Tag Archives: luck

Attraction, Inspiration, and Crap I Found on the Road

Here’s the weirdest thing I’m willing to tell you about myself: I collect stuff off the street. Metal stuff, mostly, that looks like it fell off a vehicle.

It’s not as weird as it… okay, it is, but I can explain. I walk a lot. Like, almost every day, weather and health permitting. In the summer I have a lovely local boardwalk around a pond I can visit. And if I’m in the mood for treasure hunting, there’s a rocky beach not far away where I can find sea glass handmade by the ocean from the beer bottles people toss off of the nearby scenic lookout.

But winter means wandering the streets. Not much to see there.

Except that one day I noticed a ball bearing at my feet. I picked it up thinking one of my kids would find it cool. Trucks are kind of his thing.

And I liked it. It felt nifty in my hand. Really smooth and heavy and different.

So I kept it, and decided it would be fun to keep my eyes open for more (while trying not to worry about whatever vehicles were shedding these things around town). Sort of like wandering the beach looking for sea glass and shells, but more casual.

…And with more potential judgement from passing drivers who saw me bending over to pick up dirty metal garbage, but whatever. I have zero reputation to maintain, as far as I know.

Long story short, once I started looking, I started seeing. A lot of it was stuff I definitely didn’t want. Plastic bits (I mean, please, I DO have standards). Other crap that blew out of someone’s trash bags on garbage day.*

But I sometimes find what I’m looking for.

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I mean, not to brag, but guys? I’m kinda the Little Mermaid of crap that fell off of poorly-maintained vehicles. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got… well, three, but I’m getting more. Soon.

There is a point to all of this.

The thing is, I never saw any of this stuff lying around before I started paying attention to it. Just like how I rarely found sand dollars on the beach in Nova Scotia until I decided my prize was there if I kept my eyes open. After that, it was rare that I didn’t go home with at least one.

Same with sea glass.

Same with inspiration.

There was a time when I clung tight to the one story idea I had because I thought it was all I was ever going to get. This was THE THING. The story I had to make absolutely perfect because there was no guarantee that the well went deeper than this. I was miserly. I gave up frequently because the one perfect idea in my head never came out right on paper, and OH GOD WHAT IF I BREAK IT?!

Now? Now I believe ideas are everywhere, just waiting to be spotted. I don’t expect them to be served to me on a silver platter, though sometimes they are.** But I trust that if I keep my eyes open, if I believe inspiration is out there, my brain is capable of taking two random things I’ve seen and making something brilliant out of them.

Or something that’s the equivalent of plastic crap, but the point is that the treasures are out there. But I will never see them if I don’t walk around with my eyes and my mind open, believing they’re there.

I worry less about taking a chance and messing up, because there’s more.

I think this applies to a lot of other things in life, too. Like opportunities. Now, big opportunities are more frequent and easier to accept for some people than others, no question. Different people will have different doors opening for us, and not everyone gets kicked out of the nest with a great education or a “small” loan from his or her parents or a rolodex full of high-rolling contacts. But we all make choices that affect us, and we will have some kind of opportunity for something. But will we see it if we have our eyes closed, expecting nothing good come to us? Or worse, if we believe we don’t deserve opportunities?

I’m guilty of that one, and I’ve likely overlooked a lot of chances for success because I thought they weren’t meant for someone like me. But the times when I have believed in myself and been open to opportunity–to saying no to agents and publishers and going it alone, for example, or to joining in on a *shudder* group project with other amazing authors–have been very rewarding.

And if I believe that I don’t only get one shot, that success is not my only motherf*$%in’ option (contrary to what Eminem might preach in that one very catchy tune) because I will see other opportunities, I can relax about messing up, take more chances, and dream bigger.

Or luck. If I believe I’m lucky and define luck as finding ball bearings on the street, look how lucky I am! If I believe I’m unlucky and won’t find any, I suspect the odds of me seeing them drop significantly. I just won’t be looking for them if I don’t believe I’m lucky enough to have them appear in my path.

What if I broadened my definition of luck? What if I embraced it and didn’t feel guilty about believing I’m lucky/smart/observant/whatever word I choose for it, and really stayed open to what might be out there?

I don’t know a lot about this law of attraction and manifestation stuff so many of my online acquaintances talk about all the time. Do I think the universe is a big genie waiting to grant my wishes if only I focus hard enough on what I want? Do I think opportunity and inspiration and luck and MASSIVE WEALTH spontaneously appear because I desire them enough?

Not really, no.

BUT.

I do see the underlying, practical logic of it. The psychology of it, maybe. If I focus on the good things in my life, if I’m grateful for what I have, I’m going to be more aware of them. Kind of like how you never notice blue Volkswagens until you buy one, and then they’re everywhere. They were there all along. You didn’t call them into being because you were thinking about them. You simply see what you’re paying attention to.

Inspiration.

Opportunities.

Luck.

Metal crap on the street, man.

So no, I’m not going all woo-woo mystical and trying to like… vibrate… or whatever it is. But I think, thanks to a ball bearing I almost kicked into the gutter a few months ago, that I kind of get it.

Good things are out there. Utter crap is out there, too, if we’re being honest. But I’m trying really hard to stay focused on the good.

Because what I focus on is what I see. It’s what I get more of.

I’m just keeping my eyes open.

——

*Though true story, I once saw an empty Vienna sausage can in a snowbank and sincerely hoped–and still hope–that my mental image of some guy wandering down main street casually sucking tiny processed meat sticks directly from the can as he strolled along and then tossing the garbage aside is accurate. It could happen.

**In bed, once. You can’t beat that kind of service.

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I’ve Got a Dream

Some of you will disagree with everything I say here, and that’s okay. I hope this doesn’t get too depressing for anyone. It’s not meant to be. This is what happens when reality gently taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of what’s important. (I’ve re-written this post four times already, I’m done.)

Let’s start with this, because it’s amazing:

Damn, I love me some Flynn Rider.

Those guys have dreams. Perhaps not realistic dreams, but they’ve got ’em. Don’t we all? I know I do, and I know (because I’m a little psychic because I read your wonderful blogs) that many of you share my dream. Not for me– for yourselves.

We want to write. We want other people to read and love what we write, and we’d really like to get recognition and at least a wee bit of money for that. We want to see our books on a shelf and go, “Yes, that’s mine. I did that.” And then if you’re me, dissolve into a puddle of tears because this is what you’ve always wanted.

Doesn’t sound like so much to ask, does it? Some of you are laughing right now because you know that it IS a lot to ask, and it’s a hard dream to have. And it’s a dream that an unbelievable number of people share, all of them caring as much about their work and believing in it as hard as I do mine. I find this very humbling.

It’s a great dream, don’t get me wrong. When you love what you’re doing and there are examples in front of you every day of people just like you making it, getting their books published and turning into massive bestsellers, you think, why not me? When you get to the part where you’re collecting rejections, there are stories of those very same authors and books getting  just as many rejections. You think, “it’s part of the process.” Well, I assume you do. I don’t have much experience with this part yet, but I will, one way or another. We all do, if we put our stuff out there.

We maintain hope, but  at the same time, we understand that for most of us, it’s not going to happen. Whether because we’re deluding ourselves when we think our work is good enough (not you guys, your work is the cat’s pajamas. I’m saying me and those shady-looking writers over there), or because of a variety of factors beyond our control*, we’ll be lucky to see our beloved words in print.

Oh, we can skew the odds in our favor, for sure. We can read up on writing craft (and read everything else we can get our grubby mitts on and learn from), we can make our work the best it can be, we can market the heck out of it, we can go to conventions** and meet agents or editors who just might remember us if we make a super-good impression, we can spend hours and days crafting the perfect query letter. We can hire great editors and take their advice, we can find amazing cover artists and devise the perfect pricing strategy. It makes a difference. It doesn’t guarantee success.

Depressed yet? I’m not.

There’s a kind of freedom, for me at least, in knowing that the odds are long and the road hard, in understanding that some things are beyond my control, and that that’s absolutely, perfectly fine. It helps me understand the difference between goals and dreams. Writing the best books you can and doing the best you can for them, that’s a worthwhile goal. Having a bestseller that’s made into a blockbuster movie and then there’s the money and let’s say a super hot actor falls in love with the author behind it all (hey, why not, right?) is a dream. If it keeps you going, it’s a good dream. It’s not a reasonable goal, though, and we’re all going to be mighty disappointed if we make that kind of luck and success a goal we expect to achieve.

Optimism is necessary, and it’s fantastic. Realism is, too, but in a different way. I say we need both.

This brings me to another, tangentially related topic. You know those people who seem to pop up on every agent’s blog asking what the next big thing is going to be, as though they can write it to order and be guaranteed an agent/contract/publication/bestseller? That’s hilarious, isn’t it? Kind of adorable.

There’s a reason they say to write what you love, and to write because you love it, not because you think you could be the next Stephanie Meyer if only you could catch the wave of the next trend in publishing. Odds are you’ll put a lot of work into something you don’t actually care about, and have little to show for it. No matter what you do, books that aren’t as good as yours will probably rise higher. It sucks, but it happens (not mentioning any names). But if you love what you do, believe in your stories and feel passionately that this is what you’re meant to be doing, you’re not wasting your time. Whatever level of commercial or critical success you achieve (or don’t), you’ve done something worthwhile.

I like that idea.

So yes, I’ll polish up this book that I’m working on, wash its face and send it out into the world, telling it to play nice with the other kids (but not too nice) and not to trade its carrot sticks for cookies in the lunch room. And then I’ll get back to work on the next one, because that’s what I do.

Publishing may sometimes seem like an exercise in futility (and I’ve deleted paragraphs outlining why this is so, you’re very welcome), but writing never is. Not if it’s what you love.

*(that agent just signed someone and doesn’t care to add another just now; your book isn’t on-trend and the publisher doesn’t want to take a chance; you decide to self-publish and through the whims of fate and Amazon your book never gets any exposure)

**If you can do this, I’ll try to only hate you a little for it.


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