It’s like eighty degrees outside my door, so it’s safe to say that spring is finally here. Whenever spring begins in the Bay Area I start to get nostalgic for my college days. It doesn’t happen during the winter–probably because the SF (and even East Bay) winters are significantly colder than the winter down in Palo Alto, where I went to school (at Stanford).
The first five years after college, I still had definite feelings of longing for the environment I’d experienced during my junior and senior years. I’d lived in a vegetarian co-op located on top of a hill in a huge, rambling mansion. I made lots of very close friends there, developed a lot as a person, and took pretty excessive amounts of hallucinogenic drugs. I’m still close with many of my fellow Synergy residents, to the point where, if my wife meets a college friend, she’s surprised if they didn’t live in Synergy.
I turned 35 in November, and I’ve been feeling my years. If I’m not middle-aged right now, I’m certainly approaching it. Almost certainly more than 2/5ths of the way to the grave. Even my literary novel, which is about twenty-five year olds, is about a time very far in the past (and my YA novels? Forget about it. I am twenty years older than the protagonist in the proposal I just turned in!)
Okay I don’t know where I was going with this. I am taking the day off from serious work. I continue to feel very pleased about having an agent. When I can finally reveal the story (which will hopefully be in a few months), you’re gonna be like wtf. It’s such a quintessentially publishing-industry story. What’s funny is that almost all authors have these crazy stories of how the sausage gets made, but we don’t share them, because in some way they reflect upon our own abilities and our own commercial viability.
I’m a good writer, but mostly the whole thing feels like luck. I don’t feel ashamed of my ups and downs, because both the successes and the failures aren’t really about my abilities. So much in life is good fortune.
People used to believe in fate. You were born with a destiny. You would face certain challenges, certain encounters, and success or victory was foreordained. I think that’s true. We all have a fate. We are all bullets being fired at a target we can’t see, speeding through the air thinking, “I’m doing it! I’m going so fast! I’m going really fast! I’m really making progress!” But the explosion that set us on our way is long behind us, and our ability to contribute to or alter our flight path is pretty limited.
I’m not going to google it, but I think there’s data showing that a strong belief in fate, and in the role of luck when it comes to success, actually has benefits. For one thing, people who believe in the role of luck tend to be less prejudiced against women, for some reason, than people who believe in the meritocracy. If you believe in the role of luck, you’re more resilient when it comes to failure. Like, oh okay, I had bad luck, let me try again. Or not try again! But I don’t need to internalize this. This was all luck.