Going With the Crowd or Alone by Rival Gates
Thomas Edison invented an electric pen early in his career. It was truly a wondrous invention and a great achievement only matched by the measure of its commercial failure. He vowed after that to only devote his efforts to inventing things with a market need in place. Many hail this decision as a revelation on his part. I see it as an opportunity he missed. There is a trend in the arts, whether it be literary, film, music or stage that is not new. The trend is essentially, “Hey, such and such sold well. We want you to produce something like that.” How many bands do you think were played Beatles albums and told to play that way or writers shown “Cats” and told to produce something like that or given a Harry Potter book and told to write something along those lines?
Edison caved to the pressure and to his credit, went on to become one of the greatest inventors of all time. But what if he had worked on the projects he was passionate about instead? Who is to say he would not have made an item that created a market and he still would be a great inventor? The man did not follow his passion.
How do I know? In no interview on film or picture in a book do you ever see him smile. His rival, Nikola Tesla, knew he was right and chased his dreams at the expense of financial gain. When you see pictures of him performing his experiments, however, he is smiling and displaying his enthusiasm to the crowds even as electricity flowed through his body.
It’s a hard choice. You dream your whole life of becoming a certain profession. Then you get your big chance. Do you want to play the better odds and follow the crowd, or follow your heart and possibly end up as another failed writer? Even the editors try to change you. They rearrange your work to make it fit their mold better. These are the gatekeepers of your profession and you can only dig in your heels so many times so you had better make them count.
For me, it is not a matter of choice. I have a style and a type of story about which I have passion. I could no more change them than the hand I write with. I have tried to mimic some of the great writer’s styles and in the end, it sounds terrible. The only person I sound right being is me. You see, there is a difference between science and art. Science is based on what your brain tells you and art is based on what your heart tells you. You can change your way of thinking with enough effort, but your heart is an organ that listens to no reason and follows the path it chooses regardless of any suggestions, orders, warnings or advice from your brain. Have you ever fallen in love but your brain told you not to? Your brain was probably right, but the heart will still do as it chooses.
My heart tells me to write epic fantasy or high fantasy books, if you prefer. My mind screams at me to add sex and love triangles and all the stuff of the big hits, but that is not in my heart. I can count on one hand the number of writers who have had success in my field and most of them were dead before they achieved their status.
This is my electric pen. I’m not writing it to feed the masses more of the same. I want to write what I believe and love. My books are gaining ground with two out and a third about to be published. I will promote my work, but in the end I would rather sink or swim being myself than tread water as a shadowy copy.