Make Your own Luck by Guest Blogger Jordan Rosenfeld

Write FreePlease 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.

Make a SceneSo 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.

14 Replies to “Make Your own Luck by Guest Blogger Jordan Rosenfeld”

  1. Hey Jordan, great post! If there is such a thing as luck, I don’t have it. Never have. Well, that’s not true. I think I was lucky in being born with determination. Because boy, I’ve needed it. 😉

    Joking aside, you’re right. We all know it takes a whole lot more than luck to write a good book and put it out there. It’s only those who’ve never actually done it who think it’s all based on luck.

  2. Thanks for joining us, Jordan! This post was a great reminder that success, however you measure it, is so much more dependent on the daily choices we make. 🙂

  3. Hi Jordan! So happy you’re here today (aren’t we lucky?! he he he) and CONGRATULATIONS! I didn’t know you were expecting your first baby! How exciting! I feel for you about the Secret–you poor girl! I had this fabulous non-fic book idea that I just knew would do phenomenally well (don’t they always, when they’re not actually out there in the marketplace?). I knew I was going to have to do tons of research at the Harvard Center for Statistical Analysis. I’d written all the funny parts, just hadn’t gotten around to the research LOL. When damned if I wasn’t listening to NPR one day and some guy from the Harvard Center for Statistical Analysis or whatever its called comes out with a book that was the basic gist of mine. Now granted, he forgot that he needed to inject humor into it, and I’m sure that’s why it was never a big success LOL but oh, well. So much for that!
    Best of LUCK getting that book done before baby comes along!

  4. You’re all kind to comment. Jenny, I feel for YOU with that great idea that was gotten to first. In all fairness, not even The Secret lady had our idea first–and she did her own thing with it. The idea of the Law of Attraction goes back ages…we’re ALL derivative, but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring fresh insights.

    yes, my first baby…woo-hoo. He’s having a growth spurt which is causing me much fatigue…but I’m very excited.

    It’s such a joy to be invited here!


  5. Hi Jordan!

    Thank you so much for joining us today! Great post 🙂

    I personally loved MAKE A SCENE, and I think it should be mandatory reading for writer. (I’m working on a review of it — but there’s the punchline if you can’t wait for me to finish.:-) I have WRITE FREE on my nightstand stack, and I’m hoping to get to it very soon.

    Thanks do much for joining us today, we’re so glad to have you!

    Best of luck with the novel and the baby.

    Deb Lisa

  6. Hello Jordan and Welcome!

    I’m a big fan of your writing both from the newsletters and Writer’s Digest and both your books are on my “MUST READ” list.

    From what I know of you and your work, I have a feeling Write Free is better written and much more substantive than The Secret, despite its great success, and I will be recommending it to all my creative friends.

    Can you tell us a bit more about Making a Scene?

    And do you have any great law of attraction tales?

    I think all of us at The Ball are experiencing the law of attraction this year as we’re having a wonderful time and getting to know so many wonderful people from all walks of life and also attracting some fascinating guests–including you!

    Good luck with that growth spurt. Just when you think you (or the baby) can’t get any bigger, it happens!


  7. I LOVE this Jordan, VERY wise and true and also makes me want to run right out and read your books! So glad you’re with us today!

  8. You gals are great, really. You make a little ole’ writer like me feel very welcome. I’m sorry I’m not replying to you each individually, but I’m suffering from third trimester fatigue 🙂

    Danielle asked if I have any LOA tales–I have so many I don’t even know where to start. There are some in the book Write Free. My freelance writing career is completely a product of LOA. Everyone advised me it was an impossible feat–“nobody makes a living writing articles/editing” is the going line of BS. Well I have done so for over three years. I make more $ than I did at any job I ever had. I’m no millionaire, but I’m happier than I ever was.

    One day, after realizing that no matter how good my job (Massage therapist; spa director; Outreach coordinator; production assistant for doc. film company), I would grow miserable after about 1 year. Mis-er-able. I knew the constant was me. So I started writing down EXACTLY what I wanted–to work from home x hours at x tasks making x dollars. I wrote this every night in my journal and savored it. And then I meditated on it even more for 15-30 minutes, picturing my day. This was a few years before The Secret by the way…I just had this feeling that I should focus on what I wanted. I got so I could taste it, you know?

    And then out of the blue my security minded hubby came to me and said “I think you should quit your job now. You’re freelancing on the side; you prove you can bring in $. go for it.” I couldn’t believe he was saying those words. I built up a small financial security net and then jumped into the scary blue yonder. And again, within DAYS of this decision, an editing gig came to me from a totally unexpected source and offered me the rest of the money I needed to survive. It started like that and it has never stopped. If I stay open and I trust and I do my work–I always have work. When I clamp down and get afraid, the work either dries up or I get inundated to the point of overwhelm. Time and time again.

    The hardest part is acknowledging that there are things we want that we don’t believe we deserve or shouldn’t have (ahem, being a published novelist), and those blocks are useful too. I’m still working through the latter, as I’ve twice come very close to making a sale but no cigar.

  9. Pingback: kqed radio

Comments are closed.