Persistence …and Isaac Asimov

Great science fiction writer and persistor.

In a second hand bookshop I stumbled upon a three book collection of Isaac Asimov’s First Orbits. It’s a collection of his early science fiction works with commentary in between each story with biographical details of how the pieces came to be with an evaluation of each work.  As I began reading, it seemed like the perfect choice over the New Year as it charts his “eleven years of trying” as he attempts to make a living at writing. What struck me was the methodical persistence he set about this task as if he were training to be any other profession. He spent time writing and submitting his work for sale to magazines. If a piece was rejected he would try and sell it elsewhere and if he couldn’t shift it, he moved on to writing a new piece.

There is something refreshing and inspiring reading about someone who didn’t wait for luck to seek him out, but sought opportunities persistently and resiliently. Not each piece he wrote was brilliant or earth shattering, but sometimes they were good enough and someone would buy them.

Asimov did what he loved, but actively promoted himself and his work. Was it just a case of keeping going until something stuck? Or was it his talent alone that saw him as one of the most successful science fiction writers of his time? Or a mixture of both?

Does this also translate to business ventures I wonder. Do you need to be able to produce brilliant and original ideas, or just have the stamina to promote and carry your idea to the paying people?

It has certainly given me much food for thought.

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Dreaming big when starting small

Look after those big ideas and grow them

Last Wednesday I attended the £5 app meet at the Werks. I was drawn by the idea that great on line applications and businesses can be built with resistance and passion and not necessarily millions of pounds.  The main showcase for the evening was a new interactive text based adventure from the Guardian presented by Aleks Krotoski and Barry Tucker called “SpaceShip”.

SpaceShip was mostly a labour of love which then strengthened the creators’ connection to the online gaming community of the Guardian. I’m fascinated by the idea of building successful businesses out of ideas which can be developed using not a huge amount of time and resource but a lot of passion and drive.

Why is it that some small starts grow exponentially whereas some big ideas have difficulty sustaining the first few hurdles?

This is very much on my mind as I branch out onto my own. What makes some people want to start a business that will keep ticking over for years to come and those who are looking to grow, expand quickly and lunge for the big sell?

Is it just a case of persistence beating resistance? Or are some people much more skilled at seeking the right opportunity at the right time?

I suppose I am happier to believe that it is mostly blood sweat and tears, but if it requires some other x-factor that you may or may not have, or flukey timing then it’s much more scary to believe the business you have nurtured and are passionate about, regardless of how hard you work on it might never even work.

Is that what stops a lot of people working for themselves?