Please join us in welcoming California writer Jordan E. Rosenfeld, author of two books for writers: Make a Scene, and with Rebecca Lawton, Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life. She is a contributing editor and columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine and a regular book reviewer for NPR-affiliate KQED Radio. She holds an MFA in creative writing and literature from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her stories have appeared in a variety of literary journals, anthologies and magazines and she hopes to finish a draft of her new novel, an urban fantasy, before her first child is born.
It’s heartening to stumble on a good idea that changes your writing life for the better in dramatic ways, which is how Rebecca Lawton, my writing partner and co-author of Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life, and I felt when we began the work that led to our book and our newsletter of the same name about five years ago. It’s, well, another feeling (or twelve) altogether when someone else gets that same idea, or rather, their variation on it, featured on Oprah before you, so that your work appears like the derivative.
Is it Lady Luck who smiled on an unknown Australian lady behind the mega-success The Secret, or is it, in fact, the very principle of the work that she, and we, believe—that like attracts like and that the focus of your attention, positive or negative, brings about an equal flow?
In truth, I don’t believe in luck. I will badly paraphrase the poet Ranier Maria Rilke who suggested that we make our own fate, which emerges out of our choices and actions (only he said so far more beautifully than I did). There is no predestined course, some labyrinth of turns in which, if we just took a left rather than a right, we would have stumbled into a jewel cache of luck. Luck is what happens when hard work and visions work in tandem like one of those cool two-person bicycles.
So as our tiny labor of love, Write Free, was born and fledged in the heart of a small publisher in a tiny Northern California town, I didn’t waste even a few seconds of my life in jealousy over The Secret’s global success, right?
Wrong!! Becoming conscious doesn’t mean elevating out of my human body into instant enlightenment—I went there for awhile. I wanted to believe in luck too, but everything I’ve learned, the core of Rebecca’s and my book and our philosophy on life, tells me this isn’t true. It’s easy to see other people’s success as luck. I know so many writers (add: artists, entertainers, businessmen, etc) who have spent a decade slaving at a book, only to appear like an overnight success when the book (painting/career/theater show) finally debuted. It’s also easy to hold ourselves back from achieving what we want through a variety of complex techniques. That’s why Rebecca and I wrote Write Free. It’s why we spread the word through our free newsletter (shameless self-pimping here)—if everyone believed in luck, who would bother to turn out the literature, the films, the cool technologies that make our lives better?
You can believe in luck if you want—and imagine that all those successful people were somehow “born” into it—or fated to have it (and therefore why bother because it’s all who you know, or what MFA program you went through), but I challenge anyone with a vision or a dream to lay it messy and beating on your desk and tackle it with guts and inspiration. You might be surprised to find out just how much joyous dedication, sweat and persistence it takes to get lucky.