"A steaming pile of dog diarrhea."
This is how film-maker, Mark Duplass, (The Lazarus Effect, The Mindy Show, The Skeleton Twins . . . ) described his first film. He and his brother poured their hearts and souls, as well as $65,000 of their own money, into this first film. When it was all said and done, the brothers found themselves on the sofa, dejected and looking to abandon their shared dreams. Realizing that if they didn't get back on the proverbial horse immediately, Mark convinced his brother to get up at that very moment to make a film - on their iPhone.
More about that in a moment.
The purpose of this site is to share wisdom and experiences about becoming a world-class full-time author, with an army of devoted followers. Seeing as how I have neither, I am going to do what any good writer would: steal! You owe it to yourself to take a listen to Mark's story for yourself. I have included the YouTube video below. It is refreshingly frank, grounded and constructive.
A brief note about my experience with writing so far: I dabbled with a few short stories, and wrote one short novel, but was overcome early on by a sweeping, epic story in my mind. The thing took on a life of its own. I suppose this is a good thing, my creation crying out from within to be birthed, and all that. But the story swelled to Tolkien proportions, which is why I wish I had encountered Mark Duplass' talk earlier in life.
Mark and his brother continued making these "micro" films, which - long-story-short - they eventually leveraged into full movie careers.
This was Mark's advice to young film-makers: Make a three dollar movie every weekend.
PS. These movies will suck.
But, in these piles of garbage, a gem or two will emerge, little genuine moments will peek out. Amass enough of these little gems and you have enough emotional capital for a short film worthy of being submitted to festivals. It is easy to substitute the word "film" for "story". (Films being simply another story-telling medium, after all.)
The takeaways, I think, are these: Don't be afraid to suck. Nay. Be prepared to suck. And also, get out there and pound out short works.
Oh how I wish I had encountered this advice before launching into this Brobdingnagian novel. But no regrets! I love my tale and can't imagine life without it.
There is a natural progression to becoming a great author (or sculptor, or master carpenter, or cake designer). We want to think that we will be the next J.K. Rowling, who - the myth goes - went from living in her car to, overnight, a billionaire author with a movie franchise and theme parks. But, even if completely true, JK is an outlier at the furthest right arc of the bell curve.
Writing is a job and a craft. It takes time and - maybe more importantly - lots and lots of work. The more likely path of the author is: crappy high school poetry, college campus journal, literary magazine, compilation, novel. Or something to that effect. Malcolm Gladwell claimed that it takes 10,000 hours to master a thing. I would challenge that number (90 minutes a day for 20 years!) - but point well taken.
So write. Get black on white, as they say. Get out the shovel and start the long, sweaty labor of digging down to where gold veins lie. Refine your craft on the backs of napkins and Starbucks bags. Suck. Get better. Suck a little less. Get honest and get great. And when the time is right . . . publish.
Get out there and write a three dollar story every week.
What Readers Are Saying
A great, sweeping work of speculative fiction reminiscent of the science worship found in Asimov's Foundation series and the historical arcs of Neal Stephenson's longer works. The author's prose is a deftly woven tapestry of words- beautifully descriptive without being forced or tedious.