Make your own luck? Or a roll of the dice

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There is no such thing as luck, someone once told me. You make your own luck. By working hard and never giving up, you’ll always succeed. And for the longest time I believed that was true. And I proved them—and myself—correct at every turn.

Did I want to make it through boot camp? Work harder! Did I want to succeed at breast-feeding? Never give up! So when I decided to write professionally, I applied these two logics. Work harder and never give up.

For nine months, I spent every second I could spare writing, critiquing, revising, editing, rewriting. Until, by chance, I found a post about my soon-to-be agent. And this weird tingle tickled my stomach, so I sent off my query with partial, though it went against my own rule to not snail mail unless specifically requested. And my other rule not to send to non-responders, which is lucky I did, because about a month later I was offered representation.

So, some of you are saying, what’s the point? We’ve heard this all before. I know. 😉 But see, even then I didn’t believe in luck. I worked hard on that MS. I wrote, rewrote, revised, edited, and suffered through a few rejections. Plus I visit that site every day. I was bound to find an agent through there. ☺

Well, about 2 months ago, I was sitting watching my son playing a video game, struggling through a story that was kicking my butt, and it hit me. The what if question all us writers get. And that question was, what if a little girl was stolen from the surface and dragged to live with this monstrous woman who brainwashed her in this underwater utopia/dystopia?

I immediately started plotting it out. Obviously, it quickly mutated and is completely different than that first what if question, but I couldn’t stop. Even when my agent sent me revision notes on two of my other stories, so we could go back out on submission, I had the hardest time pulling myself away from the computer.

I even brought my laptop with to RWA Nationals so I could keep writing. My characters wouldn’t shut up. And then the most amazing thing happened, the story changed AGAIN.

I realized I was writing in my most hated of writing styles. First person, present tense. And that it was good! I couldn’t get myself to write in past. No matter what I did, I always reverted back to present tense. And Evie, the MC, had this most amazing voice. It was formal and informal at the same time. So, I gave up. And wrote it the way it wanted.

Even though I’d plotted it out, things changed while I was writing it. It went from mildly dark, to darn near pitch black at the end. And still it wasn’t enough. I had to go back through the MS again, and again. To get it right.

In the meantime, it’s gone back to my critique group, who loved it. Then my most trusted critique partner, who fixed the few present tense slips. And then when I was pretty sure it was perfect, it went off to betas. And all reports back are: It’s great. When can I buy it?

Now it’s in the hands of my awesome agent, and I’m nervous as hell, because it’s unlike ANYTHING I’ve ever written before. But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever written.

And I STILL can’t get the story out of my head.

I just have to hope Natalie likes it and some editor snatches it up, because this has proven beyond a doubt that while hard work and never giving up are important, luck goes hand in hand with it.

Being in the right place at the right time means everything.

So, share with me. What’s your opinion? Is there luck? Or do we make our own luck?

Also, I’m in two places at once.  I’m here and over at Makin’ Baby Grand talking about World-building in YA Science Fiction.


9 Responses to “Make your own luck? Or a roll of the dice”

  1. Tamara Hughes says:

    >I'm not sure I believe in luck as much as destiny and fate.

    When things happen to me or don't happen, later I typically realize there was a reason for it.

    A few years ago, I was in a competition called the American Title V. It was a writing competition set up like American Idol where the public voted to decide who would get a book contract. I came in second place and was devastated.

    The publisher offering the contract was Dorchester, who is now having lots of issues.

    Was it luck that I didn't win? Or somehow was someone up there looking out for me? Hmm. I can't decide.

    Tami

  2. Wynter Daniels says:

    >I believe luck has something to do with getting published and other milestones in a writer's life. That tingly feeling has to mean something.

  3. jasouders says:

    >Tamara, you've got a point. And I'd have to say it's a bit of both that you didn't end up with Dorchester. 😀

    Wynter: I agree. Now. 😀 You couldn't convince me of that about a year ago, though. 😀

    Thanks both of you for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Heather says:

    >I have to agree that we make our own luck. If I relied on luck I would still be in a bad place. Hard work has got me to where I'm at right now and I love where I'm at. Now, if the phone would just ring… But until it does, I'll continue writing!

  5. Liz Czukas says:

    >I think there's some element of luck, but it seems to be dumb luck, and right now, it feels like it's all going to other people, LOL. But you could have all the luck in the world, and if you didn't have the guts to sit down at the keyboard and do what you do everyday, it won't get you anywhere, right?

    Hard Work + Luck = Success

    (At least, I sure hope so!)

    – Liz

  6. Eleven Eleven says:

    >I do believe serendipity shines down when attitude, perspective, and effort are in line. I think people make their own luck, in a small way by changing what actually happens to them, but in a much bigger way by changing how they feel about events oftentimes outside their influence. Sheryl Crow says: It's not getting what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

    I'm glad becoming a writer has been a worthwhile journey for you. I know it has for me. Milestones like producing a fantastic manuscript are a joy, aren't they? Congratulations. And it is a great story. I expect it to go places in the publishing world.

  7. Jamie Grey says:

    >I definitley think luck and hard work go hand in hand. I firmly believe everything happens for a reason whether we like it or not. And that someday hopefully that reason will make sense.

    Being at the right place at the right time is huge – that kind of synchronicity always gives me the shivers. Or when you get that perfect plot twist out of nowhere. But I always wonder how much of it is really luck versus being aware and ready to recieve that sort of thing.

    Good luck on the story! It sounds like something I'd love to read!

  8. jasouders says:

    >@Heather: I'm sure that phone will ring soon! Or at least the email…:D
    @Liz: Now that's a math equation I can get behind!
    @11-11: Thank you!
    @jamie: Thanks to you, as well!

  9. Kimberly says:

    >Luck. I don't really believe in luck, although to not sound like a total weirdo I sometimes use the term. As in "How lucky." Or "I'm so lucky." But usually I'm thinking how everything comes together as it should and how there are angels around helping us out and positive attitude etc.
    And then there is fate. And what is for the best. As in: I hope you DO get published AND it is what is the best possible thing that could happen to you AT THE SAME TIME. SOmetimes what is best and what we want is not the same.
    In your case, I think they are though!
    I enjoyed reading your blog 🙂
    Kimberly