Donna Everhart

It’s Just Like Playing The Lottery

I follow several blogs and on one of them recently, there was a reference to an article written in SALON:  where the author didn’t have much luck getting her book published.  She had moved to a different continent just to write it, spent years researching and writing, sent it to her agent and then, she waited.  When nothing came of it, she was crushed – her big dream squashed.

After reading this, I started thinking about the writer’s life and how closely it resembles gambling, even down to the addictive quality of it.  Like going to your local 7-11 or Stop-N-Go and purchasing a “Pick Three” or some other lottery ticket, you stare with anticipation at the manuscript you just finished, and think this just might be THE winning ticket.  But, you can only guess as to whether or not you have anything worth reading, much less worth selling…, and besides, there are a lot of other people who think they potentially have the winning ticket too.

You send your manuscript out to agents.   No matching number?  You buy another ticket – or that is – you send out to more agents – and wait again.  And again…and again.  If you do hit the jackpot and acquire an agent, you’ve won something big and the feeling is euphoric!

But then, the biggest gamble of all is, will you be published?  Now, you and your agent are both playing, and you stand a better chance.  He/she sends your manuscript out to editors and it starts all over.  You’re playing the slot machines with this, will you find the perfect match?  Cherry, Cherry, Star!  Meanwhile, next to you, someone is jumping up and down – and money is pouring out of the machine – a publishing contract!  Based on the publishing climate, the odds of that seem to closely align to winning the mega-jackpot.  Not very high, but it does happen as we can see from the daily updates on new deals at Publisher’s Marketplace: 

How do writers cope with all of this?  It’s got to be the addictive quality associated with that little “high” you get as you move through the various phases of a writing life.  The pleasure you feel from the positive feedback from an editor helping you polish your work, the encouragement from your agent, or maybe landing that elusive publishing contract.  Each is like a shot of adrenalin, your mood is elevated and you want to feel that way over and over again.

And, each time you write something new, you go back and purchase another lottery ticket, or pull the lever on the slot machine.  You keep on writing because you have what you believe just might be, yes, it could very well be, THE winning number.

3 thoughts on “It’s Just Like Playing The Lottery”

  1. Hi Donna,

    I couldn’t find your email address, but wanted to say that was a very kind comment you left for Nicholas J this morning. I did click on his link and must say, the video just made me sad.

    Have a good holiday.

  2. Hell, you have tougher than that. You can’t submit to one agent and fold the tent. And moving to another continent? Some people who have been published should do that.

    1. Hey JD, I had to laugh at that last comment. You are funny. I can think of a few people I’d like to see go…somewhere.

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