Categories
Writing and Publishing

Five Ways to Create a Legacy

I’m a movie buff, enjoying most genres and all eras, including silent movies and especially Buster Keaton films. One of them, Our Hospitality, set in 1830 Appalachia is a classic tale of boy meets girl, who only finds out too late that her family is set on killing his.

Will love prevail or will their family feud end all chance for happiness?

I digress.

Buster Keaton co-directed and starred in Our Hospitality. Released in 1923, the flick is ninety years old. That’s incredible.

Though I don’t know Buster’s motivation, I suspect he merely wanted to earn a living, using art to do so. I presume that creating something enduring—outlasting him and becoming his legacy—was not his goal, but just a happy outcome.

This gives me pause. Will my writing survive ninety years? Will people still read my words in nine decades? It’s a laughable thought, ridiculous as well as arrogant. While I do suspect some of my work might resonate more with the next generation than this one, lasting longer is unlikely.

Yet, I do want my writing to be my legacy, to outlive me and benefit future generations. While this isn’t something I can orchestrate, I can be intentional:

Avoid the Short Term

In my first blog, I’d often write about sports, politics, and the weather. These topics have a lifespan measured in days, not years. I want my writing to mean something in the future, so I’ve stopped covering current events, instead of writing about biblical Christianity.

Make it Meaningful For Today—and Tomorrow

I try to make my writing practice for now, as well as applicable for later. This means taking a long-term view. Although harder to do and time-consuming, the results are more likely to remain.

Focus on What Will Last

Even if I could pepper my prose with pop culture references and use trendy jargon, in ten years my words would emerge as nonsense, at best, and incomprehensible, at worst. I strive for relevance while avoiding words and references that will date my work and limit its long-term value.

Produce Your Best Stuff

Good art lives on; people dismiss mediocre output and forget average work. I strive to always do my best while working for continual improvement.

Know When to Push Boundaries

One reason Buster Keaton’s work prevails is that he did things no one else was doing and did so with brilliance. I marvel at his genius. Teachers instruct writers on what to do and how to do it, that opposing norms will doom our work.

This is true, yet breaking away from the status quo may be what makes a work unique—and lasting. The key is discerning whether deviations from the expected are gimmick or genius. Often we won’t know until later.

It’s unlikely anyone will read my words, or even have access to them, in ninety years, but I work to do what I can to provide the potential for that to happen.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Business Articles

Three Reasons Why Firefly Failed

It’s been said Gene Roddenberry pitched the original Star Trek TV show as “a western in outer space.” I can appreciate the simplicity of that statement, but think it’s a bit off the mark. However, that would’ve been perfect for the TV show Firefly. Firefly truly was a western in space. (Lest you think the idea a bit crazy, consider the movie Cowboys and Aliens.)

Firefly, like Star Trek, also had its pilot episode rejected — and was then given the green light to shoot a second one.

Firefly debuted ten years ago and only lasted half a season. This was not because of any problems with the show, but with its network. There are three reasons why Firefly failed:

1) The shows were aired out of sequence: Though each show was self-contained, it also built on the prior one. There’s no excuse for showing them out of order.

2) It was often preempted: It’s hard to build a following if people can’t form a habit of watching you each week.

3) The plug was pulled too soon: Only 14 episodes were shot and only 11 aired. Had it been given a full season, an audience would have developed. It was in the unaired episodes that the story really took off.

Firefly creator Joss Whedon had a unique concept, an intriguing storyline, and a seven-year story arc mapped out. Had the network not bungled it, Firefly could have been the next Star Trek.

I encourage you to check out Firefly but don’t watch them in the order aired, rather in the order they were filmed (as listed in Wikipedia and Netflix).

[Tip: The original two-hour pilot was named Serenity, as was the movie sequel, shot in 2005. Watch the pilot Serenity first and the movie Serenity last.]

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is publisher, editor, author, and blogger with 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for tips and insights.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Bourne is Back!

I’m a big fan of the Bourne movies. Not because of the over-the-top action or excessive violence, but because of the intriguing storyline—and the slowly unveiling connection between Jason and Nicky.

After the third movie, I wanted more and was understandably excited when a fourth one was announced. Alas, my enthusiasm was short-lived. Jason and Nicky are not part of this latest installment; there will be a new batch of characters for us to follow. This latest movie, “The Bourne Legacy,” will open in a few days.

So, I will never learn what Nicky meant when she said, “It was difficult… for me… with you. You… really don’t remember, do you?” There is certainly more there to be revealed, but what is it?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

13 Movies About Writing

There are a lot of movies about writing and even more when you consider movies that have writers as characters. Here’s my initial list:

  • Paris When it Sizzles
  • Alex & Emma
  • The Muse
  • My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend
  • Never Been Kissed
  • Finding Forrester
  • Finding Neverland
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • As Good as it Gets
  • Limitless
  • Romancing the Stone
  • Nim’s Island
  • Paris After Midnight

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Tips on Writing Book Reviews

Last week I shared my foray into writing movie reviews. It wasn’t long before I began penning book reviews as well. However, unlike my short-lived tenure writing movie reviews, book reviewing is a practice that has continued. So far I’ve written 53 (it takes longer to read a book, so the numbers accumulate slower.)

The best time to write a review is within a day of finishing the book or watching the movie, allowing for some time to process it, but not enough to forget important details.

For example, after watching “The Life Before Her Eyes” it was several hours before I actually “got” the ending—and some reviewers hadn’t—so had I written immediately, I would have been one of them.

However, waiting too long is never good. I have six books sitting in my “to be reviewed” pile that were read in the midst of working on a big project (my dissertation) and set aside for a later review. I hope to get to them, but fear that I have already waited too long.

I just finished reading “The Reluctant Prophet” by Nancy Rue, which I hope to review today.

Like my movie reviews, about half of my book reviews have also been posted on my A Bible A Day website; the other half are patiently sitting in my computer, awaiting their eventual liberation. I plan to also add them to my soon-to-be-relaunched PeterDeHaan.name website.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.