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Old 03-13-2018, 05:31 AM   #106
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Reminds me a bit of the golfer Gary Player, who, after being accused of being lucky, said, "The more I practice, the luckier I get."
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:58 AM   #107
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To understand the Burroughs quote you need to take a peek at his career. From Wikipedia:
Quote:
By 1911, after seven years of low wages as a pencil-sharpener wholesaler; Burroughs began to write fiction. [...] In 1929, he recalled thinking that

...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.
Then look at his output in the first three years of publication: Tarzan, Barsoom, Pellucidar, The Mucker, Outlaw of Torn, The Mad King.

Not only was he prolific, he was playing the field. To me it really does look like he was hedging his bets, perhaps thinking that the people had to like at least one of these story lines.
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Old 03-13-2018, 02:15 PM   #108
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I have this vague memory of CS Lewis and Tolkien and something like, "Oh no, not another f.....g elf!" Probably apocryphal.
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:18 PM   #109
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I have this vague memory of CS Lewis and Tolkien and something like, "Oh no, not another f.....g elf!" Probably apocryphal.
Is it wrong that I desperately want that to be a real quote from Tolkien? Because that's what I used to say when I was reading his books. Except for the Hobbit (the Hobbit was all about furry toes. Not many elves).
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:39 PM   #110
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Not sure about the Dylan reference, but I think the Edgar Rice Burroughs quote is also acknowledging the luck-factor. Write enough and not only will you get better (we hope) but you'll also get more tickets in the lottery called public-appeal. Or: Luck happens to those who put themselves in its way.
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Reminds me a bit of the golfer Gary Player, who, after being accused of being lucky, said, "The more I practice, the luckier I get."
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Originally Posted by gmw View Post

Not only was he prolific, he was playing the field. To me it really does look like he was hedging his bets, perhaps thinking that the people had to like at least one of these story lines.
I hadn't thought of it that way, but yeah. If you're writing for an audience of more than yourself and your literary buddies, then figuring out how to resonate with them is part of the job.

Some snobs elite artistes maintain that popularity doesn't equal quality, and obviously by whatever particular standard they are applying (which sometimes seems to be nothing other than 'popular=not good') they are correct, but for writers hoping to be popular...i.e. reach people, spread a message, or just make living, popularity really IS the sign that they are doing it well, and figuring out how to do that is a key.

Kind of a tautology, I guess (popularity is quality if the quality you're going for is being popular), but an often ignored one.

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Old 03-14-2018, 11:34 PM   #111
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On the subject of luck, see this Scientific American article: The Role of Luck in Life Success Is Far Greater Than We Realized.

Quote:
[For this simulation] The Italian researchers stuck a large number of hypothetical individuals ("agents") with different degrees of "talent" into a square world and let their lives unfold over the course of their entire worklife. They defined talent as whatever set of personal characteristics allow a person to exploit lucky opportunities (I've argued elsewhere that this is a reasonable definition of talent).
[...]
What did they find? Well, first they replicated the well known "Pareto Principle", which predicts that a small number of people will end up achieving the success of most of the population (Richard Koch refers to it as the "80/20 principle"). In the final outcome of the 40-year simulation, while talent was normally distributed, success was not. The 20 most successful individuals held 44% of the total amount of success, while almost half of the population remained under 10 units of success (which was the initial starting condition). This is consistent with real-world data, although there is some suggestion that in the real world, wealth success is even more unevenly distributed, with just eight men owning the same wealth as the poorest half of the world.
[...]
However, talent was definitely not sufficient because the most talented individuals were rarely the most successful. In general, mediocre-but-lucky people were much more successful than more-talented-but-unlucky individuals. The most successful agents tended to be those who were only slightly above average in talent but with a lot of luck in their lives.
So it helps to be good, but it helps even more to be lucky.
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Old 03-15-2018, 07:03 AM   #112
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Interesting. The question is, how do you get lucky? And can you improve your chances? My only thought on that is that you have to practice, practice, practice in your chosen field in order to increase your chances of getting "lucky". The author of Embrace the Chaos, Bob Miglani, says "[people] become lucky by studying, working and refining their craft."
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Old 03-16-2018, 01:35 AM   #113
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Interesting. The question is, how do you get lucky? And can you improve your chances? My only thought on that is that you have to practice, practice, practice in your chosen field in order to increase your chances of getting "lucky". The author of Embrace the Chaos, Bob Miglani, says "[people] become lucky by studying, working and refining their craft."
I think it all goes hand-in-hand. By continuing to practice, and by continuing to publish, you are doing multiple things at once:

* You are hopefully getting better so that when your chance does arrive you won't miss out because of stupid beginner mistakes.

* Each time you publish you are buying another ticket in the "notice me" lottery. This time you just might gain the notice of people that will make a difference; this time you just might find a good match between what you've written and what the people (who are currently looking) are wanting to read.

* By publishing regularly you are keeping some books up near the top of the lists, and so improving the chances that people will actually notice you. (Unless you're making good sales your books quickly sink far down in the lists.)
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Old 03-20-2018, 10:00 AM   #114
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That quote "Oh no, not another f***" ended with the word Phylum, not elf. It relates to a vast fossil bed discovered with thousands of fossils of creatures never seen before, and it was attributed to one of the palaeontogists trying to make sense of them.

But it seems even there it is apocryphal. It is amusingly related in Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything".
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Old 12-01-2018, 02:55 AM   #115
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Quote:
I’m very much an adult writer who needs great young adult editing.
-- Sherman Alexie, from the interview at the end of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2008).

It's a quote I found interesting on two levels: firstly for the admission that an editor makes such a significant difference, and secondly for the emphasis that you need the right sort of editor for the work you are creating.
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