Monday, June 24, 2013

Follow Your Dreams Interview with... My Dad!

Let me tell you a little bit about my Dad, Rick Higginson. In addition to bearing half the responsibility for bringing me into this world, he's probably about 90% responsible for the fact that I'm a writer (my Mom was in charge of my schooling, but Dad eventually took over my vocabulary and creative writing assignments, and he surely gave me a genetic predisposition towards story telling). While I have put my fiction writing on the back burner to focus on my dream of being a professional dancer, my Dad has fully embraced his inner author and is self-publishing his Christian science fiction stories. It's not easy to be a niche author, so I'm very proud of him for writing the stories he wants to tell for the audience that wants to read them. If you'd like to learn more about him, visit his blog, Pod Tales and Ponderings.

By the way, I wanted to run this LAST week in honor of Father's Day, but I've been so caught up in troupe costume madness that I didn't e-mail him until that Saturday. So Happy Belated Father's Day, Dad! Thank you for taking the time to share your dream with my readers! And now, on with the interview!

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your dream.

I'm Rick Higginson, and I'm pursuing my dream of being a writer.
When did you decide to follow your dream? What pushed you to do it? 
I've wanted to follow it since I was a teen, but I think what really shifted me from the "someday" mode to the "get with it" mode was the options that are now available to writers, that we did not have thirty years ago. The "push," if you will, was simply that drive that comes from the characters becoming real to me.
There's a lot of debate in the writing community about traditional publishing versus self-publishing versus ebooks. What made you choose self-publishing? 
One of the determining factors was that "Cardan's Pod" had first run as a serialized novel on Collector Times. As such, the only way I would ever get a traditional publisher to consider it, is if it were already selling enough copies to make good business sense to them to pick it up. Few traditional publishers will even consider something that has been "previously published," regardless of the previous format. Self-publishing allowed me to get the book finalized and into print, and to start building a readership.
You recently had a Kickstarter to fund the editing and printing of your second novel, Marta's Pod. Would you recommend crowd-sourcing to other aspiring authors?
It is definitely a viable option to cover the various expenses of taking a manuscript from the revision stage to the finalized, published product. The costs of the various steps needed can add up to quite a sum (editing alone for "Marta's Pod" is going to be about $950, and it is worth every penny), and many new authors just don't have the extra money lying around. Crowd-sourcing allows for family, friends, and even complete strangers, to partner with the author in getting the book into print.

What was the hardest part of following your dream?
Accepting that very few writers actually make a living at it. This is the kind of dream one must pursue out of love for the art, and not out of a promise of a lucrative career. Some writers make very good money, but like most arts, those that do are a very small minority.

When you told people about your dream, what sort of reaction did you get? Did that affect your decision to do it anyway?
The reaction when I was young was very much the above information. What really affected my decision to postpone pursuing the dream, was meeting author Richard Armour back in High School. He advised a group of us aspiring young writers to keep the day job, and write for the love of writing. He commented about how the pressures of the deadlines and the need for a paycheck can quickly destroy our love of the art, until it becomes just another job.

Was there a point where you wanted to just give up? If so, what inspired you to keep going?
There was a long stretch where I all but resigned myself to the idea that writing was just a pipe dream. I think what kept me going is the same thing that keeps many fiction writers going - my characters just wouldn't go away. I've heard some writers complain about "writer's block," but honestly, I think I have the opposite problem. I don't seem to be able to block my characters out.
You wrote one book when I was very young, and then started writing again when I was an adult. I don't remember you really writing during my childhood -- what inspired you to start writing again?
Actually, there were several times during those years when I made some false starts on several stories, and just never got very far with them. The original idea for "Cardan's Pod" actually dates back to about 1993, and it wasn't long after that I knew the basics of how the story would begin and how I wanted it to end, but there was just a gap there I couldn't quite fill. It wasn't until about 2004 that the "keystone" scene occurred to me, and then I couldn't write it fast enough. That was what it took to kickstart my writing again.
Your work has some religious themes to it and you were recently invited to participate on some panels at the upcoming Faith Writers conference in Portland Oregon. Would you like to tell my readers a bit about the conference?
Well, since this is my first time at the Conference, I only have a general idea what to expect. However, the Faithwriters Conferences are geared towards encouraging Christian writers, and offering them workshops on different aspects of both the art side and the business side of writing. Since, so far, I'm much better at writing books than I am at being a salesman, I'm looking forward to the workshops on marketing aspects.

Any parting words of advice for those who are hesitating to follow their dreams?

I love this quote from John Barrymore. "A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams." If we pursue our dreams, and they don't work out the way we'd hoped, then at least we gave it a shot. If we just assume it won't work out, though, we're going to reach the end of our lives steeped in regret and wondering, "what if?" We don't always have to abandon a steady job to pursue a dream. We may have to be creative to find ways to integrate our dreams into the everyday realities and responsibilities we live with, but life is too short to just accept defeat without ever facing the challenge.

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