Friday, 11 November 2011

A day at the races

A day at the races for those that don’t gamble regularly is an experiment in hope and frustration.  Each race comes up, you use what little knowledge you have to pick a horse, you place your bet, and hope.  Of course, it doesn’t work out.  Some people get lucky, but on average, it can’t work out.  If it did, then the bookies wouldn’t make money, and we’d all be gamblers.  Stands to reason.

We go to the races for other reasons.  Fine company.  Real champagne, and plenty of it.  Nice food.  People to watch.  Lots of people to watch.  You get to giggle at young women in ridiculous heels, and see them struggle as champagne enters their bloodstream, the sun beats down, and blisters set in.  Not to mention the blokes with eight beers too many under their belts.

But back to the horses.  I watched every race on a big screen.  (The only live horseflesh that made it passed my eyes were the police horses at the end of the day.)  Money was invested, and the horses were away.  People yelled and cheered.  I watched.  Mostly, my horses ran fast early, and were swallowed up in the run to the finish.  A couple of times our horses came in and I watched, and regretted my betting strategy on those occasions.

On no occasion did I set up a betting strategy to avoid returning to work on Monday.  That was probably sensible.

My first novel is like one of those horses.  I’m placing my bet – the hours invested in writing, and in learning the craft of writing.  (You can be the judge of my learning.)  My skills are amateurish, like the unprofessional gambler.  When the novel is completed it will leave the blocks, ‘and they’re racing’.  Will it get published?  Will it sell?  Will my strategy to sell it be successful?  The professional writer knows how to avoid negative answers to these questions.  I have to take other people’s tips.

My first novel won’t allow me to avoid returning to work on a Monday in the future.  But like a day at the races, there is enjoyment regardless.  I’ve enjoyed the classes and the learning.  I’ve made friends along the way.  There is a joy in my little successes.

Still, despite hope not being a strategy, I hope my novel is not swallowed up in the race to the finish line.
It’s a cliché, but I’ll say it anyway, slightly modified for accuracy.  Many things in life are a risk.  One thing wasn’t much of a risk – Black Caviar winning for the 16th time in a row.  I didn’t waste my money on a bet.

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