What's Luck Got to Do With It?
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. --Ralph Waldo Emerson
This quote made me think about the struggle to become published and how often we attribute luck to being a big factor in whether we sell our work. I do believe luck is a factor, but it's a smaller one than many people realize. We have lots of control over how much of our success is determined by luck and how much of it is determined by our own actions.
What I mean is, sometimes authors happen to be at the right place at the right time with the right book, and great things happen to their careers. People tend to call that luck. But that's dismissing the hard work and talent that went into writing the book and the work that went into putting the book in the right place at the right time.
Luck may have been a factor (say, if you happen to be writing great paranormal novels today, when the market is hot for them, instead of ten years ago when no one wanted them), but it does the author a disservice to focus on it. Even in the example of writing paranormal, we could eliminate the luck factor to a large extent by saying that if anyone chose to persist in writing paranormal books when the market for them was dead, they were creating their own bad luck, and if they were smart enough to jump on their passion for vampires when the market was on the upswing, then they made a smart business move.
I can think of one author whose career took off in a huge way a few years ago, and lots of people said she'd just gotten lucky. What really happened though was that she was a smart, talented woman who wrote for years and years, paid her dues, kept her eye out for opportunities, wrote the best books she could, and when she spotted what had the potential to be a huge opportunity, she worked as hard as she could to get it, and then she made the most of it.
Was that luck? No. It might look like luck on the surface, but it was really hard work and dedication and good business sense.
The authors who keep writing and keep improving and keep learning from their mistakes and keep sending their work out as much as they can are the ones who sell. If you find yourself frustrated that you aren't making progress, then you may need to take a hard look and what you're doing and assess what you might be doing wrong. If you can't figure out on your own, recruit the help of a trusted friend to offer their brutally honest opinion.
Don't succumb to writing it all off as luck (or lack thereof). We don't have the fates of our careers totally within our control, but we can control the most important thing--the writing itself.
Help Me Out Here
I have to finish up my cover art suggestions for my November book today. The book's title is Sex Bomb, (hee hee--I love that title), and I need ideas for cover images. I'm brain-dead thanks to my current work in progress.
So help! If you come up with a cover image idea that I end up using as one of my suggestions, I'll mention your name in the book's dedication. I get to suggest three cover ideas, so potentially there could be three names mentioned. The catch is that you have to give your ideas to me here in the blog comments section by the end of today, which I know isn't much notice.
Here's a little about the story: The heroine is a makeup artist by day who secretly longs for a life of excitement and intrigue. When an operative from a secret crime-fighting organization called The Enforcers crawls through her window one night, ties her up, and tells her that if she helps him find her criminal father, she'll have a chance at becoming an Enforcer herself, she accepts the challenge, while secretly planning to seduce him so that she can protect her father from being captured. She figures sex is the one weapon every woman knows how to wield better than a man. Or something like that.
Cindy's New Short Story and More, More, More
Our own beloved Cindy had a fun new short story released today online, Deceiving Derek. Check it out!
In other news, I have a book due in two weeks and have entered the "I'm a foul-spirited zombie who can think of nothing but my work in progress" stage of creativity. Beware.
I got a copy of my April release, Sex As a Second Language, in the mail this week (it was supposed to be two boxes full, but instead, they accidentally sent me one of my books and a whole buttload of another author's). The dedication reads, "To The Naked Page People, for hanging out on my blog and listening to me whine incessantly."
What's everyone doing for the long weekend? Did you even realize it's a long weekend? Here in this San Francisco suburb where I live, next week the kids have no school, and it's widely known as "ski week" (a name at which I can't help rolling my eyes, partly because I hate skiiing, and partly because I cannot afford a trip to Tahoe). What school officials don't seem to realize is that it should be known as I-need-to-write-without-interruption-all-freaking-week week, and it is wrong, wrong, wrong of them to go scheduling county-wide weeks off from school without consulting my writing schedule first. I mean, duh. Who do they think they are?
Hearts and Flowers and Stuff
In case you haven't read the Girl Talk discussion Cindy and I posted recently about what we think is romantic, today's the day to do it. Apparently, as romance authors, we're supposed to sort of know what romance is all about, but the conclusion we muddled toward is that it's a highly individual thing. Big revelation, huh?
Anyway, what are you doing to celebrate Valentine's Day? Do you think it's the dumbest holiday ever, or do you love it? Or did you totally forget it's today?
I wasn't really planning to celebrate, but my kids kind of forced me. I gave in to their pleas, and we went to the local variety store yesterday, where I was surprised to find a frantic crowd of shoppers elbowing each other out of the way to grab the last of the heart-shaped candy things. I snagged a few little boxes of message hearts, a small toy for each kid, and then suffered in line for 15 minutes.
Today my son has a play date after school, so my romantic evening will be spent presiding over a small herd of noisy Valentine's Day candy-charged children.
Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough
Valentine's Day, Etc
I know this was a Christmas thing, and maybe everyone on earth besides me has already seen it months ago, but just in case your guy needs an idea of what to get you for Valentine's Day....
Also, the other blog I participate in, http://www.loveisanexplodingcigar.com, is having a Valentine's Day contest, in which we're giving away a way cool prize worth $100. You just have to go to the site, register as a user, and post a Valentine-y sort of recipe on the contest thread at the top of the page. The winner will receive 5 $20 gift certificates, for Amazon.com, Victoria's Secret, Godiva, Novica.com, and Red Envelope.
And I'll mention, since my last topic was kind of pathetic, I also blogged today over at the Cigar site. You can check out that entry if you want, entitled Hot Guys and Shiny Objects--Or What Attracts You to a Book. I promise it's not as lame as the entry I did here.
Goals, People--Writing Goals, Not Soccer Ones
Well since the wistful tone of my last post made everyone think I was feeling sad about my career, I figured I'd better get back to my usual thing. Which is...what? Hell if I know.
Anyway, I just got word that a workshop I agreed to participlate in at the RWA National conference was approved, and that means I'm officially going to the conference in July. Conference always sends me into a goal-setting frenzy, making lists of the bazillion things I'm going to accomplish before I go so that I can justify spending too much on the trip and feel like I'm accomplishing something in my career.
So what are your writing goals for the year? Or if you're going to RWA National in Dallas, what are you going to accomplish before you get there? I am going to finish the (ahem...cough, cough) 5 proposals my editor has been waiting all too patiently for, finish the book I have due March 1st, and finish two single title proposals I've started recently and want to have done before July.
Now you see why I have to laugh in the face of my own goals (imagine maniacal laughter here).
February, the Month with Too Many R's
This is the profound realization I had this morning: Wow, it's February.
Why does February have that extra R? Don't answer that, because I really don't actually care. I'm just rambling.
I've had my not-quite-four-year-old daughter home from school with me all week, which has me musing about the passage of time and how it can simultaneously feel so fast and so slow. It's like that saying about staying at home with young children goes--the days pass too slowly and the years pass too quickly.
But now I'm thinking of that saying in terms of my development as a writer. I had all these grand plans for myself. Career goals and such. January marked 4 years since my first book hit the shelves, and soon I will be coming up on the five year mark since I sold my first book.
I'm still here, still fumbling along, still the same writer with some of the same problems and a few new ones. I have not seen any wild, overnight successes, but I'm grateful to still be rowing the boat blindly in what sort of feels like the right direction. The years have passed too quickly since that first sale, and yet the days alone at the keyboard can feel long and relentless.
But in the face of all those goals I put on paper way back when and have yet to acheive, I have to laugh. It occurs to me more and more that all we really have as writers are these lonely days with our writing. That's where the reward is. That's where the challenge is. That's where the action is, slow and tedious as it might be.
Outward success is fleeting and hard to hold onto, but if you can find your real satisfaction in the work itself, if you can accept that being a writer really is...simple as it may sound...really all about sitting down and writing, you've got the one thing that will sustain you throughout this arduous writing life.
Five years will pass. Ten, fifteen, twenty, and one day you will look up from your keyboard (or whatever it is we're writing with twenty years from now--thought recognition software?) and realize it's February again, and you're on the other side of winter again, and then, simply, you will get back to work.