A Room Full of Psychics and Nobody’s Rich

I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.

All the noise, all the advice, all the bloggers hashing over whether print is dead, epub vs. traditional; the whole thing is just starting to sound like a cacophony of chaos.

Why?

Because nobody knows anything. I mean, of course people know things. I’m not saying we’re all a bunch of quaking airheads out here. But nobody can answer the BIG questions. Questions like, “How do I succeed?” and “Why do some books succeed, and some books of equal or better quality fail?” and “How do I stand out enough from all of the other authors who may very well be as good or better than I am?”

Everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone’s got their spin on the matter. But you know what? If they really knew they’d get out there and do it.

We’ve got a room full of psychics here and none of us has hit the lottery. And the guy that has hit the lottery? You can’t listen to him either. I mean look at this guy: he was living in a trailer park before he blew his child support payments on beer and the one ticket that changed everything.

Maybe I’m stretching that metaphor a little, but I guess what I’m trying to say is this.

There are no experts. Sure there are people out there who have good advice, even great advice. But nobody has the magic bullet. Nobody can tell you, “This. This is what works. Do this and you will succeed.”

Why? Because success isn’t a formula.

Well it is in a way, but it’s not a formula anyone wants to hear. The formula is, as far as I can tell, Hard Work + Luck = Success.

The first term is easy. Well okay, no it’s not easy. But it’s simple. There are plenty of people willing to get out there and do the work. But it’s the second one that’s so infuriatingly elusive. And it’s just as important.

We don’t like to think about luck. We like to believe that if we succeed it’s because we’ve done something right. We look to successful people for counsel and advice, and we follow their words as if they were gospel. On the other hand, we tend to look at a bum on the street and we think, “That guy is probably just lazy. If he got a job and stopped drinking he’d have a better life.”

We don’t like to believe that it’s possibly to succeed simply because you were in the right place at the right time. And we don’t like to think that we can work and work all our lives and not do anything “wrong” and still fail to find the success we’re chasing.

And please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying hard work isn’t important. It is possible to miss life’s opportunities because we were lazy or unprepared. We should always strive to learn and improve and be the best at whatever it is we want to do.

But sometimes it’s not enough.

We’re not all going to be the next Amanda Hocking (as she so humbly points out in this fantastic and eye-opening post.) We’re not all going to make it big.

It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not because we’re losers.

Losers are the ones who give up. Losers are the ones who say, “I could never write a book.” Losers are the ones who look at the Amanda Hockings of the world and think, “I could never be that successful.” Losers are the ones who look at the long odds and go home.

So don’t be a loser.

Because I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know anyone else that does either. But I have to believe that someone within this blog’s limited reach is going to hit it big one day. Somebody is going to turn out to be that person that everyone looks at and says, “That guy started out in some trailer park, but one bright day he went to buy beer with his child support payment and the rest is history.”

Maybe it’ll be you. Maybe it’ll be me.

To tell you the truth, I’m really kind of hoping that it’s me.

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12 responses to “A Room Full of Psychics and Nobody’s Rich

  1. Hard Work = Luck = Success. That seems the gist of it all right. Destiny part of it too. Some guy named Paul wrote a dozen letters 2,000 years ago and look how that turned out. Can you imagine ? A dozen letters. Unbelievable.

  2. FANTASTIC post!!!! Love everything about it, especially the part that if you have the answer… get out there and do it!!! There can be many factors that lead to success, and “success” may be defined quite differently for many different folks, but I definitely agree that hard work is the constant/root factor in the equation.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderfully written post! 🙂

  3. “Success”… it’s such a heavy term, weighed down with expectation and is so smug, so full of itself because everybody wants a piece of it for themselves. I think we each need to consider what we call “success” – it’s different for everyone.

    I guess in writer-land, success is pretty much linked to “published” or “not published”. I’m in the second category and who knows if I’ll ever make it to the first… But for me, I claim a new success every day just by writing my blog article. For now, that’s enough.

    I liked your article. Keep up the good work, Albert!

  4. That’s a great photo!

  5. You just beautifully summed up everything I have thought/felt about finding success. I think the more you try and fail, the better the odds of success, however you personally define it.

  6. Amen! You hit the nail on the head.

    Thanks.

  7. Being in the right place at the right time matters a lot and people forget that. The damned Puritan work ethic of this country passes judgment on those that just can’t seem to make it in this world no matter how hard they work. Nonetheless, it does seem that the more you put out there the luckier you get.

    If Luck = Inspiration + Perspiration and Hard Work + Luck = Success then you’ve got two parts work to one part inspiration. Maybe those damned Puritans had something after all. Who knows.

    Great post. Love the picture by the way.

  8. Great post, Albert! I just attended a writing conference this weekend that debated these issues again and again. There is no right answer. Ultimately, we’re in the wild, wild west of publishing in the 21st century. It’s disheartening at times, cause you don’t know how to prepare, but it’s exciting too. Years from now people will be writing about the writing process in the 2000’s! lol. The panelists I listened to ranged from one extreme to the next, so it comes down to what avenue works for each writer individually. I can only encourage other writers and hope they do the same for me cause regardless of the path we take to get there, we’re all hoping to be published. Great writing, Albert, thanks for sharing.

    P.S. If you’re interested in hearing about some of the speakers I listened to on this topic, I just posted about the conference on my blog. Josie Brown is a lot like Kristen Lamb in her love of social media, and Ted Weinstein was an agent who asked some pretty thought provoking questions encouraging all writers to think about writing as a career and a business. http://jesswords10.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-do-re-mi-of-conference-attending/

  9. Super Awesome Post! Wow! Success is such a ‘big’ word with a ton of fear tightly wrapped around it. Plenty people spend their entire life trying to grasp at success, and die trying. But tis better to die trying then to have never tried at all, right? Albert, you write fine posts.

  10. Reminds me of what Johnny Carson used to say. “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Best of luck to you, Albert. You clearly have the hard work part down.

  11. Maybe it will be you and someone else. It’s a big world. 🙂

  12. A new spin to preparedness + opportunity = success. It is true especially if we want to keep it.

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