If there’s one mantra I have for myself in writing and book publishing, it’s “Keep trying new things.” It's not a mere aphorism for me. It's a truth that's worked in several ways.
First is in the writing itself. When I began as a writer in college, certain things worked, and others did not--so I kept trying. I accepted I was Charlie Brown, and Lucy would forever yank away the football (but then one day, she did not.) When a story doesn't work, put it aside and try another. Keep trying.
As to what to write, some experts suggest to “brand” yourself and don’t vary. If you want to write horror, then write horror, but then don't write a comedy. You're muddling up your brand. However, I've never bought into that. I’ve sensed that my style and voice is my brand.
This is to say, I can’t help but see the world as absurd and funny. I come up with serious stories, such as a woman on the verge of suicide in my short story, “I’d Rather Die than Move to North Dakota,” and humor slips in. (It was published by Lit Noir, a literary journal.) My world point-of-view guides my subconscious mind as I write. That allows me to go into different genres and try new things. I have two literary novels out, and now two crime novels, along with two collections of short fiction. I’m trying new things.
“Keep trying new things” rose its head again when my most recent crime novel, A Death in Vegas, appeared. I wanted to try a new type of marketing. My books grab readers, but how to get that across to more people? “Let’s try a book trailer,” I said.
My publishing company hired a brilliant young Los Angeles director, Samuel Gonzalez, Jr., known both for his short dark films and also for his music videos. We went over basic ideas, which included my reading from the novel. When I showed up for the shoot, Gonzalez had brought in actors for a sequence that riffs a few scenes from the novel. I was to star. I had never thought of myself as an actor. I’m a writer.
Something in me said I had to stay true to my work, my baby, my novel, and so Gonzalez guided me brilliantly through the shoot. You can see the film below. He turned the trailer into a mini-movie, which runs seven minutes without the credits. See what you think.
In short, if you’re a writer or creator of any sort, push yourself, try new things. Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers says you have to persist for over ten thousand hours until your great at it. Start now. You might like the results.
Before I wrote novels and plays, I was a journalist and reviewer (plays and books). I blogged on Red Room for five years before moving here.