In a second hand bookshop I stumbled upon a three book collection of Isaac Asimov’s First Orbits. It’s a collection of his early science fiction works with commentary in between each story with biographical details of how the pieces came to be with an evaluation of each work. As I began reading, it seemed like the perfect choice over the New Year as it charts his “eleven years of trying” as he attempts to make a living at writing. What struck me was the methodical persistence he set about this task as if he were training to be any other profession. He spent time writing and submitting his work for sale to magazines. If a piece was rejected he would try and sell it elsewhere and if he couldn’t shift it, he moved on to writing a new piece.
There is something refreshing and inspiring reading about someone who didn’t wait for luck to seek him out, but sought opportunities persistently and resiliently. Not each piece he wrote was brilliant or earth shattering, but sometimes they were good enough and someone would buy them.
Asimov did what he loved, but actively promoted himself and his work. Was it just a case of keeping going until something stuck? Or was it his talent alone that saw him as one of the most successful science fiction writers of his time? Or a mixture of both?
Does this also translate to business ventures I wonder. Do you need to be able to produce brilliant and original ideas, or just have the stamina to promote and carry your idea to the paying people?
It has certainly given me much food for thought.
That Guy says
Half of everything is in the packaging!
In terms of self promotion, it’s entirely possible to be perceived as great because you tell people you’re great, or just believe it enough, but I don’t think it works for everyone. A certain something needs to be there, a certain… “I don’t know what”, as the French say, which somehow makes it work.