Yup, I was in Sin City last week. And like most everything else in my life, I was struck by some of the parallels in my Vegas adventures vs my writing adventures. So, it's time for another 7 Reasons Why!
1. It's a crapshoot.
When gambling, I like to feel like I have some control. Slots can be addictive, mindless fun, but games like blackjack and craps where I actually have to make decisions provide the illusion that I have some say in the matter.
In publishing, there are things you can control, and things you can't. You can practice and improve your craft. Go through rewrites and edits until your eyes bleed. Create the best, most polished manuscript you are capable of. But after that, it comes down to things like timing, luck, and subjective taste (why do I feel like the AA Serenity Prayer would be appropriate here?)
2. There's always that nagging feeling you should quit.
Gambling is like the law of gravity: what goes up must come down. The key is to walk away when you're up and before you go back down. More often than not, that doesn't happen. I enjoy gambling too much to walk away from a table if I've only been there 20 minutes, even if I'm up. So when I feel things starting to downswing before I'm ready, I'm always faced with the difficult decision of walking away or playing on to the bitter end.
I think any writer has wondered at some point if they should just walk away, give up. Cut their losses. It's definitely crossed my mind more than once. But I'm a bitter end kind of gal. That kind of persistence doesn't typically pay off in Vegas. I can only hope it pays off in publishing.
3. There are a lot of impostors.
Walking down the strip one afternoon, I passed a poster for a show called "American Superstars" featuring impersonators of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, etc. Why anybody would pay to see the fake version is beyond me, but to each his own I guess.
The other day I was reading a book similar to another in the same genre, and I came across a scene that was eerily close to said book. Close enough that it annoyed me. I don't want to pick up a book by a completely different author and feel like I'm re-reading the same book twice. I do understand that coincidences happen, but judging from some agent blogs out there, there are a lot of wannabes out there in the slush who think they are the next fill in the blank.
4. Moderation is key.
I was in Vegas almost exactly 72 hours--3 full days. From my experience, almost a perfect length. I've done a 5-day Vegas trip before. It's exhausting. Overkill, really.
As you may have noted by my word count in the side bar, I haven't been going full steam with my WIP the past month. That doesn't mean I've lost interest in it, or in writing in general. Just needed some time to recharge. My last manuscript (Charm Bracelet) I wrote in a couple months (too fast). When I was querying that, I started immediately on The Revengeful. I didn't want to go and just write another hurried piece of crap. I'm making an effort to be patient and get it done right this time, even if that means letting it marinate a bit. Even if it killsssss me. :)
5. It ain't glamorous.
Did you guys see The Hangover? Yeah, it would be nice if we could all afford villa suites at Caesars and have hilarious, face-to-face encounters with Mike Tyson (actually, I have zero desire to meet Mike Tyson). But there is a seedy side to Las Vegas, where people are broke and homeless because of their gambling addictions, and men line the sidewalk hawking advertisements for call girls.
Similarly, publishing is not all about six-figure advances and country-wide book signings. Most published authors need a day job to sustain a viable income. And it's not about writing in a lofty ivory tower. I generally prefer on the couch, in my PJs, while my dog vies for attention vs the laptop.
6. We're never satisfied.
Winning money is addictive (duh). When I'm playing, I try to set myself a limit, eg, "If I'm up X amount of dollars, I will walk away then." And then I hit X, and I make a new deal with myself...just one more hand...
I remember a few years ago when I told myself I'd be happy just to finish writing a book, even if it didn't get published. Ummmm...allow me to roll on the ground in hysterics for a few minutes. I realize now that will never satisfy me. I won't be satisfied until I'm published. And even then, I probably won't be satisfied until I'm not only published, but making a living off of it. And even then...
7. We never stop hoping.
No matter how much I lost on my last trip there, on the plane trip to Las Vegas I'm always feeling the same thing. I'm feeling lucky! Similar to the feeling of when we have a new, shiny manuscript and we hit send on that first query. It doesn't matter what happened in the past. This time, good things are going to happen. Right?