Friday, June 4, 2010

Wanna get lucky? You've gotta play the game

I like to win stuff.

I'm not talking about soccer games or writing competitions or anything that involves actual skill.

I adore winning contests based on dumb luck. Over the years, I've won concert tickets and books, cash prizes and CDs, goldfish and gift certificates. I once won a frozen turkey by catching a paper bird dropped from the top of a crane.

And of course, you already know I won my wedding.

My most recent victory was on the hilarious blog of YA author Jamie Harrington. She gave away mermaid mark tattoos to commenters who told fish jokes. My tattoos just arrived in the mail, and since I'm visiting my parents at the moment, I shared with my father.

Dad and me with our mermaid mark tattoos. Pretty!

Given my habit of winning contests, a lot of people have made comments over the years. "You're so lucky," they say. "I've never known anyone who wins so much stuff."

It's true that I win a lot, and it may also be true that I'm lucky. Certainly I feel that way in light of my recent three-book deal.

But I win contests because I enter a butt-load of them. Plain and simple, I fill out the entry forms, buy the raffle tickets, stick my quarter in the slot machine, and hit speed-dial over and over and over until DJs at my local radio stations know me by name and give me prizes just to make me go away.

It's the same thing with writing. Luck is a big factor in whether you ultimately land a book deal. Bigger than skill or timing or sleeping with the right editor.

But you've got to do your part for luck to work in your favor. You have to write the manuscripts -- sometimes many of them, sometimes terrible ones. You have to draft the queries, pile up the rejections, and jump through enough hoops to make you want to spit into your morning Fruit Loops.

Even the best luck in the world won't help if you don't do everything in your power to make things happen for yourself.

What are you doing right now, right this second, to make damn sure luck knows where to find you?

Me? I've been wearing my lucky socks for a week straight, hoping to win that 10-pound bag of freeze dried brine shrimp eggs. You never know, right?


Anonymous said...

By now I think my lucky charm will be to actually send out my manuscript to lit agents. I've been keeping the terrible thing to myself because I'm just so scared of getting that first rejection. Never going to know until I try though!

Jamie D. said...

So, hypothetically speaking, what kind of cut would you want to pick this week's lotto numbers for me? LOL

And I agree, of course...90% of luck is just being ready for it to find you, no matter what that entails.

Though I've been ready to win the lottery for years... *sigh*

Patty Blount said...

You gotta be in it to win it. Great advice and not just for contests.

Loved the wedding story, too! (Belated congrats on your 12th anniversary)

The last thing I won was a copy of Adobe's eLearning Suite just for retweeting the announcement.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

I would take it as a personal favor if you refrained from entering the drawing for the HGTV green home. Thanks in advance.

That said: Agreed! Winning stuff is fantastic. Doesn't even matter what it is, just that it's won. And you're right about making your own lucky opportunities. Have you seen this article? Similar idea. Anyway, thanks for sharing the secrets for being so awesome. :)

Sean Ferrell said...

"Bigger than skill or timing or sleeping with the right editor."

You mean I slept with my editor for NOTHING?! I'm gonna kill him.

Lynda Elkin said...

You crack me up AND inspire me. Thanks!!

DL Hammons said...

That's right...we have to make our own luck! Anybody have a spare rabbits foot?

LR said...

Oh wow, I want a mermaid tattoo!

Cynthia Reese said...

So true ... you can't win if you don't enter!

Linda G. said...

Love the tatts!

But, dang, from reading the rest of your post, I'm guessing I won't ever win the lottery if I don't buy a ticket. There's always a catch!

Terry Stonecrop said...

Oh damn, I must have slept with the wrong editor.

Right now I'm reading blogs. Perhaps this is not what I should be doing.

Robin said...

A great reminder. Can't win if you don't play. You could have called this post perseverance, but then it wouldn't have been funny. The thing is that as people (not just writers) we all need a kick in the ass to remind us that luck isn't going to get us where we want to go. Follow through and determination and persevering in the face of failure ~ if you want that dream badly enough will get you there. Unless you just don't have a lick of talent. Then, I guess we are back to luck, or sleeping with the editor and hoping that you have some talent THERE. Thanks for the tips.

Expat mum said...

Just sent my agent a fairly long e-mail detailing my "plans" for the rest of the year. How funny that I must have been in the same frame of mind.
As for competitions - I always lament that I never win anything, but I have entered only three things this year so it's not really surprising is it?

Christi Goddard said...

Dammit. I was banking on sleeping with the right editor. Foiled again. I guess I'll do it the hard way and finish another WIP and query...

Jan Markley said...

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I just sent out my work for the first time, to a short story contest. Even if I don't win, it feels good knowing that I tried. I've been researching other contests and lit mags to see where I can submit my work and increase my odds of getting published. At the very least it's good practice.


Thanks so much for all the terrific comments, guys! I'm on the road right now so I don't have a chance to respond to everyone individually, but I'm reading and loving all your comments and enjoy them a lot. Thanks for reading!