Cthulhu smiles upon me

Our lord and savior Cthulhu can be a temperamental being. But maybe he’s feeling lenient now that his presidential campaign is going so well. Just when things were starting to get crazy, and I was worrying how I’d have enough time in the day, the stars were right again.

Two of my video projects got delayed – one a week, and the other a month. But it works out. Instead of having an extremely front loaded August, I now have an evenly spaced August and an evenly spaced September. I’ve picked up one, maybe two contracts to fill in the gaps in early August, and I’m definitely on track to meet my goals for the year. Contracts are getting signed, invoices are coming in, work will (eventually) make it to my portfolio for show-offsies.

I am impatient, as you all know, but I’ve already got half of my year end profit goal on the books, and the other half will probably come with my highly likely but still unsigned leads. Honestly, if I did not book another lead for the rest of the year, I would probably meet my goal. And it may have to reach that point. I have a couple of really big projects coming up. I have two clients who, assuming one actually hires me and the other continues hiring me, could theoretically supply 2/3 of next year’s goal alone. Dunno if I want all my eggs in that basket, but we’ll see how much time I will need for it all.

Paradisa is now with a professional copyeditor, the amazing Leona Wisoker. Leona and I met through AtomaCon and she loves diverse SFF and supporting female writers. I read her first book, Secret of the Sands, and thought she had the most wonderful writing style I’ve ever read and a perfect grasp on psychic distance. Plotwise, we couldn’t be more different – her book was an epic length, slow burn quest adventure while mine is very commercial, short, and very urgent. But I didn’t find that to be an important distinction in choosing her as my editor, because I’m fairly comfortable with my choices in how Paradisa is plotted. To say that much maligned phrase – it is what it is, and the audience will subjectively gravitate towards it or not. What I objectively needed help on is voice and narration and POV, and Leona has that stuff for days, ya’ll.

I’m also participating in #PitchWars! Which could really throw me for a loop if I actually get in, because all of a sudden we’ll have two very fast months of lots of Paradisa revisions (hopefully the copyedits will be here by the end of October, so I’d be able to add them into my #PitchWars revisions too). There are two mentors in particular who I think I’ll see eye to eye with, and two others that are a bit of a gamble. The likelihood of getting picked is low, but I’m hoping to at least get some feedback. I will probably upload my PitchWars bio sometime this week (maybe even today).

Everything else happens during the in between moments. I’ll cram Unreal training in there. I would like to get Devil’s Advocate uploaded to Film Freeway and start submitting it to some film festivals (one’s deadline is today, so I might still have some time…) I submitted to a pub today after an exclusive got rejected. On and on it goes.

Switching Gears from “Doer” to “Learner”

I started writing my business and marketing plans for Aether Motion yesterday, at the strong recommendation of everyone who has advice to give about entrepreneurship. They’re pretty intimidating documents, asking me to envision a very specific path to take with my company. They’re forcing me to think about the value I can add to the local economy, which is a bit hard when most of my endeavors are pretty self-serving. And it’s intimidating because I’m really not sure where to specify in right now. I know the endgame, but I need to get hands on Charleston’s market before I can decide the best path to take. Is there only room for wedding videography here? Is there a huge void for DPs and commercial videographers? I’ve scouted out a few stats and looked up my competition, but only meeting the market directly will give me a good perspective of where I should focus.

I have picked a focus clientele  – small businesses and indie artists who cannot afford, or who don’t need, some of the bigger guys with 15 years Hollywood experience. It seems like the most sensible way to compete with said Big Guys. I also know that some of the more unique services I could offer include motion capture, visual effects, and animation, which no other videographers in the area can do (there are some who JUST do motion graphics and VFX, which says a lot about how schizophrenically I might be running this thing).

But here’s the issue – I don’t have my mocap equip yet, because I can’t afford it (although I’m going to try to win a Perception Neuron suit soon, so we’ll see how that goes!). I can’t offer animation and modeling yet because I don’t know enough about it. I can’t offer visual effects yet because I’m not entirely proficient in After Effects and I would need enough steady income to afford the $20/month license to After Effects.

Simply put, I have a lot to learn before I can start doing. And I have a lot to build before I can reach where I really want to be.

The more I dwelled on this – all the things I’m trying to learn, from C++ to Unreal Engine to 3DsMax and all the settings on my own DSLR camera, the more it dawned on me that this year, 2016, is not meant to be about accomplishments. I am facing constant difficulty due to my lack of experience and knowledge in the things I’m trying to achieve. I definitely don’t regret putting myself out there, as that took courage and has motivated me to actually achieve my dreams. And I can certainly work with the status quo.

But I think I may shift gears for this year, and focus less on meeting goals and more on preparing myself for them. If I make more time in my schedule for learning,  that will give me a better foundation for all that I want to do. So, with that, I’ve changed a few details about this year’s plans…

  • No endgame animation/modeling plans for 2016 aside from completing a proof of concept for my Fallout series. I may reduce this PoC to modeled stills instead of animated product. Hopefully I can merge some of this work with the “learning” aspect of my journey, and make this project my “thesis”, so to speak.
  • Eliminated Ascendents, the sequel to Paradisa, from my writing schedule. There is only one reason for that sequel to exist in novel form, and that’s if I manage to sell Paradisa. It definitely does not need to be written by this August. I will instead loosen the timeline on finishing The Shadow of Saturn, and hopefully still write my time travel book The Mothers of Invention at the end of the year. So I’ll still be writing, but slowly, to give myself more time for learning. Obviously I still need to finish the final edits on Paradisa as well.
  • Experimental work for the rest of the summer for Aether Motion. I want to film about 3 gigs a month at minimum, and hopefully have a diverse and impressive portfolio by August.
  • Backing off a little on the Indie MoCap article pipeline until I can start making my own content. Again, really hoping to win something to help with this (believe me, I will blow up your feed with me begging for votes when I do!)
  • Attend some animation/modeling classes at a nearby tech school during the fall, and maybe hit up one of their seminar-style classes on marketing, SEO, and social media. I may be able to find such resources in a free online course too, or on books through Kindle Unlimited.
  • Attend every free seminar on entrepreneurship that I can, and hook myself up with a free mentor at SCORE.
  • Read a ton, particularly nonfiction. I have two books on mocap on my shelf that are probably a good place to start.
  • Really push to get a piece of short fiction published this year, to go along with the “establishing myself and my reputation” thing that I’ll thank myself for later.

One thing I strive to be is adaptable, and unafraid of shelving things that aren’t working for me. I don’t want to get so attached to my goals that I feel disappointed in delaying or abandoning them. Truthfully, I still have the same endgame. But I’m giving myself the tools I need now to save myself a lot of headache later.