Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's luck got to do with being a good writer? Pretty much everything

Do you have dreams? I have many different kinds of dreams.

For one, I'd like a small acreage located near where I live now. It should have a house with a wrap around porch and a bench for me to sit on and watch the world go by. It should have a metal gate for keeping the kids in, and a small barn in the back for any animals I may attempt to own. I'd also like a spot for my parents to have a mobile home, just so I could see them more than once every 2 years. The land should have enough room for my husband to grab his excavator and build some dirt jumps for him and the kids.

Yet another dream? I'd like to write a few books and have them published. Nothing crazy. I'm not shooting for the New York best seller list, but to be able to make a decent income doing what I love is a dream of mine. Not only because I have four kids to raise, but because I love writing.

Neither of these dreams are unobtainable. To get the house, I just need to find a job and/or a steady stream of gigs to supplement our current income. Writing the book is a bit harder. I have quite a few ideas, just no time beyond my current family and writing gigs to actually start. I'd also have to say that I'm sort of afraid to go there, but that is an entirely different post.

I've viewed my life as a sort of ladder. Since I've started writing I've taken it one rung at a time. One job led to another, which led to another, and as my confidence in my writing has grown so has my desire to go beyond what I have already accomplished. I've written for some very amazing clients, and I'm happy to continue doing just that. But on another level, I need to take it one step further. In the immortal words of Walt Disney:

A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.

Which leads me to something I have been pondering. What does luck have to do with advancing your writing career? If you asked me, I'd have to say a lot. I read a book once called "Lucky or Smart: Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life" by Bo Peabody. It didn't change my life, but it certainly made me realize that I could be a prolific writer and if no one ever gave me a chance? I could go back to bagging groceries at the local Save On or just really focus on cleaning up after the kids for a change.

Isn't luck really about being in the right place at the right time? No matter if its who you tweet or whether you send in an query to an editor who is just looking for that topic, luck is basically when the Universe aligns and points its big finger at you and says, Today is YOUR DAY!

Yes, you should probably start with a basic talent, but I've seen some severely untalented writers take it to the next level and beyond. Case in point: Perez Hilton. If you look at it in a writing perspective, his success defies the imagination. Yet he is a famous blogger/writer and let's face it, he dresses much better than I do. Lauren Conrad wrote one best selling fiction novel called LA Candy. Her claim to fame? The Hills, an annoying 'reality' show that most likely has given every single girl a complex at one time or another. There are better writers out there, with sharp witted jabs and the ability to make you laugh or cry with the single twist of a synonym, yet they fester in obscurity. Why? The lucky break has not happened for them yet.

What does luck have to do with writing? I'd say everything. I read all of the books/blogs/news I can handle, and I make a point of writing something every single day. At some point or another, if I never receive a lucky break, I'll just be blogging into the abyss.

What do you think?


  1. I think we create our own luck.

    To be a successful writer you need to find a niche or genre that you are familiar with, and then exploit your knowledge.

    I started collecting vintage 1930s Disneyana and Disney WW II items about 25 and 15 years ago, respectively. I also became interested in WW II history when I was a teenager.

    I've taken my knowledge about the early history of the Disney company and turned that into numerous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as one self-published book. I currently have three more Disney-related books in various stages of production.

    I have also worked with Walt Disney's daughter, Diane Disney Miller, as a Consultant, Special Projects, at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Fransisco, where around 50 items from my own collection are also on display. There has been talk of me being a guest speaker at the Museum as well.

    Over the course of the last dozen years or so I have interviewed in the neighborhood of around four dozen WW II veterans. I've had several articles published in the leading WW II magazine, including veteran interviews, feature stories, and I had my own column.

    I've never written fiction, but I'd like to try when I have time (right now three young children, a full-time job as an Editorial Assistant, and my wife's home-based business take up most of my day).

    I'd like to try writing historical fiction. My idea is to take a fictional WW II War Correspondent and chronicle his life between 1939-1945...drop him into real-life scenarios, where he witnesses certain battles or events, or comes into contact with non-fictional personalities.

    One thing I'd also like to focus on as well is to exploit my Disney knowledge further. I've given guest lectures on different facets of Walt Disney's life, his Studio, and related collectibles. I'd like to go further with that. It looks like I'll be asked to be a guest speaker again at a Disney convention in Seattle this June. It's a great opportunity for self-promotion - to build the resume, speak about a topic I know intimately, and hopefully get other like-minded individuals interested in my books...plus it's a lot of fun hanging-out with other Disney geeks! LOL

    Oh, and I too dream about that acreage, with space for the kids to roam, and a big vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, and a night sky full of stars...just east of 200th in Langley Township would be perfect.

    Good luck with your writing! To paraphrase one of my idols, nothing is impossible...you just have to put your mind to it.




  2. Perez Hilton certainly is a terrible writer. His money has been made through dubious and questionable posts.

    Good writing starts with reading good writing, followed by just working at it daily. The business of selling writing is a different thing.