Monday, 11 February 2019

The Positive Writer: Misha Herwin



“If you will it, they will come.” 
Not quite the quote from “Field of Dreams” but it does sum up what we are constantly being urged to believe− that if we want it enough, then lo and behold it will happen. The books will sell by the million, the bidding wars will be furious and no sooner than you have finished writing one book, your faithful readers will be clamouring for more.

Of course this tenet admits that none of this will happen without hard work. The books must be written and most importantly edited and proof read. An agent must be found, the agent will then sell the work to a publisher, who will promote the writer and his/her work until they reach such a peak of fame that further publicity will be virtually unnecessary. 

If however this particular route remains stubbornly shut, then all is not lost. There are many writers making a good living through self-publishing their work. Blogging, tweeting, interacting on social media will all bring its rewards. Books will be sold, money will be made and in the final twist to the tail big time traditional publishers will be fighting to publish the next novel.

And all this will happen because you believe in yourself.

Or will it?

I admit that without self-belief nothing will happen. The books will remain un-written, or lurking for ever on a hard drive. Even if they are self-published only a few people, mostly friends and family will ever read them. Opportunities will be missed, chances not taken.

So what is to be done?

I have a friend who believes in The Law of Attraction. He is sure that visualising success has led to a huge increase in his business, so that he has gone from a terrible winter when he had no work coming in and did not know how he was going to pay next month’s bills, to having almost more work than he can handle.
Did chanting a mantra draw in the clients?
I must admit that I am not totally sceptical. I can see that visualising success can give a writer the confidence to send a story to an anthology, a manuscript to a publisher, approach a book-blogger, comment on a forum and all the other things needed to promote ourselves and our books.

There is, however, one important element that is beyond our control and that is luck. You can chant as hard as you like, work your socks off but if you are not lucky, you still won’t make it. There are very good writers out there who are yet to be published, who possibly will never be published and not so good writers who are best-sellers. The latter will tell you that they worked hard for their success and most probably they did, but there is a strong chance that there was an element of luck in what happened for them.

To quote comedian, Romesh Ranganathan, the The Guardian “All those people who tell you how they willed their success into reality are beneficiaries of luck. I would not have succeeded as a comedian had I not had some hugely lucky breaks.”

Is this then a cause for despair for those of us that haven’t yet made thousands, let alone millions from our writing, or who maybe haven’t made any money at all?

There are things you can do to increase your chances of being lucky. Hard work and net-working are some of these− Romesh attributes his success to the support of fellow comedian Sean Walsh. So is saying yes to anything that might lead somewhere, or even to those things that won’t. As my best friend from when I was seven says “Throw your bread on the water in the hope that it comes back as buttered toast.”

And if it doesn’t?

Most of us who write will do it anyway. It’s a love, a compulsion. It’s what keeps us going and saves us from going mad.

What I would be interested to know is if any of my fellow writers have had a lucky break, or whether it’s all been a long hard slog.

And if it hasn’t happened for you, yet, then in this year of the pig, I wish you the best of luck.




  

3 comments:

Andrew Crofts said...

We certainly need those lucky breaks, but statistics also play a part. If you have ten books out in the market you are at least ten times as likely to land the life changing film deal as if you have one, (actually more than ten because of the cumulative effect of brand awareness etc), if you keep writing for forty years you are at least forty times more likely than if you give up after a year. But maybe that's just another form of "working hard".

Susan Price said...

You may think the element of luck is beyond your control but I can sell you a special candle, infused with herbs and spells, which will magnify your luck when you light it -- only £200 and worth every penny.
But of course I had luck - in the form of help from generous older writers (who I didn't even know), acquiring an excellent agent who was nearing the end of her career and prepared to give a sucker an even break, and her sending my book to Phyllis Hunt of Faber, the best editor I've ever worked with, who gave me a lot of her time and effort, in a way I'm not sure an editor in today's climate could afford to do.

Umberto Tosi said...

Most of us, including with myself, can thank their lucky stars just to be alive and kicking (and writing) every day when you think about the odds against coming into this world and surviving it. The odds are also against a novel becoming a best seller - although it has to be written to have any odds in the first place. I've read many a novel - and manuscript - every bit as good (or better) than the most successful of books, yet obscure. One has to conclude the difference is an extra helping of luck. I say, write it and send it forth and wish it luck, then keep writing. It's the best revenge.