Unless you live in a cave, you heard about all the lottery madness a few weeks ago, with those hundreds of millions of dollars up for grabs. I saw/heard so many warnings about the futility of buying tickets because the odds were hugely against you winning, and I just wanted to put my thumbs in my ears, wiggle my fingers and stick my tongue out at the naysayers. (Not that I bought a ticket. I always think about it, never get around to it.)
Just this past Saturday, Bob and I attended the Jingle Bell drawing in Sapulpa. Every year around Thanksgiving, local businesses give you one ticket for every so many bucks you spend there. Then everyone gathers the middle of December, and they draw prizes — a couple $500, a couple $1000 and the big daddy, $10,000.
Are the odds against you? Sure. Does that mean you shouldn’t give it a shot if you want? Of course not. I don’t care if they claim it’s more likely you’ll catch lightning in a bottle than win the lottery. (Just an aside: they’re totally wrong because I would NEVER try to catch lightning in a bottle, while I MIGHT try the lottery. And since I’ve already proven them wrong, why would I listen to them?)
Twenty-some years ago, when I submitted the manuscript for Within Reach to Silhouette, I didn’t know what the odds were. I just knew I’d written a pretty darn good book and I wanted to be a working writer more than anything. (Actually, writing the book was work. I wanted to be a getting-paid writer.)
After buying the book, my editor mentioned how many unpublished manuscripts the publisher got in a year (in the thousands) and how many she personally bought (in the single digits). Big odds against me being one of the chosen few, right?
But I didn’t know that. Honestly, I was so confidence-challenged back then, if I’d know, I probably never would have submitted. That’s why I say I sold my first book out of ignorance. All I knew was that they published a certain number of good books a month, and I’d written a good book, so maybe, just maybe, they would publish mine.
Someone had to fill those slots. Someone had to win that $10,000. Someone’s going to win the lottery.
Why shouldn’t it be us?