Saturday, January 21, 2012

Confessions of Change: Bitter is not the new reality

* The first change must be an attitude change.

* When I say you, I mean the universal “you” or more specifically me.

If you focus really hard on the numbers, the odds of getting published, the natural instinct is to just accept the fact you have a better chance at winning the lottery. Some people don’t like that comparison because the lottery is a numbers game.

Writing a readable book is much easier to achieve than picking random numbers and hoping a machine picks the same random numbers. Going a step further, writing a readable and marketable book is also easier to achieve, especially if one understands that a good percentage of the books submitted can barely pass the readable stage. You’re odds are simply better.

The more you focus on the numbers, the odds the more likely you’ll end up curled into the fetal position, rocking in the corner and sucking your thumb. Or, become bitter. Extremely, no holds bar bitter. But, the more you focus on the numbers, the odds the more you lose sight of a simple truth. The kind of truth that makes the numbers, the odds a moot point.

There is a lot in this business you can’t control or understand. Accept this as a universal truth. You can’t force someone to publish you. You can’t force a reader to buy your book. You can’t make yourself a bestseller. There is no magic bullet.

Fortunately there is another simple truth that makes this point moot. There is a lot in this business you can control and understand. You can choose to focus on this universal truth to help you unfurl from the ball in the corner. You can choose to take all the passion you use to be bitter and burn the fuel into something you can do.

This isn’t Zen or warm and cuddly advice to lessen the impact of the numbers, the odds. It’s pragmatic advice. You can both sit around and be bitter and despondent or you can read a book on craft. You can do a ton of research to find out the actual percentage of novels a publisher contracts or you can sit down and write. You can put more writing tools in your writing toolbox. Will this magically get your books contracted, read or lauded? Nope, you still can’t control that. You can write out goals of the things you can control and meet or even exceed them.

Because I think it needs to be said, adjusting your attitude doesn’t mean you can’t dream and dream big. You simply have to ask yourself what are you doing to make that dream happen. And then do it.

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