Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things Ain't What They Seem

Ever win by losing? Actually that was the theme of one of my early novels that now sits idly by in a forgotten spot on my computer. Someday I might dig it out and give it the working over it needs to be viable, but right now let me give you an example of winning by losing.

You're on the way to the airport to catch a flight for that dream vacation to Siberia. But you run over a dead raccoon on the way and it's vertebrae sticks in the tread of your brand new set of Goodyear's. The resulting flat makes you miss the only direct flight to Serbia.

AT THAT POINT YOU ARE A LOSER. A victim of bad luck, but if upon landing that said plane skids off the frozen Serbian runway and crashes headfirst into an icy river with everyone on board losing some limb or appendage to hypothermia then you bad luck just turned good.

Here's another one for you guys. You spot a beautiful woman across the smoky environs of your favorite bar. You whisper to your buddy I'm moving, but you decide to stop off at the bathroom on the way to seducing this object of your desire. After taking care of the pressing matter regarding your bladder and checking the gap between your teeth in the mirror you head out only to find your buddy chatting up your dream girl. They go home together shortly thereafter.

AGAIN, YOU HAVE FALLEN INTO LOSER STATUS. But when that same buddy wakes up three weeks alter with a strange burning sensation and his own appendage stuck to his inner thigh ... well you won by not winning.

After listening to my critique groups take on the ending chapters of Plundered Booty, yes I have finished though I am still tweaking, I realize that same theme is present in my latest novel as well. Not to the same degree and not because of a conscious effort on my part, but winning by losing is one of the underbellies.

Then I starting dissecting my other works of fiction and I think to some degree that element is present in 95% of the stories I've created albeit more subtle in some that others. I'm still trying to decide what that means.

And guess what? I myself have recently won by losing. I have submitted a few time to the literary journal called, The First Line. The premise is easy. Every three months the print journal takes submissions based on the same first line. Check out their website to see upcoming deadlines as well as the opening sentences you must use to create your story.

Anyway I have submitted, but never gotten on though I have gotten some really encouraging words and feedback from the editors in my rejections. I guess that alone could be enough to justify saying I won by losing but a few weeks back I got an email from the team at First Line and they informed me I had won a random drawing for their anthology collection titled, The Best of TFL Editors Picks 2002-2006. And I gotta say there are some great stories inside. Check it out if you get the chance.

Again I'm not going to do a Two Line Tuesday since I'm busier than one toothed beaver, but pop over to see what going on at the Women Of Mystery site anyway.

And tell me ... Have you ever won by losing?

27 comments:

Bubblewench said...

If it wasn't for winning by being a loser, I'd never win at all.

Charles Gramlich said...

It's much better than the alternative, when you feel like you're winning but you're losing again. (song lyric there).

I have won by losing, though I'd have to tell you that story in private.

March to the Sea said...

I am a happily married man and had only two "serious" girlfriends before getting married. They lost out on "this guy". At the time I felt like I was a loser (they both broke up with me) but in the end I have the wife and 2 great kids..so on a "small" level, no actually a big level, I have one. One of the ex's is twice divorced!

Patti said...

my first fiance cheated on me, which in itself is a great story that requires copious amounts of alcohol and phrases like "get out" and "are you shitting me?!", and i lost my dream of marrying the snake (which i hadn't known until that particular moment). this moment of losing opened the door for my second fiance, whom i married and live happily ever after with.

Packsaddle said...

Suddenly, my self-esteem has soared to new heights.

Thanks, Travis!

Lisa said...

"Then I starting dissecting my other works of fiction and I think to some degree that element is present in 95% of the stories I've created albeit more subtle in some that others. I'm still trying to decide what that means."

I think it's a good thing. Many authors explore the same themes throughout their careers. I think on some level, a true artist has some issue that they spend their lives working through and it feeds that creativity.

Rocketstar said...

I am sure I have, but nothing specific comes to mind.

I bet that you are aSeinfeld fan as he also used this concept a lot, in both directions.

Monnik said...

aw, i like patti's story.

i win by losing all the time. i just can't think of a good example at the moment...

Melissa Marsh said...

Great post. I once missed out on a flight that was taking me to the RWA convention in Georgia - my husband had to go to the ER that night, so I missed the trip. But I think that "losing" moment pushed me a in a different direction with my writing and my reading. For so long, all I read and wrote was romance. Now, in the two years since, I've really branched out and it has opened up an entirely new world. Definitely a winning moment and one that I wish would have happened A LOT sooner.

spyscribbler said...

I agree that most authors end up exploring a universal theme for most of their career. I think it's cool.

Stephen Parrish said...

wakes up three weeks later with a strange burning sensation and his own appendage stuck to his inner thigh

I hate it when that happens.

Ello said...

Hey great going on finishing! You are ahead of me! I'm still chugging along.

And yes, winning by losing is a must in my life!

Sizzle said...

What often looks like winning is actually losing. You just never know until down the line I think. This ia great post and has me thinking.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...

When I got divorced from my first husband, I thought I had lost everything. He was verbally abusive and a cheater, and after I left him, my self-esteem was at an all-time low. I felt like a loser, not worth anything.

But if I had stayed in that marriage and not found the courage to get out of it, I never would have met the man of my dreams 24 years ago. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary, and it just gets better and better every day.

I guess that makes up for being a "loser" all those years ago, doesn't it!

preTzel said...

Travis ---

I have not been here in awhile so let me first start off by congratulating the hard work you put in to your book and being at *the end* of the book. The hard part starts now and I know you know that. Don't doubt yourself. That's the biggest downfall of any author is when you start 2nd guessing and doubting your literary worth.

You are a prolific writer and many here can attest to that. I'm sure your book will be wonderful and I can't wait to purchase a copy of it. :)

Prez

JenKneeBee said...

I can't think of any specific examples, but it is nice when life works out like that.

Bernita said...

Yep.
Once missed out on a keen summer job doing an archaelogical dig because I'd accepted a job working in the library the day before.
Met my husband that summer.

yellowdog granny said...

7 years of losing by being married to a verbally abusive husband..but the direct result of that is it made me a woman who takes shit from no man or woman ever again..i'll never be that girl again and thank you Goddess for that..so maybe I should have thanked the asshole......
nah!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I guess it all depends on how someone looks at life. You lose a job and find a better one. Some person you thought was perfect dumps you, and you find your soulmate.

Congratulations on the First Line anthology thing. I entered one of their contests last year (and have since posted the entry over at my other blog). I lost the contest, but I used the experience to learn more about writing. =o)

bookbabie said...

Lately we are in a funk around here, I'll let you know if anything good comes from it:(

Congrats on winning the anthology, that's a fun site, I've never seen it!

Anonymous said...

Jenn says:

You are going to feel like a big fat looser if you have to fly to vegas by your self and get a cab and try to find us. It is $335 ding master.

angel, jr. said...

I can't remember specific examples, but I have always looked for the silver lining.

Tee said...

Your examples made me LOL, but I think about this "winning by losing" every single day, (though I never referred to it as such. That's a good way to put it.)

I consider it God's perspective vs. my perspective. I may think that turning down one path will be good for me, but as a human on the ground, I'm unable to see where that path goes around the bend or over a hill. God can sometimes send me down another path, which may not seem that great, but it's destination is better in the end. God was able to see which path ended better.

I've won by losing so many times I've lost count. Sometimes people will say they're coincidences, others say it's fate, others, God.

There's the boy who I thought I loved who didn't love me back quite the same. I begged and prayed that he'd love me back and we'd marry each other and all of that... I ended up losing touch with him and forgot about it. A couple years later I married Carlos, and we've been happily married 10 years with 2 healthy children.

This other boy (now a man, of course), found me through the internet last year and we messaged back and forth a little just to see how the other was doing... He's in the process of divorcing his wife and has drug and alcohol problems. He likes to party and isn't exactly a "family man".

Looking back, the pain of that unrequited love was worth it, and I believe God knew that, and I'm forever thankful.

Katrina said...

Oh boy! Yes! I have won by losing.
A few years ago we bought a forklift off ebay from Company XYZ. Mistake #1 we paid them up front so they would schedule the delivery quickly--but felt okay about it.They had been in business many years and had good reviews. Days turned into weeks with me calling everyday--always some new excuse. Finally after about 6 weeks I called an attorney & he contacted Company XYZ. Next week we had our forklift delivered. It wasn't the forklift we ordered--had a few different things on it but we were just thrilled to have it.

A month or so later we were contacted by another Company ABC in Iowa who had purchased a forklift from Company XYZ also. They had received a forklift that didn't have all the gadgets on it they needed, so declined it and asked Company XYZ to send another one. Turns out the forklift Company ABC declined was shipped to us.
Company ABC told us that Company XYZ had disappeared with several peoples money and now a lawsuit was being filed to locate and sue Comapany XYZ. Whew--by the grace of God we came out on top.
Did we learn our lesson? Hmmm--I hate to admit I just purchased a car off ebay and am in the process of getting it scheduled on an auto transport truck. Scared--yes! I won't breath until it gets here--in one piece--I hope!

Barrie said...

I'm sure I have won by losing, but I can't think of an example off the top of my head. And, I bet this happens lots of time and we're unaware of it. Have fun tweaking your novel!

the walking man said...

I lost my first marriage of 3 years and a couple of years later won my wife of the last 25. Dos that count?

Janna Qualman said...

Winning by losing. It's an amazing concept, one I'm sure we've all seen play out in life.

Great post!