I could never, ever discount the role that luck played in the publication of my book, SMALL ADMISSIONS. Of course, I believe in hard work (meaning writing, writing, writing, and then revising, revising, revising) above all else. The hours of editing are certainly, in my opinion, the single most important part of getting a book to the level of being publishable. But at the end of the day, certain things have to line up just right – and that part of the process really comes down to luck. Random, fabulous luck. Or the luck of a cup of coffee in my case.
The scene: The Kent Coffee Shop in Kent, CT. My husband David decided to go into town for a cup of coffee. Why? I can’t say for sure. He was just in the mood. So off he went, and when he got to the town coffee shop, he happened to run into a fellow brain-and-cognitive-neuroscientist named April, also out getting coffee. Their surprised “What are you doing here?” led to the discovery that she and her husband have a house only a few miles from ours.
Now, I have to wonder, had my husband not gone into town for a cup of coffee that day, what would have ultimately become of my aspirations to publish a book? I honestly believe there’s a very good chance that SMALL ADMISSIONS would never have been written, much less published if my husband hadn’t gone to the coffee shop and bumped into April. Here’s why:
- After the coffee shop encounter, we were invited to a party at April’s house. I had never met April before. Over dinner we discussed an unpublished book I’d written that takes place in a small town in Texas.
- April suggested I send a chapter of that book to her friend, Linda Chester, literary agent.
- Linda signed me and asked me to work with an editor named Anika. After several months, we all concluded to put the Texas book aside, for the time being.
- On Linda’s advice, I wrote a new book called SMALL ADMISSIONS with the help of Anika.
- Linda sold SMALL ADMISSIONS to Emily Bestler.
So what would have happened if my husband had not gone to town for coffee that day? Would I ever have ended up at a dinner party with April? Would I ever have met Linda? Should I assume that things would have fallen into place in some other, totally different way?? I think about this often and, of course, I don’t know. But I truly believe that I got lucky. Really, really lucky. I met someone who knew someone who introduced me to someone, and that – in my opinion – was the luckiest moment of my life.
Did I also work hard, rewrite, edit, struggle? Yes, of course, all of that is true. But many people do those difficult things and never have that one lucky moment that makes everything comes together: Someone happens to meet you and then helps to forge a new connection, and that connection makes all the difference. I’ve told my husband David, and my pal April, and my agent Linda, and my editor Anika, and my publisher Emily Bestler many times that they all changed my life in the most substantive way imaginable, but I’ll say it again here: Thank you David for introducing me to April. Thank you April for introducing me to Linda. Thank you Linda for matching me with Anika. Thank you Anika for getting SMALL ADMISSIONS ready for Emily’s desk. And thank you Emily for saying yes.
Hard work played a role, absolutely. And amazing, supportive people played a huge role. But luck played a part as well. I’m so grateful for that serendipitous cup of coffee because without it, who knows?