I know, I know…you’re welcome.
The Perseids meteor shower hits its peak each year between August 9-14. If clouds and city lights don’t obscure your view of the sky, you can celebrate my birthday (August 12) wishing on about 60 shooting stars per hour.
I’ve already mentioned I’m a bit superstitious. And though I’ll freely admit using my birthday meteor shower to rack up a few shooting star wishes, I’m also a big believer in making your own luck when it comes to your writing career.
Here my three favorite strategies:
Keep balls in the air
Yes, I did say balls. Done giggling? OK then.
Back when I queried agents, I had a rule – for every rejection I got, I’d send out two new queries. Not only did it keep me from dwelling on the most recent blow (snicker) but it ensured I always had plenty of possibilities in the pipeline. I ended up with offers from four agents, and eventual representation from the best agent on the planet, Michelle Wolfson.
This is also what I love about Michelle. When she shops my work, she doesn’t forward an editor rejection with a note that says, “bummer, oh well.” She’s always thinking ahead, letting me know there’s a plan. The plan might involve submitting elsewhere or tweaking the manuscript or even just sitting on it for awhile, but there’s always a plan.
It’s a good way to improve the odds that good news might come in the wake of bad.
Did your manuscript get slaughtered by critique partners? Start a new one. Queries didn’t land you an agent? Send new queries. Daniel Craig rejected your marriage proposal? Stalk George Clooney. Having a plan not only gives you hope, but ups your odds that your luck will improve.
Imagine the best thing, then the worst
No, this isn’t a suggestion that you picture Daniel Craig in his underwear being lit on fire (wait, give me a sec to dwell on the underwear thing).
In the eight years leading up to my three-book deal, I had a lot of time to visualize outcomes for every scenario. Is it better to await word from an editor thinking, “this is SO going to happen!” in hopes that your positive energy might make a difference? Or is it best to think, “I don’t have a wanker’s chance in a convent” so you’re braced for bad news?
The short answer: it doesn’t matter.
Bad news will come whether you envision a twelve-figure book deal or your keyboard being devoured by locusts. Good things can happen no matter what dirty images are flashing through your mind.
But it does help to picture both scenarios – the very best outcome and the very worst, plus a few things in between. That way, your brain is braced for everything, and you’re less likely to shout surprised obscenities when your news comes.
Waiting can be brutal. It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting for feedback from critique partners, responses to queries, or news on a submission to an editor. Waiting is the roughest part of the publishing biz, and it can make you bat-sh*t crazy if you let it.
Don’t. Keep your mind and your body occupied. Start an exercise routine. Spend time with friends. Begin a new manuscript. Download
If you were one of three people reading this blog back in February, you may have noticed I visited my grandma the day before my book deal was announced. That wasn’t an accident. It was my way of getting myself out of the house and away from the computer on the day the Sourcebooks editorial board was deciding my fate.
It was the smartest thing I could have done (well, besides bribing the editors with wine and chocolate, though things worked out OK anyway).
So what are your strategies for making your own luck? Do you clutch a four-leaf clover in one hand while polishing your query with the other? Please share in the comments.
I’ll be lying in my hammock, waiting for the sky to get dark and my meteor show to begin.