Friday, January 19, 2007

I Didn't Get Here By Luck

Oprah makes me hate her now and then.

I know, how can I hate Oprah? And maybe hate is too strong a word. Maybe she annoys me or causes me to want to punch her but not exactly hate.

Why? Why, you ask.

Because she says things like, "I don't believe in luck."

She doesn't think she's lucky. She thinks she worked her butt off and that is what made her the richest woman on the planet. But every day millions of people work their butt off and the majority of them don't earn 1/nth of what she does.

People make us believe that if we find what we love (which, hello?, not that easy for some of us) and we work really hard at it and don't give up? We will succeed.

I say, there are many, many people who work hard at what they love and never succeed. And I don't mean succeed to be making billions of dollars. I mean succeed in the sense of making a living that you can actually live on. I don't mean being on television or in the media. I mean making ends meet. Sure you can do what you love and have a regular job. And if you can manage that and make ends meet, great.

But I'm sure she was not the only hard-working woman applying for the jobs she applied for throughout her life. She was beating someone out. And each time she got the job, someone else didn't. And really? There is room for only one Oprah out there. Isn't there? Honestly?

Oprah mentioned recently that Bill Gates thinks he's lucky. He thinks he worked hard and managed (luck) to get the breaks he needed to make it big. I agree. (Oprah does not. She said so.)

I also tend to think that some writers get lucky. There are fabulous books out there that deserved to get published. Fabulous books out there that are published but deserve more recognition. And yet, they're not. I've read amazing manuscripts that for one reason or another didn't get published. Reasons like there was a cat in the story and the editor's cat had just died so she didn't have the heart to work on a book with a cat in it. (True story) You may ask why then if it's so great didn't another publisher publish it. Well, there are also countless stories of fabulous, award winning books that were submitted to 8 billion (ok, I'll admit, a bit of an exaggeration here) editors before someone would buy the manuscript. Shall I mention Harry Potter and all the editors that turned that down? Maybe they liked it but didn't think it would sell. Maybe they were in a bad mood so everything they read that day sounded like crap. Maybe it wasn't their cup of tea. Maybe their cat had died. There are 8 billion (no exaggeration here) reasons why they didn't want to buy it.

When I say someone is lucky I don't mean they don't deserve what they get, because they usually do. Oprah totally deserves what she has. So does Bill Gates. So do most writers out there. (Come on, you're telling me you never read a book that had no business being published?) Luck does not mean you didn't work hard and deserve what you reaped. It means the opportunity presented itself for all your hard work to be recognized.

And as an artist, whether you are a writer or painter or photographer, etc, sharing your work with the world is an opportunity not all of us are granted. Creating is the passion but sharing is just as important. Maybe not for everyone. Maybe some people are happy just producing their work. Maybe it's just me.

Would you be happy writing something that no one would read? Would you be happy putting your photos in a shoebox for your eyes only? Are family and friends enough of an audience? Or do you need someone else to appreciate your work? Maybe we don't NEED someone to appreciate it, but does it make it seem sweeter when someone does?

What is this need for approval? And am I the only one who has it?


CursingMama said...

I think Oprah has lost touch with reality. I've suspected it for quite a while (the favorite things shows just killed me)but her cross country trip with Gale sealed the deal for me.

I still like some Oprah stuff - but sometimes I just shake my head and wonder who filled her head with what...

Amanda Sue said...

she is strange. how can you be that wealthy, though, and maintain a sense of normalcy?

has anyone else noticed that she is a habitual interrupter? it totally annoys me.

but maybe it doesn't annoy me that much, cause i keep on watching. and i own nate burkus towels.

Tami said...

Heidi, I tell myself that I don't care if I never have a second or third book published (Next month will make 5 years without a sale - I think the hardcover will be out of print soon too) But in my heart, I need to have another book on the shelves to share. I question all this time I put into my PB's and MG's when I could be reading, cross stitching, playing games on the computer, but then I hear another "my manuscript was rejected 23 times before it went on to be a bestseller" story, and I keep plugging along. I'm probably nuts, but there it is.

If you love doing it . . . keep at it!

And on that note . . . did you see our own Cindy Lord took a Newbury honor today? And the Schneider Family Book Award (books with disabilities - it meant so much to her). And to think Rules almost wasn't published!

bethiclaus said...

I threw my shoe at my television that day! HATE!

The Queen Mama said...

I think we all have that need for validation, some of us on more levels than others. I find the older I get, the less I seek validation from outsiders. I will always value the opinions of people who are close to me, though.

Oprah lost me when she started having that one author on so often, something about ships and souls and other stuff that sounded very mumbo-jumbo to me. Apologies if you like that author, by the way.