Why being a Writer is like playing the Lottery

The scene: I’m about to clock out for the day and I make a money related comment.

“You should play powerball. It’s up to $100 million.” He the drawer I was on today in his hand and is about to audit it.

“Yea, but you forget I have the worst luck in the world. I would never win.” I stuff my vest and hat into my locker and pull on my sweatshirt.

“See, your luck can’t get any worse and it’s $100 million.”

I smirk and look at him.

“Hey, just don’t forget the little people when you win… You’ll probably go ‘Here Bob, here’s my beat up old truck.’ Just don’t forget us, ok?”

“Yea, right you know I wouldn’t.” He disappears into the office to check my drawer. “Hey, I’m leaving.”

“Wait, aren’t you going to check to make sure your drawer is ok?” I put the two dimes I had found on the break room table into the drawer. “If anything I’d be a cent short, but I’m not worried. If I did my job correctly I won’t be short.” The phone rings and he counts the drawer. I stay until he tells me I’m 24 cents over.

I walk through the store and I’m thinking about that powerball prize. It’d be nice wouldn’t it. Sure it would be. I don’t even know what I would do with that much money. Probably give most of it away and invest some of it. I say my goodbyes and walk out to my goodlooking, but piece of junk truck. I’d fix the truck up and use it to plow the small piece of land I’d buy. I’d buy that ecodiesel Ram and use it for my daily driver. I’d build a small barn and have my horses in my backyard. I’d write every day and I’d do some traveling. I’d donate money to the poor and most importantly I’d pay off my debts. I’d set some aside and I’d budget everything out.  I’d be smart; I wouldn’t be greedy. I’ve learned so much these past few years. Honest, I wouldn’t make mistakes! Oh how sweet the lure of money is.

You see, I’ve done all of this categorizing before. I’ve thought a lot about what I would do when I have millions of dollars. Most of the time my train of thought starts with: when I become a famous and wealthy novelist this is what I’ll do… The thought process isn’t all that different between gambling and writing. Both the lottery and writing require persistence, luck, steadfast devotion and the dream. Yes, there are those who make it and make a little money. Like that person who wins twenty grand with a scratch game. There are those who win a few writing competitions and there are those who win a little bit of money off scratch tickets. (I hope you follow those sentences- to me they are vague; a peculiar kind of vague. I’ll have to re-read it again later)

Then there are those who win a dollar or two after spending several hundred dollars hoping and praying they’ll get lucky. Those are the writers that take the courses and do their due diligence but never make progress. After years of squirreling away their hopes and dreams they put down their pen or their lucky scratch penny or stop playing their numbers. Of course, it is the next day that the numbers are called or the writer sees a story very similar to theirs go viral.

Writing, of course, is more than luck- it is dedication and editing and the constant revision of words, ideas and themes. It is creating characters that are real, believable and relatable. It is having a storyline that makes sense as well as the ability to write words that flow and are free from filters, add-ons and confusion.  (Alas, I have much work to do when it comes to this.)

The lottery is a bit more basic than that. It doesn’t need a person who can create in depth stories but it does need a person who can figure out patterns, algorithms and has the dedication needed to make sure their numbers work. Sure, there are rules and regulations to prevent people from guessing which numbers are “lucky” but in writing there are agents, publishers and the general population that functions in much the same way.

Yes, once in a while there are unexpected wonders– people who seem to “win” out of the blue. Those are few and far between. Of course, I’d love to believe that I would win the powerball lottery- that my luck would change and my world would be turned upside down. Isn’t the lure of gambling? Isn’t that why there are addicts? I also believe there are people addicted to writing- addicted to the hope of succeeding when the odds are against them. Maybe I should start up Writers’ Anonymous. 

What do you think?

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One thought on “Why being a Writer is like playing the Lottery

  1. I think writing — especially daily blogging — is very much like picking a set of lottery numbers and playing them every single time. If you keep on keeping on, the odds get much better every time you play, every time you hit “publish”, and eventually you win. To mix metaphors just a bit, to the persistent go the spoils! Keep on writing, FeliciaJane! – Fawn

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