Monday, January 9, 2012

Longshots

Lately, we hear in the news how the concept of working hard, sacrifice and opportunity is not enough to be successful. It helps, but it’s not enough.  At one point in our lives we all have pondered what’s the secret of success. Is it money? It will certainly open doors, allow room for failures (i.e. keep writing books no matter how dismally they do sales-wise) and create opportunities. Yet, there are many wealthy people who can never hope to be anything more than a socialite, because they have no valuable skill. Is it talent then? I know a few very talented individuals that are incredibly unsuccessful. Networking? Who you know is important, but then again how many children of celebrities fail miserably trying to emulate their parents? And they have money too. How about good old-fashioned hard work? I also know my share of extremely frugal, hard working people who basically live from paycheck to paycheck. So how about unwavering focus, drive, taking risks and dedication? Nope, I’ve been trying to make a career out of my creations--whether in books, graphic novels, scripts--for nearly fourteen years and I’m still climbing that mountain with no zenith in site. Opportunity? I live in the Land of Opportunity, right smack in the middle of Tinsel Town; opportunity lives here. It goes without saying that this is a town filled with hopefuls. So it must be a combination of all this elements, you say. And I agree, but there are still people who have all of these traits and still have nothing.

So we reach the part of the conversation where we start dwelling in metaphysics and philosophy: luck, destiny, karma, divine intervention, synchronicity, causality, casualty, star alignments and any number of philosophical explanations. We can even make an argument for meme theory: the propagation of ideas through units that self-replicate, mutate and are passed down like a gene, but somehow propagate as if it were a mental virus. Maybe, who knows? How else can we explain Sheridan Simove’s bestseller What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex, or someone getting millions of hits in YouTube by posting some asinine video? “Ah! The depths of humanity’s absurdity,” the nihilist in me says. My creative side just wants to jump off a bridge hoping to land headfirst.

I’m one of those who believe each one of us writes their own ticket; you take out what you put in. Yet, I can’t ignore the fact that “Lady Luck” (for lack of a better term) seems to have a lot to do with being successful. For example, what would have happened if Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury's chairman, didn’t like the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Would The Hunt for Red October have reached the New York Times best seller list if then-President Ronald Reagan had not openly praised it at a televised press conference? What if Elaine Griffiths didn’t convince her friend, Susan Dagnall–who worked for a publishing house–to consider the work of her former teacher, J.R.R. Tolkien, for publication? Food for thought.

Keep on Running!

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