On the eve of my debut YA novel, Lies Beneath (Random House/Delacorte), launching itself into the world, I am, as my mother would say, “completely and utterly discombobulated.” I don’t know what day of the week it is; I forgot to pick up my kids; I stored the milk in the pantry.
It’s like driving in my car, arriving at my destination, then looking around and realizing I have no memory of how I got there. All the scrapped drafts and bitter tears are gone, leaving behind a certain surprise at finding myself where I never dreamed I’d be. It is a humbling place, which begs not only the question of how did I get here, but when will the black-suited man show up at my door to tell me there’s been some mistake?
Don’t get me wrong. There was certainly a lot of hard work and a lot of thankless hours at the computer. But there were also many, many strokes of dumb luck along the way. Any one of these small opportunities could have easily escaped my notice, or shrugged its shoulders and taken a completely different path, leaving me with yet another manuscript collecting dust under my bed. And that’s the message I want to share.
In the words of Neil Gaiman, who recently gave an inspiring commencement address on life as an artist, “Often you will discover that the harder you work…the luckier you will get. But there is luck. And it helps.”
So without further ado, this is:
MY ACKNOWLEDGMENT PAGE TO PURE DUMB LUCK
- To the Famous Author whom I shamelessly approached on Twitter and who agreed, against her better judgment, to give me tips on my abysmal query letter if I promised never ever to reveal her name, thank you. Your generosity of time and experience got me over a mysterious hurdle I may never have overcome on my own.
- To all the agents who rejected my adult fiction because that’s not what I should have been writing. I see that now.
- To the literary agent who got sick and missed my pitch session at my very first writers’ conference. Chances are you wouldn’t have been interested in my MG manuscript anyway, but your last minute substitute was.
- To a 13 year old boy from New Jersey, who pulled my MG manuscript out of his agent/mother’s TBR pile, read it on the sly, and encouraged his mom to sign me.
- To a MG book that didn’t sell (yet), causing a sleep-disturbed night and a crazy dream that made me wake up and think: Mermaid assassins on Lake Superior. Yeah, I could write about that.
- To Johnny Depp for making half-crazed mermaids cool again and fueling a YA trend that–miraculously–I was ahead of.
- And finally, to Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton who decided (probably in an all night chocolate bender) that it would be awesome to have unpublished writers do guest posts for WU. I’m so thankful that I saw the invitation in the first place, let alone that I met with your approval. You gave me my very first audience, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Where ever you are on your writing journey, it’s time to make your own luck. Take a chance on yourself. If something feels scary, or risky, or maybe even a tiny bit stupid, it might be exactly the right thing for you to do. Embrace the many questions you have and never fear the “No,” because without the risk of asking, there will never be a “Yes.” Then, when the dust settles and you have arrived at your destination, you can sit back, take stock, and celebrate the lucky things: the people you’ve met, the mistakes you’ve made, the epiphanies that have epiphed.
You can take satisfaction in the fact that you didn’t overlook even the tiniest crack in the proverbial door and that–bit by bit–that’s how it opened.