Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Heinlein's Rule Number 4 - You Must Put It On The Market

(This is a series on Heinlein's Rules of Writing - Start with the introduction here.)

One of my favorite movies about writing isn't actually about writing. It's a strange Australian comedy about ballroom dancing, called Strictly Ballroom. It's about a brilliant young dancer who wants to dance his own steps - steps which are not "strictly" ballroom steps - and the forces of conformity (in the form of the Australian Dancing Federation) which are desperate to stop him.

Daring as the hero might seem, the real lesson of this story is carried by the heroine. She's a shy, awkward beginner who dares to approach a Pan-Pacific Open Champion and ask to dance with him. She's one the who teaches him her Spanish Gypsy motto: "A life lived in fear is only half a life." Everyone else in the story lives in fear of failure - even the hero at one point. But she is not afraid to fail. She's willing to fail over and over again.

And that is the lesson of the story. It isn't about daring to dance your own steps, it's about dancing your own steps in competition. It's about risking failure.

I mentioned that writing dream stories in your journal isn't enough if you want to be a storyteller. So, if being a writer (and not just a dreamer) is your nature, then you need to get the darn stuff out there to readers.

You've got to get published.

You have to risk failure.

Don't be shy. Don't be a coward. Don't leave it in a drawer. Get out there and dance your steps in competition! (That links to the end scene of Strictly Ballroom, so if you don't want spoilers, go out and rent it.)

Next time - You must keep it on the market until sold!

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