My old buddy Danny Fingeroth used to edit a terrific (and now, sadly, defunct) magazine called Write Now! Back in 2005, Danny asked a group of professionals, including yours truly, if they had any advice for fellow writers, especially those beginning their careers. This is the answer I gave him then. Rereading it today, I realized I’d offer the same advice now (not just to you, but to myself: I'm in need of constant reminders)—which is why I’ve decided to share it here.
The best advice I could give to any writer—aspiring or otherwise—is simple: follow your bliss. Yeah, yeah, we've all heard the old Joseph Campbell cliche a thousand times...but it's a cliche because it's true. Let your passion guide you and you can never go wrong. It may not lead you exactly where you want to go, but it will always lead you someplace good; and sometimes your final destination will be better than the one you originally had in mind.
Don't get sidetracked by practicality. You're a writer. If you were practical you'd be doing something else. Let your passions carry you forward and don't listen to the Naysayers and the Practical People who are always around to tell you exactly why your dreams can never be realized. I'm here to tell you that your dreams can be realized, if you pursue them with all your heart and soul. Follow your bliss.
As for business advice...well, here's something it took me years to figure out: Always remember that you're a freelancer. Work for as many different companies as you can. You're out there on the front lines chasing your dreams and trying to make a living and your loyalty should always be to the work and to your collaborators—the artists, writers and editors who are an intimate part of your creative process. Don't fool yourself into being loyal to a company. Companies aren't people, they're entities.
I'm not saying that you can't have a terrific relationship with Marvel or DC or Dark Horse or Whoever. I'm just saying that you have to remember that the relationship isn't with a name or a brand...it's with people. And people come and go. The company you think you work for on Monday can be a completely different place on Tuesday: That editor-in-chief who thought you were a genius? Fired. The publisher who understood your creative vision? Gone. And the next editor-in-chief, the next publisher, could very well decide that you're a talentless neophyte or a tired old hack and toss you right out the door.
You're a freelancer...so freelance. Always keep your feet in as many doors as possible. This way, when one of them slams, you won't be standing in the hall alone and confused, wondering how the hell you're going to support your family.
And when that door does slam...and, at some point in your career, it will...don't give up. Hold on to your dreams. Believe: in magic and miracles and your own ability to manifest your dreams.
Follow your bliss.
©copyright 2012 J.M. DeMatteis