Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lucky Dice (March Theme- Naomi Kinsman)

I'm not sure I believe in luck.


I've actually been thinking about this a lot, since we decided on this theme for March. What exactly is it about the concept of luck that bothers me? I looked up the definition of luck. Among other definitions, Dictionary.com says it is: "A combination of circumstances, events, etc., operating by chance to bring good or ill to a person." Chance. I think this is my problem with luck. My own experience is that it's not only chance that brings about those moments in my life that change everything.


I found a quote by Seneca that I liked better. "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." This feels more right to me. We're not simply blown in the winds of fortune, meeting good  or ill by chance. A huge part of what happens in our lives has to do with our reactions, the ways we respond when doors and windows open.


This weekend, I attended one of my favorite writers' conferences of the year, the SCBWI Golden Gate Conference at Asilomar. Truth told, I love this conference so much that I volunteered a few years back to help organize it and have been part of the conference team ever since. We meet at Asilomar, this amazing retreat center on the ocean, and hear inspiring talks from editors, agents, writers and illustrators. This year, the conference theme was "Your Inner Genius," and we talked a lot about sparking creativity and tapping into that elusive quality inside of us that makes writing or illustrating more than just words or images on a page. 


Dan Yaccarino gave his talk, "YES!" If you haven't seen it, and get a chance to, I encourage you to do so. He talked about how through his career, the biggest moments of success have come from his willingness to say "yes," even when the new opportunity might have been overwhelmingly new, or beyond his current capability.


This brought me back to my own thinking about luck. My background is in improvisational theatre, and though you can't practice for an improvisational performance, you still have to practice all the time. What are you practicing? Not the scenes you'll play in performance. Instead, you're practicing facing that heartstopping moment when you know that saying yes will put you in WAY over your head, and saying yes anyway. 


I actually do this in my own writing sessions. I have oversized dice that I throw most mornings. One dice has words related to writing, such as "character" and "setting." The other has ways to play, such as "listing," "music," or "art." Whatever comes up, I try to open myself up to the new idea that pops into my head. For instance, if I roll "scene arc" and "music," I might try to find a song that reflects the mood at the beginning of my scene, and one that reflects the mood at the end, and see how playing those songs during my writing session influences my story. There's a lot more to this, which you can read about at #writersdice. I will be tweeting about it sometimes too, with this hashtag.


The point is, I think we can't just wait for luck to come around. We have to prepare ourselves to be ready to say yes when that amazing opportunity arrives. Practice openness. You never know what is just around the corner.

2 comments:

  1. I love that quote, too: "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."

    ReplyDelete