing about movies and TV. By the end of 2012, I had a bit of a readership and was feeling pretty comfortable in my movie reviewing skills, so I decided to launch a podcast along with my great friend Scott Martin, which is the still running movie review podcast, The Movie Breakdown. 

I'm proud of my work with The Movie Breakdown. and I really appreciate the amazing listeners that 'tune' in each week for the podcast. But I am also well-aware that over the last few years I could have made moves to increase the podcast's exposure and I could have been more aggressive in marketing the show. While I've done some work in landing sponsors, I know it is something I could have done sooner and pushed harder.

One of the downsides of the podcast is that for whatever reason even though I was writing movie reviews before the podcast, I have now really decreased the amount of reviews I've written, instead allowing the majority of my reviews to be just for the podcast. My movie review writing mojo has run off with Austin Powers. I keep wanting to write these ambitious reviews that stand out from the pack, but as I go to write them, I start questioning what I really have to add and if my reviews are worthy of the movies they are analyzing. I can justify skipping the written reviews because I have the show to cover my thoughts. It is silly. 

I have years of experience writing various kinds of reviews and I know that I am at least a competent reviewer, Plus I already do reviews every week on the podcast, so I just need to return to writing them each week. I know for a fact that I have fans of my old movie reviews that do not listen to the podcasts, which means they've been missing something that they used to get almost every week. I want to be a great movie reviewer that follows in the path of the legendary Roger Ebert and I want to get into the Online Film Critics Society and become a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic, but that can only happen if I return to writing reviews every week. They don't need to change the world or be these sweeping 2000 plus reviews, and even just a few hundred words would get me back into the game. 

I know several people that have recently left Facebook and other social media because of the toxicity and propaganda and dishonesty plaguing lots of social media. I keep telling them that I would have left most of the sites if it wasn't for the fact that I need it to promote my podcast, site and writing. But I'll be honest, I haven't really been that great at attracting many followers on any of the platforms. My goals have always been to use social media to gain a following and leverage it into readers for many of my projects. I would like for the site and books and things that I have more control over to slowly become a bigger part of my career rather than sales copy and ghostwriting, but I recognize being established on social media is a key ingredient in making it work. I also recognize that I need to spend less time getting discouraged with numbers and more time writing daily stuff that grabs people's attention. I can't gain a following if there isn't daily high-quality stuff to follow.

I relaunched this blog as Beyond the Balcony in October. I knew from day one that it would be hard to write on here as much as I wanted with the kids being home all day and needing my time without them to be devoted to sales copy and client work. I also know that if I ever want this site to be a major part of my career that I need to write on here daily. Many days I'll write a piece that I am not happy with how it turned out or have a tribute to a movie star that I fear my words can't do them justice. I keep telling myself that I need to 'dare to be awful' and write anyway. I can just write something short, but at least I'm getting stuff on the site. I can't draw back my lost readers and I can't grow the site without their being a reason for readers to come here every day.

I've been working on adding features and making the site more professional. Some of my code and work hasn't worked yet. I've been consulting forums and asking for help, but a few issues including trying to set-up AdSense continues to not work. It is frustrating. I also know like everything above, success can only happen if I persevere and stick with it.

I just went through a several stage hiring process to be a regular contributor to a major site. After all the work and making it to the 'finals', I ended up not getting the position. I've been pitching to several publications and I've been getting some positive feedback, but not landing many of the big gigs that I want. It is discouraging. I know that I'll never land that dream article or story if I stop pitching altogether.

There is a famous story that Stephen King initially crumpled up Carrie and chucked it in the trash. He was a teacher during the day and at night was writing short stories that he sold mostly to men's magazines. Carrie had soared past being a short story and he feared it would be too hard to get a novel published, since it wasn't in his comfort zone. He also did not really like what he had written and felt he failed to get the voice of his female characters. His wife, Tabitha, found the manuscript crumpled in the trash and encouraged Stephen to keep on writing and promised she would help him nail the female perspective. Carrie went on to be a bestseller, was adapted into a box-office smash hit movie and launched Stephen King into being one of the most successful novelists of all time.

George Lucas originally wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie. He grew up loving the serials and desired to craft his own version. He failed to obtain the rights that were bought by famous producer Dino De Laurentis. Not giving up, he spent several years writing several drafts for his own space opera adventure picture. He eventually called it Star Wars, and shopped it around to every major movie studio, and most of them rejected it, Except for 20th Century Fox, which the legend is was down on its luck at the time after several flops. Even then, they were not confident it would be a hit, and had force movie theatres to carry it or they wouldn't get what they thought would be the bigger hit an adaptation of a Sidney Sheldon novel, The Other Side of Midnight. After Lucas screened the movie to some colleagues and executive, almost everyone didn't get it and thought it would be a disaster. As we all know now, it may not be the behemoth that is The Other Side of Midnight, but Star Wars did okay.

As many of my readers know, I've been trying to adopt positive thinking this year to help me control my depression and get myself into a success-driven mindset to realize my dreams. I've written about positive thinking a few times this year, and every time, it is about things that I've implemented and have worked for me. I feel that I am in a much more optimistic and positive place now then I was at the start of 2020. I am now more focused than ever on achieving all my dreams or at least, believe that if not these dreams then something better will come if I stay committed, confident and focused.

George Lucas created my favourite movies of my childhood and Star Wars is easily the movie that I've seen the most in my entire life. Stephen King is my favourite author and I think is one of the best writers ever, even if many dismiss him as a genre writer. Both creators have had a huge influence on my life with their amazing works. But I think the two above stories have had the biggest impact on me this year.  These are men that had obstacles and challenges, but they also had dreams and goals. They persevered. They persevered even when they may have thought what they created wasn't very good and they were even told by powerful people it was time to give up. They stuck with it anyway and now are two of the most successful creators of all time.

My crystal ball is in the shop, I don't know my future. I look at these two men to remember the importance of not giving up, creating something every day and believing that I can achieve my dreams. I don't have a best-selling novel. My blog and podcast audience are modest. I am not drawing in a sea of followers. But I continue to believe every day that I am going to achieve my dreams. I promise to continue to write and strive to be better every day.

I am so thankful for the readers that I have, especially if you have stuck with me through the last decade of my career. I am so grateful that you enjoy my stuff. I am very appreciative and humbled by the many readers and listeners who have taken the time to send me incredibly kind notes about how they appreciate my work. You drive me to be better and I promise you more of my work is one the way.

My hope is this little venting session has some value for you. Maybe you have a dream that keeps on getting deterred by roadblocks or you don't feel anyone believes in you or that your stuff just isn't very good. Stick with it. Believe you can achieve all that you want and then use that to drive yourself to be better and do what you need to achieve your dreams. I'll be here sharing my own journey along the way.