There’s nothing worse than being surrounded by success when you’re not there yet. Not so long ago I was at that point, trying desperately to get published and not succeeding. The term “ambivalent” so fits struggling writers who just heard their best friend was offered her first contract. How else can you experience such happiness (for her) and such melancholy (for you)?
The words whisper then scream in our heads: “When will it be my turn?” And, “How did she finally get lucky?”
In April of 2001, I devoted my column to the topic of luck in getting published. Since St. Patrick’s Day and the Luck ‘o the Irish is almost upon us — the topic merits re-visiting.
First, a quick review of my earlier column. I outlined some outrageous “good luck” stories, one about a couple of guys who gathered over thirty rejections for their collection of upbeat stories, then contacted a small publisher who thought their book was just what America needed, and Chicken Soup for the Soul launched a new era in publishing history.
Included in my list was Diana Gabaldon’s story of how she posted incomplete chapters of her work in progress in an on-line chat room and caught the eye of an agent who secured a lucrative contract for Outlander, which became a New York Times best-seller. Then there’s J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series, who graduated from writing on paper napkins to becoming richer than the Queen of England!
It’s no small wonder I wanted to study the concept of luck back then. At the time, I’d received a string of rejections, hadn’t finaled in a contest for over a year, and my last contest score before writing that column was one point shy of making it to the second round. I needed to learn about luck!
The newly published RMFW authors I interviewed held widely divergent views of how large a part luck played in their receiving “the call.”
* 30% said, “Luck played a large part.”
* 50% said, “Luck played a small part.”
* 20% said, “Luck played no part at all.”
Since writing that column I discovered a fascinating book, Change Your Luck, The Scientific Way to Improve Your Life, by Dr. Richard Wiseman. Wiseman’s research took several years and involved interviews with hundreds of exceptionally lucky and unlucky people.
He discovered a significantly new way of looking at luck and the role it plays in our lives.
Tomorrow: de-bunking the myths about luck.