Ya Gotta Wanna

“Ya gotta wanna,” isn’t exactly what you’d expect from a highly achieved man’s mouth. However, that’s exactly what multi-billionaire Jim Pattison said when asked for his key to success.

Jimmy, as Mr. Pattison is affectionally known around his home city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is the self-made, sole owner of the Jim Pattison Group. It’s a diverse empire employing 48,000 people in businesses like supermarkets, soft drink manufacturing, auto dealing, forestry, fishing, magazines, outdoor advertising, and theme parks. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and The Guinness Book Of Records are two Pattison holdings. Forbes lists the 93-year-old’s personal net worth at $10.2 billion.

Jim Pattison

Jimmy Pattison is a philanthropist. He’s donated millions of dollars to hundreds of causes, yet the most valuable give-away he has is business guidance to others. I believe writers, like us, can learn from folks like Jimmy Pattison. Here’s an expansion of his “you gotta wanna” quote:

At the end of the day, you have to want it. You have to have a deep desire to keep moving forward in the face of opposition. You have to have fire in your belly that keeps you focused on the task at hand and on the goal ahead so you don’t give up. If we don’t have passion to persevere, we will not succeed. Those who don’t ‘wanna’ end up giving up. And remember, failure isn’t falling down. It’s refusing to get back up again.”

I’ve never met Jimmy Pattison, but I’d have to say he’s a mentor. So is Napoleon Hill (long deceased) who authored Think And Grow Rich—one of the most influential self help books of all time. One of Napoleon Hill’s seventeen success principles is having a definite purpose backed by a burning desire to achieve it. It’s a guiding force driving my current WIP.

My definite purpose—my wanna—is creating the series titled City Of Danger. It’s a concept long brewing in my mind but activated by a chance opportunity with the film industry. I committed to City Of Danger on April 7, 2021 and steadily worked on developing it for the last ten months. I expect the pilot episode releasing this summer.

Regardless if this project gets green lit on screen, I’m retaining ebook, print, audio, and foreign translation rights. To give you an idea of the concept, the logline is A modern city in crisis enlists two private detectives from its 1920s past to dispense street justice and restore social order. You can read a bit more about City Of Danger on my website.

When I started the project, I realized I knew little to nothing about the film industry—at least not about content production. I immersed in screenwriting lessons, and the best value I got was from an online course called Immersed In Story with tutor Anne Helmstadter. If you check out Anne’s home page, you’ll see a testimonial I did for her.

This screenwriting course was the best money and time investment I could have made when I started City Of Danger. At the course’s opening, Anne had me write out why I wanted to create this series. Writing out my definite purpose—my burning desire—gave me the clarity and motivation to keep moving forward. Call it my gotta wanna spirit.

I read this affirmation every day. It’s very personal, but I’d like to share it with others here at the Kill Zone so my ongoing experience can possibly benefit others. Here goes:

Motivation for Writing City Of Danger Series

What’s old is new again. I believe there’s a resurgence coming in hardboiled detective crime fiction. I see this as the right timing for a leading-edge product that capitalizes on successful series like The Wire, Dragnet, etc. as well on diverse HB storytellers like Leonard, Spillane, Hammett, Chandler, Paretsky, and Connelly. Yet, this takes an entirely new approach in blending the 1920s and the 2020s. I see this as a niche-base market for episodal ebooks, print, video streaming, and audio with a large audience resonance.

I’m writing City Of Danger for these reasons:

  1. Financial — I want to make decent money from this project.
  2. Sense of Purpose — I want to be creative and constantly moving.
  3. Sense of Accomplishment — I want to have something to show from this. (A social statement.)
  4. Recognition — I want my family, friends, fellow writers, and audience to know.
  5. Learning — I want to learn from this and take my craft to the next level.
  6. Opportunity — I want this project to lead me to new and influential people.
  7. Legacy — I want to leave something behind that others can enjoy and benefit from.

In summation, City Of Danger is about creating a unique and valuable consumer product that I can enjoy building and be compensated for in these seven ways.

I want to create this.

Garry Rodgers

April 7, 2021

How about you Kill Zoners? How badly do you want what you’re pursuing? Have you written an affirmation? Have you defined “success” for yourself?

I trust your want includes family, friends, faith, your contribution to the community, and your purpose in life—and isn’t just about money. But however you define success, you gotta wanna.


Garry Rodgers is a retired homicide detective with a second career as a coroner. In all, Garry has over three decades in the human death investigation business. Now, he’s reinvented himself as a crime writer and indie publisher who’s experimenting in other storytelling mediums.

Vancouver Island is home to Garry Rodgers where he spends a lot of time cruising the Pacific saltwater. While he’s never seen Jimmy Pattison in person, he’s been broadside the Pattison yacht, Nova Spirit, many times.

Jim Pattison’s Nova Spirit

26 thoughts on “Ya Gotta Wanna

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Garry. Good luck with City of Danger. I agree…there’s a resurgence coming in hard-boiled detective crime fiction. You might even jumpstart it. Be sure to let us know how things progress.

    Re: the film industry…you know you’re ready if you can pile one hundred thousand dollars on the floor, set fire to it, and resist the temptation to stamp it out.

    Oh…and if you need an elderly character actor who will show up on set sober, on time, suited, booted, and ready to work, let me know. I’ll find someone like that and send him your way! 🙂

    • I’ll keep you in mind, Joe. Sounds like finding good help these days is hard to come by. By the way, bring the 100K and I’ll bring the lighter 🙂

  2. Hey, Garry, when I saw the photo at the end of this post, my first thought was “Oh, good, Garry’s gonna take the gang from TKZ for a cruise on his yacht.” Imagine my disappointment when I realized it wasn’t YOUR yacht.

    Eagerly awaiting CITY OF DANGER. I’m a big fan of hardboiled and your concept is terrific. Wishing you enough success with it that you could wind up buying that yacht from Jimmy! You definitely have the “gotta wanna.”

  3. My yacht is a little shorter and lower than Jimmy’s, Debbie. See that first superstructure upright to the right of the stern. It’s somewhere around that length but you and the KZers are welcome aboard any time.

  4. Garry, back when I was just starting the journey (and wondering if I had what it takes) I read a great craft book by the mystery writer Phyllis Whitney, in which she says: “You must want it enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft—then you can add all the genius you like.”

    I copied that sentiment and looked at it many times over the years. Of course, motivational axioms are not any good unless accompanied by action. So to the “wanna” let’s add the “hafta”…you hafta pay the price, you hafta study, you hafta write (preferably each day), you hafta keep going when you’re knocked back, you hafta take risks.

    You don’t hafta buy a yacht but hey…you never can tell.

    • Excellent point about the “hafta”, Jim. All the best intentions, wants, dreams, and hopes are worthless unless there’s action. Like you say, let’s add the “hafta”…you hafta pay the price, you hafta study, you hafta write (preferably each day), you hafta keep going when you’re knocked back, you hafta take risks.

      Speaking of buying a yacht, can you imaginer the operating costs of the Nova Spirit? Gotta sell a lot of books to run that sucker.

  5. No truer words for writers than “You gotta wanna.” Show up every day, work hard, get back up when you fall, and the opportunities will come. I heard an excellent quote the other day. “Bleeding is easy. Sweating is hard.” Sidney Poitier

  6. Great post, Garry. Your exercise in writing out the motivation for starting a project would be a good exercise for all of us at the beginning of starting a book or a series. And, adding some actual steps of how we plan to accomplish our goal(s) wouldn’t hurt.

    Good luck with your City of Danger project! Keep us updated.

    • Good morning, Steve, and thanks for the well wishes. I find writing down goals is helpful to keep on track. I did a business plan for this venture which I’m treating as a business on its own – outside my regular stuff. Looking at my written goals this morning, I see I’m a month behind – but my goals might have been rather optimistic when set.

  7. Congratulations on City of Danger, Garry! I’m looking forward to seeing your name in lights.

    I like the way you’ve documented your motivation for writing. I haven’t written an affirmation, but I’ve said it so often it’s wired in my brain: I want to write books that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, and I want my family to be proud of my works. Those are the two most important factors – everything else hangs on them. You’ve made me realize I need to write this and put it on my wall – which I am getting ready to do now. Thanks!

    And do let us know when you get that yacht. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kay. I first need to find a trailer big enough to haul the Nova Spirit around. Kidding aside, I find writing down goals, affirmations, whatever you might want to set out, to be helpful. It’s a good way to hold yourself accountable and get ‘er done 🙂

  8. Good morning, Garry! Truly, you gotta wanna if you’re going to be in the writing and publishing business. Call it the law of attraction, call it putting your energy into where you want to go, call it simply focusing on a course of action and doing your damndest to make it happen, but that’s clearly what you’re doing with City of Danger. I’m really looking forward to it.

    Moreover, I really appreciate you going the extra mile and sharing your affirmation/motivation as well as your reasons for undertaking this writing project.

    You inspired me to do likewise this morning, and write down the motivation and reasons that have been rattling around in my own head since the summer of 2020. (I’ve learned that switching genres is harder than it looks 🙂

    FWIW, here’s my own affirmation and reasons:

    Motivation for writing the Meg Booker Librarian Mysteries series:
    Libraries were e far more than just places where books were warehoused. They were places where people come together, and communities were formed. I want to show the people who worked there, the spectrum of people who visited, and the die-hards who hang out there, through the lens of cozy mysteries. I want to show the essential goodness of people even as they grapple with the evil in a few. I want to create a compelling, enjoyable, engaging library mystery series from my experiences working there, beginning in the 1980s and showing how they were and what they became.

    I’m writing Meg Booker Librarian Mysteries for these reasons:
    1. Desire: I want to show the library as it and the community that inhabited it.
    2. Passion: I enjoy mystery stories and want to create my own.
    3. Craft: I want to improve my storytelling through the context of crafting engaging and fun stories
    4. Connection: I want to connect with readers through essential goodness of cozy mystery
    5. Financial: I want to make money from publishing cozy mysteries
    6. Legacy: I want to leave this series and the stories and world for others to discover.

    I’ll keep refining the affirmation, but that’s essentially it, and these are the reasons why I’m doing it.

    Thanks for an even more inspiring post than usual! Keep on having great days!

    • This is a very thoughtful and emotional affirmation you’ve written, Dale. I know you are developing the series but this gives me (and others) real clarity into what the series entails and your thought processes going into it. You definitely wanna do this. Way to go!

  9. For most of us, money is a nice extra once we figure out how unlikely even making a living wage is. Our “wanna” can vary from the pleasure of writing to accolades for our books to a life-changing connection between our writing and our readers.

    I’ve enjoyed all three, but my biggest writing high was fan letters telling me that my book got them through sitting by a loved one’s death bed or their own health scare.

  10. I learn so much here at TKZ, particularly in the TKZ library. Every day’s like a new day at school.

    I thought about this for a few minutes and I reconfigured it as a set of questions that I can ask myself every couple of days to ground myself in the pursuit of craft skills.

    Each one to have, say, three answers.

    1) Why do I want to write?
    2)What am I willing to give up for it?
    3) What do I get from it?
    4) What are my wellsprings of inspiration?
    5) Where do my ideas come from?
    5) How do I deal with criticism and rejection?

    Thank you all, zen masters.

  11. Great to have you here, Robert. I think everyone at TKZ – contributors, commenters, and lurkers – agree that we all lean something every day at this site.

  12. This is a great post, and reading through the responses, they seem to be equally awesome. You all are inspiring and make that “wanna” even stronger. Thanks and have a great weekend.

  13. Whoohoo! Full steam ahead,,Garry! (That’s for the City of Danger project, not the yacht! Haha!)

    Seriously though, that’s amazing. Are you detailing any of the journey in your blog? I would love to know more about this “chance encounter” with the film industry. Definitely a story there.

    And I’m thrilled that you’re retaining all creative rights. That’s always been a hot topic for me, ever since Anne Rice had to watch a certain actor portray her beloved character, Lestat.
    Evidently, the winds have since changed favorably for creative artists and their rights. I’d love to know about your own effort in retaining yours: a breeze, or Herculean?

    20s meets 20s. I don’t know how you’re going to do it, but, man, I hope City of Danger sees air-time. And that it’s on a service I can access. I agree that hardboiled detective fiction has a chance at a comeback. Even the seriously sci-fi drama, The Expanse, had such a character, and he was fantastic!

    • Thanks, Cyn! It is full speed ahead on my part but, ultimately, what happens on the film end is beyond my control except to feed them content. In the initial discussions, which happened as a result of another non-scripted project I’m involved in, I brought up the rights subject and said that regardless of where this went on the screen I was still going to produce it in ebook form. I expected resistance but they were not at all interested in any rights but the film end. This is opposite of what I’d expect in the agent/traditional publishing world where they’d want the full meal deal of rights.

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