Thursday, January 14, 2010

Luck You

I haven't blogged in a few weeks, because I've been busy. Besides working on a deadline, I've had a ridiculous number of good things happen in my career lately.

I'll make official announcements when I can, but I will say that I'm going to be around, in various genres, for the next few years, and I'm going to make a nice amount of money.

I've told a few of my writing peers some of the details, and their remarks have been genuinely supportive. They're happy for me. This means I pick my friends well, because I haven't encountered a single smidgen of envy.

But I am noticing something they say which I don't agree with.

Everyone I've told has told me I deserve this. Every single person.

They back up their statements by saying, "You've worked so hard" and "You've done so much" and "It's about time your writing got some recognition."

They're sweet to say so, but they're wrong.

Long time readers of this blog know that I truly believe, deep in my heart, that no one deserves anything.

But sometimes, we get lucky.

If people truly deserved things in life, it would imply there is some sort of fairness in the world, and some sort of guaranteed way to get rewarded for our talents and efforts.

I'm pretty sure that's not the case. Many talented writers languish in obscurity and poverty. Some newbie writers get huge deals without "paying their dues."

It's always been about luck.

Luck dictates where you're born, and who your parents are. Luck dictates the traits you're born with. Luck plays a part in your education, your career, your love life, the friends you have, and pretty much every facet of life.

As I write this, Haiti was just hit by a massive earthquake, and tens of thousands are dead. None of them deserved that. It was just horribly bad luck.

By the same token, no one deserves to land big publishing deals.

We all want big publishing deals. And a select few get lucky.

I believe if you work hard, learn to understand the business, and work at bettering your craft, you can improve your odds.

But at the end of the day, it's still luck.

Now, I understand why my peers said this. I have worked hard. I think I write pretty good books. They're telling me my efforts have paid off.

But the writing business isn't like planting a seed and growing a tree. There are many other factors involved. This isn't science, where you can run an experiment and always get a predetermined result.

People really hate to think that we don't have complete control over our lives. In fact, even those meticulous folks who measure out their lives with coffee spoons have less control than they think.

The fact is, you never truly know what's going to happen. You can create incredible works of art, toil your entire life, and never sell a single thing. Landing a big publishing deal is not something within your control.

So focus on what is within your control.

Read. Write. Improve. Submit. Learn. Experiment. Try.

I'm not entitled to all of these good things that are happening in my career. I don't deserve success. And neither does anyone else.

But I can say, with complete candor, that getting lucky is a lot more fun when you work your ass off. :)

So ditch that poisonous sense of entitlement. Don't be bitter if things don't go your way at first. Concentrate on what is within your control, and keep at it because you love it.

Happiness isn't the destination. Where you wind up is determined by luck.

Happiness, true happiness, is the journey that takes you there.