In the world, in writing specifically, we tend to have varying views on which plays into our success or what we perceive as failures. Did that author with the career we want just get lucky? Or did they persevere for years before becoming an “overnight success?” Which is it? Luck or perseverance? Well, I think it’s both.
I believe there’s a little luck in everything we achieve. We’re at the right place, talking to the right people, pitching the right idea. But there is definitely a lot of perseverance involved, too. If we didn’t continually search out the people to talk to—network—we probably wouldn’t be lucky enough to meet with them.
If we didn’t keep our minds and bodies clear and open for ideas to plant and flourish, well, we wouldn’t be lucky enough to sign that seventeen-hunderd book deal with one of the big six for a seven figure advance (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea). We have to persevere. In other words, we must work on our craft, even when we feel like we’ve stalled.
The right idea. That one deserves a closer look. I believe that luck probably plays a bigger role in this area than in any other. We can try to follow trends, but the writing world is fickle. What’s hot today might not be by the time our book is signed, edited, marketed and then released. By then, the fad is over—or not. We just don’t know, and neither, by the way, do publishers. They can guess, but they don’t know.
Does that mean we throw out the vampire novel we’re working on because Stephenie Meyer ruined the genre for everyone else? Or that our dystopian belongs in the circular file because Veronica Roth wrote Divergent? Nope. We…persevere. Maybe our project gets shelved for a year or so. Maybe not. Either way, there’s a little green leprechaun running about our feet and a whole lot of strong perseverance in our souls to make that book deal happen.
Before PODs, my upcoming June release, I’d written four books. Not a huge number compared to other writers—in fact, downright puny when you look at some of the greats—but still enough to be discouraging. I have a stack of ‘no thank you’ form letters in a drawer of my desk from agents and publishers. I hate them. Every time I open that dreaded drawer and get a glimpse of them, my stomach does a little flip—and not the swoony kind. When someone mentions their agent, the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head because I still haven’t found mine. I wanted to be that overnight success I’m always hearing about. When it became apparent I wasn’t going to be, I had a decision to make. Give up or persevere. Now, I’m not preaching here. I didn’t just say, “Okay, keep on truckin’ and it’ll work out.” No, I stuck with it because I love writing. Period. There wasn’t a decision. I was going to write whether anyone read my stuff or not, but I really, really wanted to be published. Really.
And then I got lucky. I wrote PODs, my baby. My favorite. I submitted to a small press and heard back the next day with a request for a full. Two days later, I had an offer. And on June 4th (my son’s twelfth birthday!) it’ll be released. Downright luck. Spencer Hill Press was the first and only submission I made. Don’t slap me through your computer screens, like I said—luck. And I’ll be even luckier if readers like it.
So, that brings me back to the original question—Luck or perseverance? I think we have to have both. One doesn’t exist without the other. At least that’s my belief. What’s yours? Do you find yourself persevering more than getting lucky? Have you found a magic formula? (We’d all likely pay to hear it). Or do you believe, like I do, that luck and perseverance go hand-in-hand?