Kevin J. Anderson’s got this popcorn theory of publishing success he’ll share with you, if you can stop him long enough to ask him about it (preferably with a decent microbrew in hand).

He says: there are two ways to make popcorn. You can put one kernel in the kettle, put a little bit of oil on it and a little bit of salt, and coax it until it evolves into the perfect *pop*. Then you put your next kernel in, and start again.

OR, you dump a huge bag of kernels in and a few cups of oil, and just let it explode. Some kernels pop; some don’t. But you get to watch your movie a heckuva lot sooner.

Me, I’m in this second camp, mostly by default. I have an addictive personality. Obsessive, even. When it’s not an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s socially acceptable. Envied, even. I am a workaholic. I live life. I seize the adventure with both hands and hang on with enthusiasm. I believe in total immersion. I’ve got seventeen projects going on at any given time. You want popcorn? I have a warehouse out back.

But yeah.
I also have drums full of the ones that didn’t pop.

What Kevin doesn’t mention is that you feel every one of those duds. Every disappointment. It’s personal. And yeah, it doesn’t kill us and it makes us stronger and it’s just the battle not the war and blah blah blah and we shed a tear and we move on.

A cup full of those misfits has enough emotional energy to fuel a small star, to call down lightning, to punch a hole in time large enough to crawl through.

But there’s too little time in the day as it is.

When I’m in that moment, that indulgent, self-pitying failurefied moment, I’m lucky enough to have a father that sends me the following message, with a picture attached. I remember this day. I was what, maybe fifteen?

Dad’s email read: “As a first step in her plan for world domination, Alethea Kontis becomes proficient firing the 5.56 mm Squad Automatic Weapon.”

Whatever doesn’t kill you…hands you an M249.
Self-pity class dismissed.