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.
You have indeed created your own luck.
People always say, “oh you write? Gosh that’d be nice”.
It’s not nice. it’s commitment and will. I haven’t yet been published, but I know that it will take me a hundred rejection letters before i get to that stage.
So thanks for the poke in the ribs here mate, a nice reminder that none of us are alone out here staring at our notebooks.
I’m so glad you got to pitch your novel, and that Killercon went well. Congratulations. I am proud to say I have an author for a friend, and i know you work hard to be the best you can at whatever you do.
Friends bullying you into doing something you’re scared crapless to do…sounds like good friends to me!
You are so much braver than me! I’d have died rather than pitch to an agent in, you know, real life.
You’re definitely right about luck. We make our own luck, for the most part. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if by some chance alignment of the stars, your killer manuscript ends up in front of the editor who is perfect for it rather than the editor who really wouldn’t be all that interested. But all the luck in the world won’t help if your manuscript isn’t fantastic to start with.
A standing ovation from the seats at this end. Marvellous post. And congrats to you for pitching. I’ve always thought I wouldn’t have the nerve, but reading your post made me think I should stop whining and step up to the plate if I ever get the opportunity.
Amen! You are tenacious and it’s awesome!
Brave Mercedes. You make us proud.
You, my dear, are awesome! Luck nothing, it takes skill and determination to see an opportunity and take it like that! Of course if you beat me in the challenge, THAT will be luck.
Nice work. I’ll be interested to get the full rundown on what happened when you get time!
Blasphemer! It’s all luck I tell you! No one else has a chance, only lucky people!
Seriously, though, if you rearrange M.E.R.C.E.D.E.S. it spells SHARK! Watch out people!
Love the picture — it’s so you! Go get ’em.
Great comment, Littlegirl. I wish you had linked back to your blog so I could visit it! 😀
Thanks, Natalie. !!! I forgot to call you today! Sorry!
Alan, I remember the first time that I was bullied into cliff diving. Now that was just awesome.
KC, I thought I was going to throw up on my own shoes. I’m not kidding. I wouldn’t have done it without the push.
Cate, you would do a fantastic pitch and they’d be slavering at your feet in seconds. I foresee it.
And that’s how we survived elementary and Junior High, Nisa. Don’t think I’ve forgotten all of the schoolyard bullies.
Thanks, Aaron. That really makes me happy! 🙂
Yeah, I’m coming up short on the HWA word count. But while your back was turned, I slid into the SFWA as an associate member! Bwa ha ha!
And if you rearrange K.U.R.T.N.E.W.T.O.N. you get “Inhuman Belongs To Mercedes”!
Thanks, Laura. Rock on!
ah! of course. sorry.
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