No matter how many of the writers I interview tell me that a certain degree of luck is necessary to get that first book published, I remain unconvinced that luck, in the truest sense of the word, has got anything to do it. For instance: Let’s say I am playing a game where in order to win I must roll two sixes on a pair of dice. If I were only allowed to roll once, or even twice, then yes, a certain amount of luck would be required to win. But what if I were allowed to roll ten times? Or twenty times? Or what if I were allowed to roll as many times as I wanted, for as long as I could tolerate rolling, until I got two sixes? In that case “luck” would only govern how long it took me to win, not if I won. And in fact, since I couldn’t technically lose unless I stopped rolling, it wouldn’t really be a game at all, because gone would be the question of winning and losing; the only question would be whether I was willing to continue rolling.
So it goes with publishing and most everything we do in life. If for each story I wrote I were only allowed one stamp to mail one copy to one publisher, then I would certainly need some luck. But what the writers who mention luck really mean is that there is an element to publishing, as with everything, that is out of our control: namely, other people. What we call luck is an expression of our own impatience and our periodic frustration with other people’s persistent to desire to make up their own minds.
Forget about luck, if you can. It is an insidious concept, implying somehow that life is nothing but a meaningless collision of numbered ping-pong balls in a glass case. Luck is an excuse to give up, to cede our role in the unfolding of our lives to an invisible force, a force that in the end turns out to be nothing but our own lack of faith in ourselves.
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