There’s a recent article in the Atlantic about Don Johnson, the man who won $6 million dollars from the Tropicana by playing only blackjack. It’s an interesting article because I myself am a gambling enthusiast, and I have always appreciated the nuances of gambling (including the analytics and logic behind it). How does that apply to writing? Well, Don Johnson didn’t win because he was lucky. He won because he negotiated his odds at these casinos, making sure the playing field was stacked toward a skilled player. He didn’t rely on luck or serendipity. He also made sure that he would get something out of it even if he lost (meaning he could somehow recoup his losses). I began to wonder about my own approaches to writing. Am I just merely relying on luck and some skill? Am I not giving myself enough credit, submitting only to non-paying markets or markets that require submission fees? (Side note: I was appalled at how much money I spent last year on submissions fees. I won’t even tell you the amount, but it was enough to put a significant dent in our 2011 taxes.) Perhaps I am doing all of these things when I submit. I think what I need to do is start behaving more like Don Johnson: instead of thinking about it like a purely subjective experience, I should really study the fields I’m submitting to, make sure that the odds are in my favor and that my skill set will be appreciated. Also that there is some benefit to my submission. I do some of this already, but I think I am done submitting tons of stories at once. I am going to really sit down with my stories, really work on them until they cannot be worked on anymore, and then only submit to a few select markets that I think are right for these stories. And where the exposure (I determine) will be beneficial, or I will be paid.
In other news, I am submitting (or have submitted) stories to Pen Parentis, for their 2012 Writing Fellowship, and NPR’s Three Minute Fiction. Pen Parentis is open to parents who have children under age 10. I wrote specially-crafted stories for both contests, which delights me because these are the first pieces of new writing I’ve done in a while. I’m excited about Pen Parentis.
Today I am putting away the laptop and my fanatic husband and I will be watching Kansas play Ohio State in the NCAA Championships (not the Finals yet). I am not a sports fan, but it is a little entertaining to watch my husband get giddy over these games. I like to poke fun. Plus he has promised us some good nachos