Copyright 2016 by Gabriel Connor Salter (feel free to share, but don’t plagiarize. I’m a writer, you have no idea what I can do to your reputation).
Some of you may have seen the Dark Knight trilogy or the Man of Steel movies.
If you have – and if, like me, you enjoy researching movies to discover their work – than you know those movies were co-written by David S. Goyer, who also co-wrote the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Goyer tells an interesting true story about how he got his first screenwriting agent:
He was 20 years old, still in film school, and he’d written screenplay. He called an agent whom someone had mentioned to him, left a message with the agent’s assistant saying he had a script the agent mgiht be interested in. She said she’d get back to him, Goyer knew she wouldn’t, so the next day he called and left the same message. He did this again and again, until 45 business days later, the agent got on the phone and demanded to know who Goyer was and why he kept calling him.
Goyer gave the agent his name, told him about the script and said one day he’d be famous and the agent would wish he hired him. The agent laughed, then said “send me your script, I’ll look at it – but don’t call me every single day.”
Goyer sent the script, waited two weeks, and then started calling the agent again. The agent finally signed him on – and commented that he chose to do so not because the script was so great but because the fact Goyer had so much confidence.
I don’t know that all of us could get the same results, but that story illustrates something important about successful writing: successful writers have to work hard and be persistent. That may be the single most important factor to writing for a living.
There are lots of other important elements to writing – talent is vital, good technique is absolutely necessary, and sometimes we just happen to write the right thing at the right time for it to sell – but make no mistake, hard work and persistence top the list. Often, good writing is not so much a question of “are you as talented as George Lucas?” it’s more a question of “Will you work hard?” and “Will you never give up?”
I had an experience recently that really drove this point home for me:
Almost two years ago now, I took a condensed college class at Taylor University. At the end of the course, the instructor, “Doc” Hensley, asked if anyone was interested in writing a freelance book review. I and two other students volunteered and he gave us each a book.
I read my book – “Twice a Slave” by Sammy Tippit – over the next month, wrote my review, emailed it to Doc who edited and polished it, then he sent it off to Church Libraries magazine. This would have been the first time I actually got my writing and name in print as a freelance writer.
I’ve never been able to figure out the full details, but apparently Church Libraries switched from being a print to an online publication just after my review was submitted and it got lost in the shuffle. I was disappointed, but I kept the review on file.
A year later I was a freshman student at Taylor, taking more classes with Doc. I got a chance to write more book reviews, after my next review was successfully published I visited Doc and showed him my “Twice A Slave” review again. I asked if there was any way it could still get published, he told me it wasn’t likely – but he would see if the publication who released my last review was interested.
This semester, that same review got published in two online publications – ironically, I’m fairly certain one of them, eclalibraries.org, is what Church Libraries magazine morphed into – and then less a month ago the Waynesdale News paid me $5 to run the review in their paper. The writing piece which I thought I’d wasted my time on became the first freelance work I actually made money from.
Persistence and hard work are by no means fun. But they do pay off.
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