In our last thrill-packed adventure, in the context of “It’s Who You Know”, I made mention of an immensely more determinative contributor to ultimate and enduring success in the writing business, (and I imagine in other businesses as well.)
I said you had to have “The Goods.”
Today, let us further examine that commodity.
“How do you know if you have ‘The Goods’?”
Not so fast.
You wrote that.
I was talking to myself.
The first step is to evaluate what exactly “The Goods” are. Because if you don’t know what they are, how can you possibly know if you have them?
This condition of having “The Goods” precedes “and then you develop it through training and experience.” Why does it precede it? Because if you don’t have at least a critical mass amount of “The Goods”, you’ve got nothing to develop. That subsequent issue is for a later, or possibly a “never” discussion. Because the reality of that issue is a “Duh.”
Can you get better at doing something? Of course you can, end of story. A “Two”, through practice and determination, can matriculate to a “Four” or a “Five.” (That’s me and dancing. If I practiced for fifty years.) But if you start – most likely genetically – with a “Goods Level” of a “Six” or a “Seven”, and then you work your butt off honing it… now we’re talking impressive and highly marketable “Goods.”
The question is: These “ Goods.” What the heck are they?”
And here it gets complicated. (By which I mean subjective. By which I mean I could be entirely wrong about this. Though when has that ever stopped me before?)
To me, “The Goods” is an appealing recipe which, when dished up, meets with
the positive – and if you’re lucky, the overwhelmingly positive – approval of the audience, hopefully a “mass” audience, though “passionately niche” will equally suffice.
If you are – through no fault of your own – absent that appealing recipe – no connections (“It’s who you know”), determination, or ingeniously calculated “Master Plan” will reliably deliver you to the Promised Land. (Success, in whatever form it is defined.)
Everything relies on that recipe. The question then arises, “What if the recipe’s for something people aren’t that crazy about?”
Say I’m the target audience. You can prepare a gourmet offering of Indian food, using the most carefully selected ingredients, blended in the most precisely calibrated proportions, cooking the concoction to classical Indian food perfection, and I will still by far prefer a gluten-free pizza.
“The Goods” then is a matter of taste. And always will be. With today’s more fractionalized audience, there are a potentially greater variety of palates to win over, but you have to please somebody, or your recipe, as magnificently as it has been assembled – sad to say, and unfair as it might be – well…“The Goods” pleasing an insufficiently numerous audience is definitionally not “The Goods.”
You can be the culinary “Wizard of Entrails”, and you will still need a reliable source of outside income.
Now, though I can easily imagine, for example, an inter-generational “Funny Fraternity, identification of “The Goods” is the opposite of static.
The captivating recipe known generically as “The Goods” is continually mutating, as reflected by every over-the-hill has-been as well as those, sadly, gifted “before their timers.” If your recipe does not satisfy currently calibrated taste buds, you are either redundantly “out of the business” (because what once “hit the spot” no longer does) or you may possibly never participate (because your “time”, at least in your lifetime, never ultimately arrived.)
Besides historical timing, there is also technological timing. Imagine where the successful cable comedies (South Park, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Chappelle Show, etc.) would run if there were no such thing as cable. The answer is: (I would love to write this upside down, like they do in magazine quizzes, but I can’t): Nowhere. (Maybe I’ll write it backwards: Erehwon. Nah, that’s not as good. Though it is the name of a Canadian summer camp.)
Now I am not a single-factor zealot, selling “The Goods” alone as the necessary ticket to the “Big Time.” Is “The Goods” alone the necessary ticket to the “Big Time.” Yes, they are. The caveat (before you say, “You just contradicted yourself) is that “The Goods” on their own are not in any way sufficient.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK.
“Are you the guy with that spectacular recipe?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Well, congratulations. Here’s your ‘Ticket to Big Time’.”
“Wait a minute. I’ll get my coat.”
And off you go to immeasurable Fame and Fortune.
It does not work that way. Unfortunately (for the chronically unaggressive), at least a minimal effort is required. (And usually more.) You cannot simply sit there harboring “The Goods”, awaiting “Opportunity” to somehow telepathically find out about you and physically extract you from your home. (Although I have to say I came pretty darn close.)
“The Goods” is the indispensible starting point. After that, however, the other elements make their ancillary but significant contributions. Connections. Determination. Strategic Master Plans. (“We have the same urologist. I could slip my ‘pertinent information’ in his ‘pee bottle.’ I know. I’m crazy. But what have I got to lose?”)
How do you know you’ve got “The Goods”?
There is only one way to find out. You put your recipe out there and you say,
If they go “Yum!”, you are on your way.
And if they make a face…
There is always Law School.