I was at a writer’s conference recently where various speakers took the stage to give their version of “The Marvel That Is Me.” speech.
One performed the, “Aw, shucks, I’m just a regular guy, writing regular guy stuff,” talk.
Another chose the “Forgive my tears but I find myself and my professional journey unbearably touching” talk.
And the third delivered the, “I deserve my success because I worked way harder, way longer than any of you slackers” speech.
This is not to imply that my presentations are any less riddled with narcissism. The point is that all these presenters were attempting to create a coherent narrative of why they had succeeded in a realm where so many fail.
And, as annoying as these speeches can be, they address a subject that attendees at writers’ conferences are eager to hear about. The question of -- What separates the speakers from the listeners? What information can be gleaned to transform today’s listeners into tomorrow’s speakers?
Some writers may believe the narratives they trot out for the unpublished. But most of the writers I know are privately, just as flummoxed by their good fortune as their conference audiences. And whereas the wanna-bes may believe that their lives will be bliss evermore once they get published, the old-timers know that success is punctuated with failure and that you win a few, and lose all the rest.
Rejections are sprinkled throughout, but with each we worry that our most recent success will be our last with nothing ahead but the hell of the has-beens and used-to-bes.
Getting published is one hurdle. Staying published is another. And both rely largely on chance and the changing whim of fashion and finance ... or in other words; Luck.
The luck to find the right editor at the right house for the right book at the right time.
How maddening to know that we can work so damn hard, and still be at the mercy of luck! On the other hand, how fabulous that luck can still strike!
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