Sunday, July 22, 2012

Space exploration and writing - An Analysis of two similar paths

On this forty-third anniversary of the man first stepping foot on the moon, I thought I’d go space with my blog.

If you’re like me, writing is really important. I want to make a career of writing. I want to leave an imprint with my writing. I want to make people laugh, cry, think and dream. I’m not saying that I do—it’s what I strive to do. This past week I started to think about writing in the grand scheme of things. Get a load of this for a sec:     

Let’s say that we look at recorded history and squeeze it into a fifty year equivalent time-span. For the first forty years of our shrunken recorded time-line, we know very little.
That’s how long man existed before things started to happen. About ten years ago, man ventured out and started to build shelters—scary to think that 80% of our existence is relatively undocumented or impossible to reconstruct. We figured out how to use a cart with wheels about five years ago. Around that same time, we learned to write. 

This means that we’ve only been writing for 10% of our entire existence as humans on this planet. The printing press was only discovered this past year (remember, this is in the equivalent time span of 50,000 years.) Imagine—printed books have only been around for 2% of the time.
Other notable events in our condensed timeline—the steam engine was invented two months ago. Just last month, electric lights, phones and cars showed up. How about television, oh, that was last week. In this shortened time-line, the eReader and Ebooks showed up around midnight last night.

Wondering where I’m going? Yeah, me too. I guess what I’m getting at is that eBooks are really, really new. We agonize over time to write, to market, to sell and to meet the reading public. Yet, this is just a blip on the radar screen of time. We need to put it all in perspective. 

Long-term really isn’t so long-term, is it? If five years from now I have five to seven books on the market—that would be really cool. I don’t have to pound out books every four months to be “successful.” I look at others with 15 or more books out there and wish I were there now. Sheesh, The Card, only came out a year ago. 

We have to realize that we are on the cutting edge of an industry that didn’t exist a couple of years ago. Ten years from now, we’ll be looked at just like the tens of thousands of scientists that put a man on the moon forty years ago. Okay, maybe not the same way, but sort of. We are leading the way in a changing technological society. We may not be the first to send man to a place that is dominated by the pull of something other than earth’s gravity, but we are testing the waters, experimenting with technologies, and nurturing new businesses that didn’t exist a few years ago. I’m not talking about our book writing businesses, but the creation of millions of jobs that are an offshoot of these new technologies and platforms—jobs that support our creative endeavors.

Think about that for a moment. We are part of the process that adds jobs to the economy. With writers in particular, there is camaraderie and a willingness to help each other that is not restricted by borders. The space race to the moon was born out of necessity to secure the defensive position of the United States. It was in direct competition with other the USSR. Last week, people visited my blog from Russia, United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia and Pakistan.     

We are a part of something really big. We need to embrace it and love every moment of it. I’ll end with this analogy. Since I’m on a space kick today, let’s relate our writing career to that.

A deep space probe relies on rockets to escape the gravitational pull of the earth. Lots of juice in a short time, kinda like when our newest release hits the bookshelves and websites. We hit it hard, telling the world about our latest creation. 

Once our probe is in space, it only takes a few puffs from the guidance systems or a small burn to refine the spacecrafts trajectory. It is not a random flight path, but a planned and controlled sequence of events to keep the nose cone pointed in the right direction. Our marketing plan should be similar to that, little bursts of activity and the occasional “slow burn” that is calculated and planned in the over-all scheme of things. 

In between the firing of those small engines, the spacecraft just coasts. It spends long stretches where nothing is happening but the inertial result of earlier work. In writing terms, this is where you write. The spacecraft coasting is analogous to getting back to what you want to do—creating your next masterpiece.  

The minds behind the spacecraft must take into account every single source of gravity along the way, including asteroids, planets, moons and comets. Each one of these things affects the path of the probe as it comes within the gravitational pull of each mass. As writers, we must take into account our own “Newtonian trajectory” and make adjustments based on our sources of “gravity” from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and more, including things yet to be discovered (remember Pinterest four months ago?) 

Finally, our space probes are speeding off to faraway galaxies accompanied by a plate engraved with a male and female body and other symbols and words to let other forms of life know what we are about and where we are located. In our writing world, this is our legacy—leaving a lasting impression for other generations to experience. In the cosmos, we’ve only sent out a very few probes into the infinite realms of the universe. Talk about hit or miss! 

Let’s not do that with our writing. Let’s get back to the basics and get our work published. If we send out enough probes, we’ll get noticed. The number of times you’re on Twitter and Facebook won’t affect the long-term lasting impression you will leave in society. That manuscript that isn’t finished, that first draft that you don’t have time for, are your personal space probes that will leave your mark on our civilization.

What are you still doing here? Go write.

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is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an Apollo son who grew up in the shadow of man’s quest of the moon and beyond. He’s a little more grounded with his freelance work and his #1 Kindle Bestselling novel, THE CARD

A version of this post was originally published by Jim Devitt for Indies Unlimited.


  1. Wonderful post, Jim and oh so true: "The number of times you’re on Twitter and Facebook won’t affect the long-term lasting impression you will leave in society. That manuscript that isn’t finished, that first draft that you don’t have time for, are your personal space probes that will leave your mark on our civilization."

    I'm leaving now to work on my two short stories. Thanks for the reminder. :))

  2. Hey, thanks Jo-Anne, I appreciate the comments. I have to keep reminding myself all the time, too!