It all comes down to luck, right? You always hear about models who were discovered while standing in line at the bank, or while walking the mall. Musicians share a cab with a stranger who magically turns out to be A Big Name. Spec Fiction writers happen to strike up conversations with editors of spec fic anthologies. The stars align, right?
No. Negatory. I fall to my knees and scream every time that somebody says, “Oh, you’re so lucky!” to another person. What does luck have to do with it? Not much. (In fact, I wrote about my feelings on the matter in an earlier post. We make our own luck, yes?) But we can help our “luck’ along. We can be at the right place at the right time.
“Oh great,” you say, rolling your beautiful eyes. “Now we have to be psychic in order to get published?”
Well, that would help. You’d get your own TV show and then suddenly everybody would be clamoring for your first book. But what about the rest of us? What does “be at the right place at the right time” mean?
It translates into BE PREPARED. These opportunities are going to come to you, and what are you going to do with them? When the model was approached by the agent, did she demure and say, “But I’m hideous today. I don’t think I’ll come in, thanks.” How will the The Big Name know that you’re a musician if you sit side-by-side in silence? If you don’t tell that editor that you write spec fic, it’s never going to cross her mind that she should ask you to submit something to her anthology.
I’m not a brave girl. I’m actually quite reticent and I get very nervous outside of my comfort zone. But for three years running, my goal has been To Do Scary Things, and I’ve tried my best to adhere to that. When a one line pitch contest came up, I jumped onto it the second that I learned about it, literally. That’s how I met the judge who later became my agent. I joined my first forum and put myself out there. That’s how I became a member of the Shock Totem staff. I was encouraged by said staff to conduct author interviews, which terrified me more than I can say, but was a wonderful experience. Now I have there more interviews lined up with very cool, very exciting writers.
That’s where our “luck” comes from. It means seeing an opportunity and being brave enough to take it. If you’re unfamiliar with something, learn. Learn to do book reviews if somebody asks you. Always have a pitch ready. Work on your query letters. Be brave, and let yourself and your work shine. You deserve it.
Mercedes, we do make our own luck and we do have to self-promote if we want to be known. We have to take that leap of faith. Some of us are ready for it and some of us aren’t. I know that I am intentionally holding back in a lot of ways. I communicate with other writers. I blog about writing and other things. I have my toe in the water but I am not ready to dive in yet, but I KNOW that. I KNOW what I am doing and while I feel twinges when I see someone excelling when I am still treading water, I know I am not swimming yet so I am just happy for them and work where I am comfortable knowing that when the time is right for me I will start to be “out there.” In the meantime, I keep writing and honing my craft one word at a time.
Great post, Merc!
I am a firm believer in being prepared. You never know what’s going to happen or who you’re going to meet from day to day. If I talk about writing, which I do a lot, and someone says, “Hey, can I see some of your work.”
I’m like “Sure, just go to my website, I have some samples posted there.”
I’m always trying to do new things from blogging, to Vlogging, podcasts, screencasts, interviews, writing group conference calls, and many other things.
I believe that you have to be ready to lay out your ideas, where you want to go, what you want to do, what’s your vision, at a moments notice if an opportunity presents itself.
Great post, Merc!
Yes, yes, and yes. All over with a yes.
Also, let’s not forget that social networking and a little chutzpah will help you make your own luck. You never know whom you’re going to run in to on the tinterwebs, ne?
Well said, good lady.
Good for you for putting yourself out there. It’s not easy when you’re not naturally outgoing (says the introvert), but it definitely pays off. Great post!
No lie. And what you’re too nice to say is that it’s actually insulting for someone to imply that “good things are finally happening for you!” or “your luck is finally in!”
Nope. How about you worked. Hard.
Really great post. I’m constantly reminded of that saying, “Luck is where opportunity meets preparation.” When you work hard at your writing, it’s tough not to feel like, OK, I’m prepared — now where’s my opportunity?! But like you pointed out, it does require some action. A query I don’t send is not going to get assigned. Thanks for the reminder.