Friday, October 8, 2010

Sacrifice (And a Bit of Luck)

"Friend of a friend" - some of the loveliest relationships get their start this way. You all know that Mario Acevedo is a treasured Pens friend, right? A while back Mario went out into the world and came back all excited about an author he had met on his travels. As he explained how amazing and talented and fantastic she was, we were just a little bit jealous (we thought we were his favorites) until we had the bright idea of stealing her for ourselves!

Deborah Coonts’s mother tells her she was born in Texas a very long time ago, though Deborah is not totally sure—her mother can’t be trusted. But she was definitely raised in Texas on Barbeque, Mexican food, and beer. She currently resides in Las Vegas, where family and friends tell her she can’t get into too much trouble. Silly people. Coonts has built her own business, practiced law, flown airplanes, written a humor column for a national magazine, and survived a teenager. Visit her here - and check out her first two novels, WANNA GET LUCKY and the upcoming LUCKY STIFF.

I don’t do sacrifice anymore.

Well, not major sacrifice anyway—it’s way too messy. Not that I ever got into it in a big way, but there are dark moments when I like the idea of carving out the heart of a Vestal Virgin as an offering to the Gods of Deathless Prose. However, when the urge to grab a blood-encrusted dagger overwhelms me, the wet bucket of reality douses that burning desire—I live in Las Vegas. Finding a Vestal Virgin here would be a mythic quest worthy of Odysseus and far beyond my feeble skills. I can picture myself roaming the Strip, like Diogenes with his lamp searching for an honest man. Come to think of it, in this day and age, finding an honest man might be harder than finding a virgin. But, that topic reeks of politics and is best left to after-dinner discussion with people I never want to see again.

So, back to virgins…and sacrifice. To be honest, I’ve probably spent more time contemplating my navel than I have inspecting the nuances of sacrifice. However, having been raised in the Catholic Church, I am familiar with the concept. And I like it…in theory. As a writer with a very fickle muse, I’ve found it hard to resist the urge to offer something, anything (even my son when he was a teenager—perhaps understandable), to curry favor with the word Gods. Of course, in this age of enlightenment, offering hormonally-challenged or virginal humans in ritualistic sacrifice is frowned upon. Darn.

What to do? Perhaps a smaller, more PC sacrifice would do? In my fifteen years of writing, I’ve sacrificed time, evenings with friends, summer days of play, nights of sleep, so many computers I’ve lost count, my eyesight, size four jeans, a couple of husbands, and the ability to hold a conversation with anyone other than my imaginary friends—and I’m still a bit short of my goal. I’ve given all I have. Well, everything except my son, and, at twenty-five, he’s returned to the human race so I think I’ll keep him.

Having exhausted all other possibilities, what I could use now is a little bit of luck.

As a writer, I can slave over a hot computer for years, honing my craft, letting loose the storyteller within. But, at the end of the day, what I need is the right agent, who pitches the story to the right editor, at the right house, at the right time, when the market is ready. (Trust me on this one—I’m the writer who published a comedic thriller in the year of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.)

Okay, I don’t need a little bit of luck—I need a whole boatload of the stuff.

Athletes and gamblers have a long history of trying to bring luck in bizarre ways. They carry rabbit’s feet, use the same pen to take tests or sign important documents, wear a ‘lucky’ color or article of clothing, refuse to eat chicken before a baseball game, run for cover on Friday the thirteenth (although my son was planning on getting married that day—which, given my marital misadventures, I found sorta appropriate)….well, you get my drift.

Before you poo-poo all of this as silly superstition, I want to tell you it’s gaining some legitimacy. Apparently the Germans conducted several studies recently which showed that good luck charms and the like actually improve performance. I won’t bore you with the details, but the upshot is that, if you believe something will bring you luck, then you have more confidence and consequently, you perform better.

Apparently our brains are easy to trick. (This is news?)

And, by tricking ourselves into being more confident, we make our own luck.

Sounds reasonable to me. Count me in. So, the next time you see me at my computer in my purple flannel Rockies’ PJ’s, with my chipped NYU mug, surrounded by a frog prince pen holder, a pencil box given to me as a child, small figurines of Gumby and Pokey, all of it illuminated by a silver disco lamp with a note pinned to it that reads “Wanna Get Lucky?”, I know you will understand.


Sophie Littlefield said...

Thanks for being here Deb and I can't wait to meet you in person!! xo

Rachael Herron said...

Fantastic post! (Also I read that PC sacrifice bit too quickly and thought you were sacrificing a PC. As a Mac devotee, I approved.) :)

Adrienne Bell said...

I love lucky charms! I'm a big fan of whatever works. If a rabbit foot gives someone the extra boost they need, then I'm all for it.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Yay for lucky charms! Um, not the kind with the marshmallows, though those are good too. Great post, Deb, and thanks for dropping by the Pens! Mario can't stop talking about you, which can be taken in any number of ways, but since he keeps talking about us, too, I choose to think of it as a good thing ;-) Love your titles...

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading your books! I lived in Las Vegas from 1968-1976, and believe me, there were plenty of virgins in high school (life in Las Vegas in the early 70s felt more like the 50s then). It's always great to read about the town from a resident's POV!!!!

Unknown said...

Oh goody, a new friend :) Thanks for visiting the Pens!! Fun post and great covers :) :)

Deb Coonts said...

Thanks for all the wonderful comments! I had a blast writing about sacrifice--not something I ponder often. But, being an escapee from the South who was raised during the Donna Reed era(and In a Catholic family to boot) I'm familiar with the concept;) To be honest, I am grateful for my writing time and writer friends. Look forward to seeing all of u at Bouchercon, I hope,

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