If there’s one thing that I don’t have, it’s luck. Or I do have luck, but it’s usually terrible, black luck, so I simply choose to ignore it. But when it comes to writing, you hear it all of the time: A lot of things depend on luck. You run across the right agent at the right time. The editor of a magazine just divorced his wife and you send in a domestic revenge story. The stars align correctly, the universe spins, and goodness falls into your lap. You lucky dog.
I’m not sure that I buy it. Luck didn’t write that story. Luck didn’t get it sent in. Hard work and discipline did. There are those glorious days where you wake up with a story flowing through you, and it burns itself onto the page with hardly any effort. But those days are so exceptionally rare, and I don’t think non-writers, or even those who merely dabble in writing understand that. Most days writing is a struggle. It takes prioritizing. It takes strength of will. Turning away from enticing things in order to stare at a computer or notebook isn’t easy. That’s not luck. That’s work.
I get very unhappy when somebody says to me, “Oh, I heard about getting published in such and such. You’re so lucky. I wish that I was as lucky.”
Lucky? Really? I’m new to publishing, sure, but I’ve been writing since I was a kid. While this person is going to dinner, drinking with friends, and complaining about their lack of luck, I’m researching markets. I’m editing again and again. And you call that luck?
So at KillerCon (Yay, KillerCon!) we had a chance to pitch our novels to several agents. Did I sign up for this opportunity? No, because I got all lightheaded just thinking about it. Too intimidating. Too scary. Next year. But Kurt Newton and L.L. Soares were pitching, so I went to support them. Some authors didn’t show up to make their pitches, and so there were two surprise openings. The first opening was snapped up, and while that author was pitching, there was some talk about me hopping into the second slot. It took a lot of prodding from Kurt, a “Don’t be scared of people, they’re no better than you” speech by L.L. and a few deep breaths before I was coherent enough to do it, but I pitched. Three times, in fact, and there was some interest. Of course, in order to make all three pitches, I hung around for two hours just in case other people didn’t show up. Thankfully for me, people were hungover/missing/confused/gambling and I jumped into their slot. Was this luck? Maybe. But it was also determination (a little bullying from friends) and tenacity. There were a lot of things that I could have been doing instead of hanging around the pitch room. (Like, uh, lunch.) But tell me it’s luck again and I’ll break your neck. I created my own luck.