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The Pitfalls of Unchecked Ambition

When I came up with this title, I had no idea that the term “unchecked ambition” was so popular; I just thought I was a genius. Upon looking it up, I found its most common use was in connection with Macbeth. What does that have to do with me? Why Macbeth is one of the villains in a favorite cartoon, Gargoyles! What does that have to do with this post? Absolutely nothing.

Anyway, when I came up with Old School Evil, the books were far from the only idea I had. Sure they were the central focus of it, but I wanted to do a lot more than just write. See, before the story was written, I came up with a number of cartoons that would serve as the basis of the story. I treated them as if they were actual cartoons in this world that for one reason or another just didn’t come to fruition. That’s where the production bibles fit in.


But I didn’t want to stop there. What do most cartoons from the 80s have in common? Why, merchandising! I had an idea called Flashback Friday where I would showcase fake product tie-ins for each cartoon. Stuff like action figure prototypes, packaging mock-ups, video game screenshots; all sorts of stuff that just never hit the shelves. And would I do all of those myself? Of course, I would - because back then I wanted to do everything on my own. Just the idea of hiring someone to help make up the icons was blasphemous. If I didn’t do it all myself, I admitted I couldn’t do any of it myself.


Was I capable of doing it on my own? God no! I have some decent Photoshop, Illustrator, and 3D modeling experience from college, and I thought that was all I needed. I created some logos (which were mostly just outlines) and modeled out some toys (which were also just outlines) and they all looked pretty shit. So, I quickly gave up on that idea.


This was far from the first time I decided on a plan that I didn’t have the necessary skills for while completely underestimating the amount of work it would take to learn them. With just the minimum idea of what I needed to accomplish it, I said, “This is the thing I’m definitely going to do, and I expect to find success immediately.”


I did this before with my Prototytan Project, my Transformers fanfic. Besides writing the story that included a ton of original characters and some redesigns of existing characters, I decided I was going to 3D model a bunch of figures and sell them on Shapeways. Why? Because I saw people with much greater skill and experience than me do it. So, I started working on it, made a few weapons for some Legends scale figures, and threw them online. It didn’t get any real response, so I gave up right there.


So you can assume what happened to my Flashback Friday thing when I published Old School Evil and it wasn’t an immediate best-seller. I gave up on my modeling, especially after I bought a 3D printer and my first models fell apart. Did I take the time to calibrate my printer to make sure I got the best output? Nope. I just gave up when my prints failed, even though I didn’t bother making sure my models were printable in the first place.


Instead, I switched focus. I tried some writing samples to try to get people interested in my book - the Bad Guy Beatdown, a tournament of 18 villains to see who would come out on top. But interest was less than ideal so I gave up somewhere in the semi-finals. Who won? Fuck if I know. I think Metlar would have come out on top, but it wasn’t worth spending my time on.


The problem all these side-projects lead to is a sequel to Old School Evil taking four years. Did I learn my lesson? Hell, no. I’m working on book 3 now, but I’m still trying to figure out how to do 3D printed figures while starting some toy photography and a fucking youtube channel. And when I say trying to do all of those, I mean telling myself I should look into them. All while trying to figure out how to promote my books since sales are fucking abysmal.


Why am I telling you all this? Am I just complaining about my terrible lack of motivation? Just like before, I’ve overwhelmed myself with so many side-projects that instead of picking one to focus on, I choose to do nothing at all, not even writing the books which are supposed to be my main focus. Have I finally learned my lesson?


In an effort to do that, I’m giving up on a lot of them starting now. I’m giving up on my youtube channel idea and will forget about Blender and my 3D printer. I’m even giving up on promoting my books since I can’t figure out social media marketing to save my life. Maybe when I get some extra dough, I’ll try paying someone to do it, but I’ll never be getting more free time so I need to use what I do have on my books. You’ll notice so far I haven’t mentioned The Retro Network. That’s the only thing I plan to keep doing because it’s such an awesome community. By the way, Happy Birthday, TRN!


So, that’s what’s been going on in my head. Trying to declutter my mind, making room for my Old School Evil 3 so it doesn’t take another 4 years to release it. Now I just need to learn to focus on the story I’m writing now and not the books I’m releasing afterward…


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