Odds

This morning I woke up to a pitch-black sky and a 20% chance of thunderstorms rattling the windows and pounding the roof. Ordinarily I would have groaned, thought of everything that needed doing outside after work and dragged myself out of bed anyway. But the room was cold, the bed was warm, and the yard is mowed. All of it. Every square foot of all 4.5 acres. For the first time in more years than I can remember. So I just snuggled in and listened to the storm play itself out.

I’ve had a few long strings of bad luck — broken bones, illnesses, surgeries, family deaths. I’m that one person in 300,000 who’s allergic to a particular medication — with the very allergy that the medication was designed to prevent. When I need a medicine of any kind, my docs start scrolling through their computers because my allergy list is doing a great imitation of Pinocchio’s nose.

BUT . . . years ago I blithely sent off my second manuscript, Within Reach, to Leslie Wainger, fully expecting her to buy it — and she did. She later told me it was one of fewer than ten new authors she’d bought that year out of more than 600 submissions. If I’d known how much the odds were against me, would I have sent it anyway? Knowing the fragile little ego I had back then, maybe not. Knowing how much I wanted to see my work published, probably so.

Odds can work with you or against you. But they only determine so much. Desire counts for a lot, too. Talent. Timing. Commitment. Dedication.

And luck. When Hallmark Hall of Fame optioned Season for Miracles back in the late ’90s, I can’t count how many people told me not to get my hopes up; fewer than 5% of books optioned for movies ever actually got made. Well, someone’s  book was going to get made, I figured; why not mine? And it did.

And perseverance. There’s no guarantee in the publishing biz. The publisher who offers you big bucks this year might not want anything to do with you next year. You finish one contract, the next contract’s not a sure thing. But we persevere, because they’ve gotto  buy somebody’s book. Why shouldn’t it be ours??

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16 thoughts on “Odds

  1. Amen, sister!

    They have to fill those slots, which means they have to buy someone’s book. Even though I’m a new author, I’ve got a good story so it might just be the next one they buy. Hey, it’s happened before. Right, Marilyn? 🙂

    • Absolutely.

      DH doesn’t “get” the mega bucks people spend to gamble in the casinos, but I tell him that SOMEBODY has to win from time to time, and all those people think it might be them. When something HAS to happen, there’s no reason not to believe that it can’t happen to you.

      So I’m holding onto my optimism. I’ve beat the odds before. Hey, there’s only one patch of poison ivy that I’m aware of in my yard, and it happens to be in the one patch of brush I started clearing last week. What were the odds? But here I am, itching away. Good or bad, odds are there to be beaten. 🙂

      • Glad you’ve only got PI in one spot at your house. It seems to be spreading at my place. Even dug some out of my front flower bed last night. Course, I had a long spade, long sleeves and pants and rubber gloves (which went into the trash can right behind the ivy). Not sure I want to go to all that trouble everywhere else.

        Now where did DH put that weed killer??

      • I asked Bob to clean out this patch, and he said, “Okay. Right after the first hard freeze this fall.” LOL!

  2. Marilyn,

    That’s exactly what I’m saying! They buy SOMEONE’S book every day. They are in the business of bringing them into print and in front of the public. Why not us? When the odds are against us, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I choose to be optimistic. spw

    • I’m right there with you, Sandee.

      Now, I admit, I don’t take rejection well. My very first rejection was tough, tough — made me cry. But if I hadn’t managed to hold onto a shred of optimism and tried again, look at everything I would have missed. Getting published literally changed my life — just because I was hopeful (or too stubborn to take no for an answer).

  3. I don’t know if I am an proponent of odds and statistics like you math geeks. 🙂 But I am a firm believer in perseverence, optimism, and hard work. I think those three add up to some pretty good odds, dontcha think?

  4. Marilyn:

    I look at this way, with all the competition out there to get published, not every writer has the drive, the determination and sheer pig-headedness I have. So at some point, I figure they’ll get discouraged. And that just leaves more room in the pool for me. Some of the most talented people I know have never gotten anywhere in life because they gave up too easily.

    The greatest rewards in life come to those who persevere despite the odds.

    • You’re so right, Lynn. My first rejection said basically “don’t bother me again.” I didn’t know until then that I had a stubborn streak a mile long. Tell me I can’t do something, and that makes me want it so much more. I was determined to prove to that editor that I did have what it took. I worked hard, finished a new book, sent it to another editor and sold it.

      Though my sisters would probably tell you I was always pigheaded. 😉

  5. That’s why I can keep submitting when I get a rejection. Eventually, I’ll find the right editor. I also believe that what you did once, you can do again. Maybe just not in the same place.

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