Some of you already know—and for those of you who don’t know—I write a weekly blog over at Women & Words. Back in February, I wrote about how my frustration over not being able to succeed in selling a certain nonfiction project led me to hate someone.
This someone has nothing to do with my work (except that she writes in that genre as well) and certainly nothing to do with my failure. I have absolutely no reason to hate her.
Except that she achieved what I wanted.
But why do I hate her and not the so many other writers who also achieved what I wanted? Because I met her and she told me her story. Without going into too many details, she “got lucky” (her words) and got this idea for a book; simultaneously, there was a publisher who was looking for a writer to do a book on that very topic. And just like that, she’d succeeded in getting what I wanted.
I had been riding the proverbial merry-go-round for years, trying to grab the brass ring. But every time I went around and reached for it, it slipped through my fingers. On her very first ride on the damned horse, this person grabbed the ring, and it’s been shining on her finger ever since. She not only sold the project but got a contract for additional books and managed to get on board with one of the top literary agents in the country—the one that I so very much wanted to represent me. Three years later, she has several books out and, I’m sure, more in the works.
She’s a perfectly nice person. Sweet, actually. And she even tried to “help” me by introducing me to her agent. I swallowed the humiliation of a younger newbie “helping” me after I’d been working at this for years and took hope that my willingness to be humbled would pay off. It didn’t.
And so, with each book of hers that comes out, each cool thing I see about her on Facebook, makes me hate her a little more.
It’s completely irrational and unfair to this other writer. And detrimental to me. It’s not good going through life hating people, especially those who don’t really deserve your hatred. It’s psychically damaging, and on a more practical level, it just doesn’t help.
The reason this has come up for me again is because two people in my department —TWO—just got offered positions elsewhere, and job hunting is another hot-button issue for me. It’s another area of my life that simply won’t go the way I want it to.
I decided that after years and years of bending over backwards and flipping cartwheels trying to achieve the things I want to achieve, there are some things I just can’t control. I think luck and/or destiny is involved. People who are successful advise others to “follow your heart,” to “do what you love, the money will follow,” and if you work hard enough, you can achieve the things you want. Well, it’s easy for them to say all of this because they got what they wanted. And, while I would never diminish the hard work that they put in and the dues they paid, I believe that they were also lucky.
How else would you explain why two people who work equally hard and, all things being equal, one succeeds and the other one doesn’t? Doesn’t luck have to play a part in this? Think of all the artists out there (actors, writers, painters, etc.) who bust their asses and never make it.
Luck is not something you can force, or find, or buy. You either have it or you don’t. Therefore, there’s no sense in sweating it.
I’ve decided that I will just continue doing what I enjoy doing because I want to do them. That’s the only reason worth doing them, anyway. “Success” will come or not, but being the captain of one’s ship requires someone liking you enough to give you a promotion.
Unless, of course, you’re a pirate. Then you just take it. :-)