When too many helpful incidences come together for a protagonist, we call it contrived. Sometimes, however, they happen in real life. Is it coincidence, divine intervention, karma? I know where I stand on the subject, since I’m a devout LDS Christian who believes in inspiration, but I’ll let you decide for yourselves.
After listening to some of the Writing Excuses podcasts by Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells, I decided that I should try to go to the next World Fantasy Convention (WFC). This was about six years ago, and the convention was happening in San Jose. I calculated plane trip, hotel, and food and realized there was absolutely no way. Then, I remembered…my step-father-in-law had a daughter, whom I’d met once, who lived in San Jose. I felt like a mooch, but I was desperate and determined. I contacted her and asked if I could stay. She not only agreed, she was a spectacular hostess, drove me around, and thanked me for coming. I know, that’s not strange, it’s sweet. This is the unusual part:
While getting my tickets, I felt like I should go with a different airline than I usually do even though I had to pay more. With the upgrade came the option to pick my seat. I chose one at random, trying to get close to the windows, but then thought, “No, I should sit in this one.” and picked an aisle seat (which I don’t like), way too close to the engines. Months later, while sitting in said seat, I couldn’t help but pick up my companions’ conversation. After a few minutes, I put away my laptop and the book I was working on and got up the guts to ask if they were attending WFC. Not only were Gini Koch and Glen Glenn an absolute delight to talk with, Gini told me to find her at the con. With the numbers of people, I didn’t think I was likely to actually see her again, and I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for the subsequent events.
Dinnertime the next evening found me by myself, deciding between a tasty sandwich shop (which I love), and Jimmy John’s (which I’m not crazy about). I grabbed the door handle of the sandwich shop and yet felt compelled to go to hamburger-joint Jimmy John’s instead. So I did. Inside, a group of Tad Williams fans saw the WFC bag, initiated conversation, and invited me to join them. Through them, I discovered the after-parties that go on in the hotels and the opportunities there to meet agents, publishers, and fellow authors.
Of course, I went to one and through the stifling crowds and multiple floors, Gini Koch happened to walk by and we met up again. Gini is a wonderful person who loves to encourage aspiring authors, and Glen is a fellow writer who has traded a number of works with me for critique and helped me grow more than I ever could have on my own. Gini introduced me to her agent, other agents, publishers, and took me under her wing. She has given me writing tips, done invaluable author workshops with my local writing group, and has helped me develop my craft until I felt confident in my abilities. I’m not sure I would have made it to publication without her belief in my potential.
Did blind luck, divine guidance, or something else bring me the friend I needed in my life at just the right time? Personally, I believe I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, but I’m also happy to leave my story to my readers’ interpretations. Maybe it will seem like fiction to you, but I know my story is too coincidental to be made-up.