He Whom Chance Favors

It was Louis Pasteur who famously said, "Chance favours only the prepared mind." I've been thinking of that recently. This past Saturday, I moderated a panel discussion on screenwriting and novel writing at Stan Lee's Comikaze. Vanessa Fewings and Mark Wheaton were on the panel, both with distinct perspectives based on significant experience in both camps of writing.

One of the audience members asked about breaking in to the industry, a question which every hopeful screenwriter who doesn't have an "in" with Hollywood is desperate to hear an answer to. Mark's answer was not necessarily encouraging, but it was certainly a call to arms. Basically, he said to write, write more, and keep writing. The more material you have across a variety of fronts, the more prepared you are when an opportunity arises.

I was reminded of this again when watching the Paley Center's Vampire Diaries panel from this year. Don't judge! It was playing in the background, the cast maintaining a stream of comic dialogue with each other as moderator and audience threw questions at them, when I heard it again. Ian Somerhalder answered a serious question with a suddenly serious answer, explaining that for actors and showrunners alike to find success, there's a degree of luck that must be involved. And "luck," he reminds us, "is when opportunity meets preparation."

There are all sorts of blogs, books, websites, conferences, and conventions that will guide you through the process of getting discovered. And all those things have their place. But when it comes to being an artist - whether a writer, actor, painter, or musician - the most fundamental project is your art. Not your platform.

With that in mind, pick up the pen or the paintbrush. And when you are done, pick it up again. A writer is one who writes. An actor is one who acts. There's no other way to become what you want to be than to do it, and when you are done, to do it again. 

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