What’s our Ceiling?

sanibel_island_doc_fordsEach of us has our own idea of success in writing. I’ve found that out the past few weeks in the comments on my past few blog posts for Indies Unlimited. Some are in it for the pleasure; others are in it for the dough. By no means does that represent every reason for pursuing our passion for writing, but I believe that it does provide for the two bookends of our main reasons for what we do. The question is … have we really thought about how far we can take this thing?

I hit #1 in three different categories on Amazon for my debut novel, The Card. Does that mean I’m successful? If I were satisfied with that accomplishment, I would drift away to the abyss. Nobody would know who I was as a writer. As most of you know, that can be as fleeting as a passing thunderstorm in Florida.

Then you follow up your first book with a second. Ooooh, now I’m really an author. Even if you’ve pumped out ten other books, are you really taking this thing to its limit? I’m amazed when I look around at my peers who do a great job book after book. I consider them true success stories in the Indie writing world.

But … how far can you really take this thing?

This past week my family and I vacationed in a sleepy island town off the coast of West Florida, Sanibel Island. We’ve been there several times before and one of my favorite places on the island is a restaurant and rum bar called Doc Ford’s. Now let me say up front, the food is very good, probably some of the best on the island. However, that’s not the main reason for going there.

You see, Doc Ford’s is a fictional place. Oh, yes, it is a real restaurant. It’s not like I close my eyes and transport myself there. Doc Ford’s is the passion of Randy Wayne White. Some of you may have heard that name before. In fact, I’ve written about him a while ago, describing his start in the writing world.

Randy Wayne Wright is a New York Times (among other) bestselling author. Marion “Doc” Ford is his protagonist in a series of novels, twenty-one and counting. Randy has taken his passion for writing and the character he has developed and turned it into another business outside the writing world. I’ve been a fan of Randy for years and he is one of my writing “idols.”

Visiting his restaurant (he has three in the region) may seem like a fan’s attempt to connect with a “famous” person, but it is not. It is an inspiration. It’s a reminder of how far you can really take this thing. Walking into Doc Ford’s immerses you into the fictional world that Randy has created over the years. Imagine if you created a place for your characters outside of your books! Talk about leaving a legacy.

Most days I’ve visit Doc Ford’s, I spot Randy sitting at the bar having dinner. He sits, mostly unnoticed by the other patrons. It goes to show what it’s like being a world-class author. We would kill to have the writing career that he has had, yet hardly anyone recognizes him when he is sitting in his own restaurant.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to go there for inspiration. The rubber stamp of what is possible with our writing. I consider Randy more than an acquaintance. We always chat for a bit and many times the conversation leads to writing. Each time, I walk out of there fired up to hit the keyboard again.

The sky is truly the limit for us. Currently, Randy is working on a Doc Ford television series. It just keeps getting better. We need to keep the possibilities in front of us. Let’s not write to finish the next book, let’s write to create a whole new world. You never know what could happen. I know of an author that has an entire amusement park based on her fictional world about a boy wizard.

Why not you?

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

21 thoughts on “What’s our Ceiling?”

  1. If you can dream it, see it and feel it, then it can be. Although I am still a newbie, and probably will be considered that for quite sometime, I think beyond the book. One of my reviewers told me she thought my series should be animated. Personally I never thought about it, but since I heard Kindle will soon mix text and video my brain is burning. Our imaginations brought us here in the first place, let them loose. I always love your positive attitude, thank you for that and your post.

    1. Thanks, Aron, I appreciate the comments. I don’t consider you a newbie and you have the right attitude for sure.

      1. Well thank you kind Sir. Boy Doc Ford’s looks like a fun place and a good place to soak up the inspiration around you. I want you to check out Booktrack if you haven’t heard of it. I can hear the bat hitting the ball, you’ll see what I mean, think you’ll like it.

  2. I guess as you said at the beginning, each of us has our own definition of success. Personally, and honestly I think having an amusement park would be more of a nightmare for me. And I wonder if it isn’t to some degree for Ms. Rowling too. More is not always better.

    That overarching drive to “succeed” is what has made your country, the USA, great in so many ways, but it is not for all of us.

    I’m quite content to polish and present a coherent, entertaining and thought provoking story. That’s really all I want to do. I know that puts me at the far end of the bell curve. I’m fortunate to have a separate career that is fulfilling and provides me with an adequate living, which takes away the pressure for commercial success. The biggest thrill for me is talking one on one with readers, or a small group at a book club. That for me is true satisfaction.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, John. I don’t believe that your situation puts you at the far end of the bell curve. I believe most indie authors feel the same way as you. Most of us do have a separate career and write because we love to write.

      With that being said, for those who want to go beyond that, let’s think big!

  3. This is a great piece, brother. I don’t think anyone would want to go to Joe Cafe, but… 😉

    1. Thanks JD. Don’t underestimate what people might want to do … there are all types!

  4. Great piece, Jim. No plans to ever stop writing. One day I envision the Goldberg sisters’ Bluestone Wellness Center and Holistic Health Retreat, but I want someone else to run it so I can have a place to hide away, write, and eat Frankie’s cooking. Meanwhile, I’d better publish a few more books. 😀

    1. I’m with you on that, Laurie. If anything ever blossoms from my writing, I sure don’t want to be the one to run it. I will say, Randy Wayne White has a pretty good gig going. He just pops in and eats, drinks and writes.

    1. Elisabeth, that’s great to hear, we love it as well. Probably the best place in the world for shelling.

      1. ?? I’ve read some of his Malazan books but I had no idea that’s how they evolved! I know Tad Williams is trying to get Otherland the mmo off the ground. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. 🙂

  5. I thought about an interactive website based on the museum in SwanSong, but that’s as far as I ever got with the idea. Not sure what I could create around the concepts in the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Hmm…

    1. That’s what I love, we are always thinking of new ways to interact and give our readers what they want … just as long as we keep the books coming! Thanks, Lynne.

  6. Excellent piece. “Why not you?” is probably my favorite question; I have it on a printout taped to the wall nearest my desk (I’m not a huge fan of aphorisms and the like, but this one I’ve found to be particularly inspiring).

    Risk is freedom, and deciding that the only limits you have are self-imposed leaves the entire world open. It only started to sink in a few years ago, and I wish I’d let myself believe it much earlier in my career.

    1. Thanks, Dave. You have a great attitude and I’m sure it will and has … taken you far.

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