Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What does it take to get noticed?

Ever heard of Angry Birds? So have I, but I didn't know until yesterday what it actually was. Yeah, I'm a little behind, I know.

I've seen the merchandise -- the t-shirts and pez dispensers and whatnot that we sell at work. I assumed it was some sort of new cartoon or something, but I was informed tonight at a Christmas party that it's actually a game. The objective is to launch a bird via a slingshot onto pigs and knock the pigs over. Because apparently, pigs are bad.

Well, not all bad. (source)

This game was made by a software company that had several other games out at the time. None of them had made much money, but this one, for some reason, took off.

Funny how that works, isn't it? People spend hour after sweat-inducing hour perfecting their arts, crafting the Great American Novel or a beautiful painting, and it goes largely unnoticed. A software company creates a game that lets you throw birds at pigs, and they rake in the millions.

I recently ran across a review of Hush, Hush, a book I read a few months ago. The book is the first in a series of four (the last of which I haven't read yet), and is little more than a rehashing of Twilight using fallen angels instead of vampires. Our heroine, Nora, falls for Patch, a mysterious new boy in her biology class whose behavior is so stalkerish he actually makes Edward Cullen look sane. The book uses adverbs like they're going out of style, the action is simultaneously predictable and nonsensical, and the romance is so syrupy sweet, I could practically feel my blood sugar spiking as I read.

So I stopped reading after the first book, right? Nope. I snatched them up like wildfire and could not put them down. Meanwhile, my dad's copy of Crime and Punishment is still sitting on my bookshelf, untouched for several months, with a bookmark still stuck at the beginning of chapter 3.

It doesn't take a lot to interest people these days. YouTube videos of people doing stupid, crazy stunts, ranting about something they don't like, or even covering popular songs can all rack up hundreds of thousands of views. But the downside to this is that hundreds of thousands of people are now posting these videos, leaving the internet saturated with zillions of teens strumming guitars or bitching about the latest episode of The Walking Dead.

I mean, did you see those zombies at the end? They weren't even decaying! (source)

So what can people do to stand out from the crowd? If I knew the answer to that question, I would probably be writing full time by now. But I'll still take a stab at it.

First and foremost, you have to love what you do. You can't have a hidden agenda, or try too hard to get your name out there. You have to try, of course, and hard. But not too hard. And if you don't have a genuine passion for what you're writing/singing/bitching about, people will see right through it.

But the second thing you have to do is to work hard. Work hard, but don't try hard. Got it?

The third element -- and this is a pretty huge part of it -- is luck. Luck is something out of your control, so you can't really worry about it.

The fourth and perhaps most important thing for making a name for yourself is persistence. Remember those Angry Birds creators who kept creating games until one got popular? You have to keep on keeping on. Study your craft, learn from others (both what to do and what not to do) and keep on climbing. If you really want to do something, you'll keep going at it until you get there.

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