So you can read my books

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


"Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1."

The odds of dying from a dog bite and the chances of becoming a saint are both 1 in 20 million.

I think sainthood is safe from me.  The dog bite maybe not so much ... and Victor, no jokes about my dates.

The odds are against us ever being a self-supporting, much less a popular author.  

We say we know it ... 

but sometimes the days get dark.

If you go back 10 generations (250 years) the chance of you being born at all is at most 1 divided by 6 x 10100


1 in 60000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000.

In gambling, even a chance of 1 to 100 is not worth a gamble.

That you are even alive to read this stellar post of mine is a miracle in and of itself!

You are the result of many generations of survivors. 

 One of the people that died prematurely could have been your Dad or your Dad's Dad and so on.

Somehow, none of your forefathers died before passing on his genes to the next man in your lineage. 

 Because of the deaths from war, disease, and famine, most human lineages died out. 

Yet, here you are!

And you are still brooding about the odds of becoming a successful writer.

Thriller author James Patterson made $94 million in 2012, according to Forbes.

He's one of 145,900 American "writers and authors" counted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a quarter of them part-time, two-thirds of them self-employed,

and with median earnings of $55,420.

Alice Wentworth just glared at Victor for snickering at that figure compared with my earnings, 

currently keeping company with the NAUTILUS.

With electronic self-publishing, it's become easier than ever to be "an author." 

And harder than ever to get attention to your work.

Most successful authors have some combination of talent, persistence, and luck. The persistence stories are always encouraging. 

And daunting.

Mystery writer Janet Evanovich pulled in $33 million last year, 

but wrote for ten years before getting published. 

She labored first in the romance field before hitting it big with bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.

Stephen King's first big novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times. 

He tossed it in the wastebasket but his wife fished it out. He earned $39 million in 2012.

John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected 12 times, and he unsuccessfully tried to sell copies from the trunk of his car. 

He earned $26 million last year.

Judy Blume, who has sold 80 million books, got nothing but rejections for two straight years.

Steve Berry, 10 million books, collected 85 rejections over 12 years before breaking through.


You need to connect with the right person on the right day.


All you can do is write and try. And write and try. 

Most of the famous authors above did just that, for years and years.

But be warned:

Writing is thankless work.

It is like housework. It is like laundry. It is like a soap opera. 

It is never finished.

There is always more to do.

People may tell you that you are good, but you won’t believe them, 

or you will believe them too much, or you will not know who to believe,

least of all yourself and this thing you created that is nothing more than a mess of letters trying to make sense of things that don’t: 

life, death, what happens in between.

You spend your life executing a plan built on the quicksand fantasy that something you’ve done —

 given birth, written a book, led a company — will make a lasting impact.

It won’t. 

Then, again, with writing, it just might.
Writing is a vow to outlive yourself.


  1. You have to try. If you don't, you will always wonder, what if. . .and, if writing makes us step outside ourselves while we imagine, that's a good thing IMO.

    1. I believe we grow in ways that we could not imagine when we write ... and when we persist in our dreams against all odds. :-)

      You're right: if we stop, we will always wonder "What If?" :-)

  2. Writing a great novel is like composing music in the 60's. You need lots of good drugs, and don't get busted.

    Going viral might be more complicated. Carry bail money in your pockets.

    1. The greatest drug is imagination ... for me. Going viral isn't all that hard ... just start dating Miley Cyrus ,,, but some prices are just too steep to pay! :-)

  3. A vow to outlive yourself - how true!
    I've never expected to make a bunch of money. Most of what I've made has been bonus.
    You know, we are truly miracles.

    1. Yes, each of us is truly a miracle. And the legacy we leave behind may be a kind word spoken not written, right? :-)

  4. At last, a little optimism about writing.

    I've been in a blue funk for awhile. I realized I needed to stop reading some very good writing blogs. They are really discouraging. Sort of like people when you are dieting. Lots of warnings of what ifs that are possible and downright discouraging.

    Good post..

    1. Sometimes it's good just to counter all the negative in our lives with focusing on what is positive, beautiful, and possible, right? :-)

  5. You die twice: Once when you stop breathing, and later when the last somebody you knew says your name for the last time.

    It's nice to be remembered in our books because the number of people who really remember us is getting smaller. Our books are a nice legacy.

    1. Quite profound.

      Though we do not know who planted the shade tree under which we rest still that person is reaching out from the distant past to help us.

      I believe what we do ripples out in the world, influencing people we will never meet or know by having positively or negatively touched folks who in turn touch others.

      How many bridges have we crossed built by unknown hands? Yet our lives are made easier by those unseen faces.

      Books are one of the last ways to make new friends after we have gone on. :-)