Sunday, January 9, 2011

Today's fortune: January 9, 2011

Today's fortune: Your hard work is about to pay off. Congratulations!
When I read that fortune this morning, I was hopeful it would apply not only to me but also to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Not so much.

Enough of that... I don't want to think about the Chiefs any more today.

In breaking down today's fortune, I've been thinking about areas in my life where I've worked really hard. When I was most recently unemployed, my full time job was finding a full time job. And I applied everywhere. Finding, interviewing for and being hired for the job I have now was nothing short of a personal and financial miracle.

But that's a situation where my hard work has already paid off. Today's fortune is referring to a payoff in the near future.

Well... I've been working hard for this blog. So far, My Daily Fortune has gotten a lot of attention from the local media (including an upcoming feature in the Kansas City Star, about which I will write more later). But I really don't see any immediate payoff coming down the road.

Unless, of course, I strike a winning ticket in the lottery using a fortune's lucky numbers. That would be one hell of a payoff.

Let's see, what else... I've been working hard at maintaining a strict diet in order to lose weight. Yesterday's fortune, which inspired me to eat a Snickers bar and order pizza, didn't help. But in spite of that, I'm already seeing results. Slowly but surely, there's less of me than there was just a few weeks ago.

What's left? I have to go back a couple years to the one project that challenged me most, and the one thing, besides my marriage, that I'm most proud of.

Two years ago, during a year-long stretch of unemployment, I wrote a novel.

Let me give a little backstory here. When I was in high school, I wrote the first half of a very bad novel before I ran out of steam and put the project on the shelf for good.

Then, a few months after Jamie and I were married, I was fired from a newspaper job for writing a column that angered an advertiser. (I was young and in hindsight I can see that the column was a bad idea, but my spineless publisher did nothing to stand up for me.) Anyway, during that period of unemployment, I started another novel, this one only slightly less terrible. Just like the first one, however, my creativity fizzled out about halfway through, and I never finished it.

Flash forward to two years ago. I was much older and I knew I was a better writer, so I decided to try again. I came up with an idea, and for six solid months I researched and outlined my novel without writing a single word of it.

Then, when the time was right, I began with "Chapter 1..." And because finishing a novel had proven to be elusive for me, I set a rigorous and demanding schedule for myself: to write 1,000 words per day, every single day, until the book was finished.

From mid-July through the end of September, I missed that goal only three times - once when I was sick and twice when out-of-town friends and relatives were visiting. In the course of two and a half months, I wrote 85,000 words.

That was, by far, the hardest thing I've ever done. The end result is, in my biased opinion, a pretty good book that weighs in at 80,000 words (I cut out 5,000 in the editing process).

For a while, I tried to find a literary agent. But the book remains unpublished.

The fortune could be telling me to dust off the manuscript, give it another good, strong polish, and start shipping it off to agents once again.

What do I have to lose? The hard work is over; I've already written the book. The worst possible outcome at this point is rejection, which means I have nowhere to go but up. The payoff of a published book would be even more rewarding (if not profitable) as a winning lottery ticket.

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