Never Tell Me the Odds





I am not a numbers person. Instead, I turn my mind to words and scenes, to characters and -- as Joni calls them -- plot bombs.

Maybe that's why I can't stand it when people talk about the odds. The odds against a given individual finishing a novel, finding a decent agent for it, selling it to a major publishing house, getting noticed once it's "out there." They talk about the unlikelihood of said given individual still being in the business after the release of two novels, of four, or of making a real living instead of being the family white elephant.

I am not "any given individual," I'm a writer. A novelist, in my case, which means I have to have the hide of a rhino and, in some respects, the myopia as well. So don't tell me, show me, or rub my nose in all the reasons "no one" can make it in this business. Just get the hell out of my way while I'm charging toward a story.

So what about you? Are you daunted by the odds against you? Or can you "suspend disbelief" to smash right past them?

Comments

Joni Rodgers said…
Insightful as always, Colleen. Thanks for posting that.

I was well set for the evil odds of publishing after facing small odds of survival with lymophoma. To remain calm, you have to see yourself standing outside the statistics (because you're SPECIAL, damn it, SPECIAL!)

Gary summed it up in a dark moment when I said to him, "Nine out of ten people do not live past this point."

"Yeah," said Gary. "Sucks to be them."
Jo Anne said…
Joni's right, Colleen. Insightful, as always. And I wish I could leave a response as powerful as Joni's, but I've never faced what she has. (Good for you, Joni!) I have lived through my greatest fears, though. Failed badly at life and come out on the other end whole-hearted.

Therefore, I have no great fear of failure - been there, done that. So screw the odds. What's to stop me? Only me. And I'm gettin' out of my way.

So there! :-)
Suzan Harden said…
Neil Gaiman also had a link to Mr. Hale's column. I have to agree with Colleen and with Mr. Gaiman's comment that he couldn't imagine doing anything else in his life.
Joni,
I *love* Gary's comment! That's a great way of looking at things.

Thanks for the responses, Jo Anne and Suzan. It's terrific to hear from you.

May we all continue to beat the odds!
Jen A. Miller said…
I think the "odds" if there are any, are what you make them. What are the odds of someone wanting to write about my book? If I do zero promo -- then slim to none. But if I mount a strategic PR campaign, and take the time to talk to other people about what their ideas are, and I do the legwork to make sure people take notice -- the odds are a lot better :-)

Jen