Get Lucky

ShamrockThey say you have to create your own luck. Things just don’t happen by chance. It takes hard work and planning, honing skills and nurturing creativity. You must study your market, know your audience. Stay true to yourself, but don’t be afraid to pivot. Overnight success takes at least a decade. And not everyone is meant to make it. After all, talent will only take you so far.

The truth is dumb luck plays a big part in success. Sometimes, you simply are in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, and the right people notice.

Who knew we wanted to read a Brit’s diary? Who could have imagined wizard children would be compelling? From sparkling vampires to a set number of Grey, it’s the unexpected (and oft-rejected) in Literature that sparks the next “big thing” that readers and publishers and marketers want.

And then that becomes the only thing they are looking for.

As an artist or businessperson, you have two choices: go with that flow or carve your own path.

People do find success chasing trends. A round of golf claps to them. I think that would end up being an exhausting and passionless pursuit. It’s more technical and less of an art. Paint by numbers, if you will. That’s not to say lovely work can’t happen that way, but how long can one sustain the chase?

There is luck to be found in what I like to call “ravenous genres” such as Romance, Mystery/Suspense, Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Book series do well with readers who can not get enough good stuff and are very open to reading unknown/new authors. If you have those bones in you, write that way. If you want to dabble in more than one genre, pick your pen names so you can market yourself/your work accordingly. Audiences don’t “travel” the way we would hope they would.

Young Adult is another space where authors can create stories and series that just might jump the fence and become popular amongst ol’ adults. If your passion takes you in that direction, follow it.

For those of us in the vast wilderness of Women’s Literature, it can be a long walk in the dark. Chick Lit seems to be a topic again lately, as the pioneers of it have grown up, their writing evolved and new works released, but it seems to remain a muddy puddle. The term is still seen as disparaging. By that, readers are kept away from its newer authors who are also helping the genre evolve. I have been begging the industry to either embrace the term or come up with something better so we can help readers who want that middle ground between “serious” Fiction and bodice-ripping Romance find those books. Because that is the land wherein Chick Lit resides. It’s the Rhode Island of Fiction. A tiny, lovely place that you have to squint to find on a map. 

 

Today, there is a huge amount of content available. Whether it’s television series, movies, music or books, anyone can be a “creator” now, and that is both wonderful and overwhelming. Luck becomes the needed element in one’s success. How does one conjure up something as random as that?

Tenacity is required. The desire to become better at your craft is non-negotiable. Listen to your critics, and develop your inner one. You have to put yourself out there, which is not easy if you are an introvert like most artists. Make yourself known in your community and then grow that community. That whole “power in numbers” thing is valid. It does take a village.

Let’s be honest: Luck is something you step in. But you have to be active in order to stumble upon it. So, get out there and stomp your ground. If you feel you are out there alone, fumbling in the dark, perhaps you are paving the way to the next big thing. Shine that light, darling.

Meh

I am exhausted. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. Creatively.

And who isn’t?

This artist’s life is not easy. When you are pushing (forcing) your creative work through with what energy you have left after toiling at a day job (fact: even if you love your day job, it becomes toil because you should/would rather be writing your book, crafting your screenplay, painting your canvas, perfecting a song or molding your clay), there comes a point where you will utterly flatline.

I am at that point.

A malingering malaise creeps in and nothing (productive) gets done. This is different than a creative block. This is different than depression. This is depletion. This is the embodiment of meh.

I am meh.

This is not a complaint or an invitation to a pity party, a cry for help or support. It’s a statement of sad fact. (Spoiler alert: This, too, shall pass.)

Let’s be real: The end of the year/first of the year is basically a four-month block of meh. There is so much to do/get done with so many deadlines (many of which are tax related and how fun is that?), so the meh I feel at the mo’ should be of no surprise. It’s not, really. But it is disappointing.

I thought I would have my third novel done by now.

I thought I would have more accomplished with the L.A.L.A. Society by now.

I thought I’d have my podcast set up by now.

I thought I would have seen The Wife by now.

I thought I would be in my new life by now.

None of what I thought I would do, be or have by now has come to fruition. And so what? The true job of life is to fuck up your plans. It keeps you on your toes. It opens up new avenues and unexpected inspiration.

It can also piss you off.

Let’s call it out: Anyone who makes the creative life look easy has a trust fund, a spouse/life-partner to share the financial burden and/or is on some sort of amphetamine. Seriously. This shit is hard. It is not Instagrammable. (And Instagrammable should not be recognized by spell check.) It is a lot of work with a lot of work piled on top of it.

And, still, it’s the only thing we really want to do, no matter how challenging it might be. So when we are too depleted to do it, it’s an absolute turd burger. It’s horrid to really want to do something and simply not have the mojo to do it.

Churchill said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going!” The problem for me is that I want to rush and run and hurry-the-fuck-up to get to the other side. Instead, what actually needs to happen is for me to take a nice, leisurely stroll. Slow down (which is beyond counterintuitive because, when I get home, I become an inert lump). Allow the energy to be restored.

In other words: Stop fucking pushing so hard.

But, as artists, we don’t know how to do that. The next project (or three) is fighting to get out. We are rushing to get through this one so we can get on to the next and the next because there is always so much to do. And that’s kind of wonderful. As well as insane.

There’s really no way to pace yourself when you are an artist. You have to work when the muse speaks. But if she’s a yappy broad, like mine is, it’s hard to take a break until you find yourself broken down.

That’s where I am now — on the proverbial side of the road, sitting there with an empty tank. And the only thing that’s going to refuel it is time.

And this is where patience would come in handy.