April 14, 2010
A couple of weeks ago I made my way to an essay by Kurt Busiek on breaking into comics (via Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog). Busiek wrote one of my favorite comics of all time (Marvels). I think he’s a pretty smart guy. And this essay is genius, because he touches on a topic that doesn’t get discussed very much at all: initiative. That is, to break into difficult artistic freelance pursuits like writing, art, photography, etc., you need a hell of a lot of initiative. You need to carve your own path. If you can’t do that — if you keep looking for a set of rules or guidelines to tell you exactly how to break in — you probably won’t make it as a freelancer. Because as a freelancer, nobody is going to give you a structure or a clear-cut path to follow. You have to make your own game plan and have the will to follow through.
I get a lot of e-mails asking how to get published, and I’m happy to answer them. (In fact, I’m getting them enough now that when I get some free time I want to do up a FAQ on my website that I can just point people too. Free time. . .HA!) But I’ll admit that they confuse me a little — it’s not like it’s some deep dark secret. There are tons of books and websites and workshops and people out there talking about how to get published. I learned about the business at first by reading a bunch of books from the library. When people ask me how to get published, I say the same thing. I point them to a few websites (like the SFWA information center) and tell them to do a bunch of research to learn about the business. There’s too much information to fit in an e-mail. (Did I mention that whole books have been written on the topic?) If they’re really going to learn this stuff, they need to get out there and do the research themselves. And if they can’t or don’t want to do that research — how on earth are they going to find the will, perseverance, and initiative to actually make it as a writer?
Anyway, the Busiek essay is really awesome.