Friday, May 21, 2010

The Right Place at the Right Time

My son, who has developed quite an interest in photography, was recently in the right place at the right time to try out his new camera. He woke up in the middle of the night to see an unusual light outside. When he went to investigate, he discovered that just down the hill from his own home, a building/mobile home was in flames. After alerting the fire department and doing whatever he could to help, he grabbed his camera and took a few photos. Two of his photos have since appeared in a regional newspaper. This is one of the good ones--good in a horrifying way, because the authorities later discovered a body in the ruins.

Photo copyright by Tim Brown

We often talk about good luck when these moments happen, but part of the "good luck" that comes with an interest in photography is having that camera nearby, keeping it full charged, learning how to use the equipment by reading the instruction manual and practicing, and, most of all, remembering to grab it when the perfect photo opportunity presents itself.

Being in the right place at the right time happens to writers as well. We pick a conference to attend, decide to pitch or workshop our novels, and everything falls into place with an invitation to submit a partial or even a full manuscript.

Once again, part of the "good luck" that comes with a passion for writing is picking the right conference for your genre, carefully researching the agents and editors who will attend so you're pitching to the right person for your work, and choosing whether to participate in a critiquing workshop if one is available. I was in the right place at the right time at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference in September 2005. I did my homework to make sure I was in the best workshop for a mystery writer, and I got lucky.

And you know those fortunate writers who find an agent or publisher after only a few queries? That's because their work is unique and professional, because they did their homework and queried appropriate agents or editors for their genre, and because they meticulously followed submission guidelines. And then they got lucky, because their outstanding work was read by the right person at the right time.

So whatever your passion, make sure you're as prepared as you can be, follow all the rules, produce the best work possible at this stage of your career, and stay alert to opportunities. That's how you end up in the right place at the right time, and that's how you get lucky.


Mason Canyon said...

From a news standpoint, this is a great photo. Your son was definitely in the right place at the right time for this. Sad that someone died in the fire.

Thoughts in Progress

Jan Morrison said...

a really striking photo - and you know I'm mad for good photos.
I agree with everything you said and I usually say that the luck needs a p in front of it. You have to pluck up your courage to put yourself in the right place at the right time, to make yourself known to possible mentors, to say 'please sir can I have some more?' when no one else is. Pluck is what we need to develop...and you have it Patricia!

Jenny S. said...

You're right, Pat. We can do a lot to increase our chances of having those 'good luck' moments. You can't be in the right place at the right time if you never go anywhere!

Amazing picture.

Ann Best said...

How true about "luck." And adding the "p" as Jan says. I would never have thought of that! And what an amazing photograph. Your son has an eye that captures the emotional essence. This is like a surreal painting.

I always enjoy your most interesting and informative posts!

Karen Walker said...

That is one talented son you have there, Pat. Amazing photograph. And so sad. This post is so very true. I like adding a p in front of lucky.

Terry Odell said...

Excellent shot--looks like we both have photographic talent in our offspring. Mine just published a new book on nature photography.

When I realized that nobody was going to knock on my door asking if I had a manuscript they could publish, I figured that although luck may be a part of success in this business, hard work is much more likely to lead to that 'lucky' path.

Linda L. Henk said...

I've served as a peer reviewer for academic research grants. The first method of sorting depended on whether the author(s) "meticulously followed guidelines." If not, the proposals went to the chipper not matter their merit. I need to transfer what I learned in science to creative writing. Thanks for the reminder. I agree your son's photo is spectacular and it is too bad someone died in the fire.

Clarissa Draper said...

That's a wonderful photo. I hope the person who died didn't suffer much. I agree sometimes it requires perseverance and knowing what you got when it hits you in the face.

Great blogs today.


irishoma said...

Hi Pat,
What a stunning photo, and the story behind it makes it even more so. Your son has an excellent eye for artistry.
I think it was Louis Pasteur who said, "Chance favors the prepared mind." It was true when he made his discovery, and it's true for others who work hard, are prepared, and seize an opportunity that comes their way.

Watery Tart said...

It's so true--more so for photography even than writing, but being prepared and diligent, and then that last ounce of being in the right place at the right time... (but the luck only comes if you've done the homework)

That IS an amazing photo.


A great photo, lucky he saw the fire so that he could contact the fire brigade,Thanks for the tips in writing, I find it all very interesting.

enjoy your week-end.



Excellent photo. Seizing the opportunity, as Donna said, is an essential component of luck. My father always used to preach that we make our own luck. If we put ourselves on the right path, if we're open to opportunities, and if we have the courage to seize them, we tend to be considered "lucky." What's so lucky about hard work?

I guess it's all in one's perspective. If a person doesn't hop on the righ path or sits around with hands outstretched waiting for something good to fall in them instead of being open to opportunitiess, or is too frightened/cautious to take a chance, then he might view himself as "unlucky" and other people as "lucky."

With writers, I liken it to writing every day. Those writers who write something every day tend to complete their works faster than those who don't write every day. I guess their luckier when they get more submissions out and make more sales, eh? :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks to all for stopping by, and thanks to those who are leaving comments. As most of you know, I'm on vacation so won't be blog-hopping much until late next week.


Too bad I couldn't edit my comment ro spell and type right. Guess I just am not luck today!

Anonymous said...


The photo is haunting and beautiful. Prayers to the victims. Kudos to your son for being able to capture the moment.

I love the message of this post. I think this is something we tend to forget when we write. Not only do we need to work on our manuscripts, but we need to work on learning the industry. Being prepared goes a long way in finding success.

Thanks for sharing this.

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow - what an incredible photo.

Doing our homework sure helps us be part of that right place/right time thing!

arlee bird said...

I bought a camera to take pictures, but I always forget to bring it with me when I go out or I forget to grab it when my granddaughter or other company comes over. Guess I'm not much of a photographer.

Tossing It Out

Helen Ginger said...

Very good advice, Patricia.

And I love the photo!

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

Good things happen to those who prepare themselves. Its all about positioning yourself. Oh, and some good fortune too. Some call it luck. Others blessings. Oh, and I haven't forgotten about your questions. I've had to put pretty much everything on hold as I prepare my re-edited MS for submission.

Stephen Tremp

Barbara Scully said...

That is a very effective photo although sorry to hear someone died in the fire. And thanks for all the wise words on being prepared - making our own luck!