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Luck Is One Half Of Success

The other is hard work, right?

It's the proverbial end of summer and Labor Day is behind us. It's a day I've waited for all these hot months. First, my oldest daughter is off to kindergarten tomorrow. Kindergarten! I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday! I can't believe how big she is now.

And second, I have another baby I'm hoping will find the perfect home. Yes, my Book 1, REMOVED, is still sitting in editors' queues. It went out in early May, and wouldn't you know it, June caught up to us right away and summer in publishing drew to a grinding halt. I knew this going in. That it could take months. It could take years! Or it could take weeks. You just never know. Some people get their agent and a book deal all within six months. For others the process takes a decade. I admire those who've waited that long! I'm on pins and needles everyday wondering if this'll be the day the call or email comes.

I'm nothing if not patient. I rarely talk about the waiting, here or anywhere. I have a few lucky close friends who get desperate texts from me about it every few weeks but even my husband barely hears about it! I keep it close to my chest, the wondering, because I don't want to drive people crazy or think that I somehow expect success. I'm not cocky, just confident. I worked (and am working) hard at this story. I know my hard work will get me somewhere in this journey so I keep doing it.

But I wondered if I needed a little something extra? I'm not religious so I don't pray for a book contract (though I know my grandmother is doing this!) but I needed to do something. Something indicative of my journey and a goal to achieve independent of what happens with my book.

Our wedding table, 2004

Most people in the West have seen paper cranes either in person or photos or even folded a few themselves. I folded hundreds of red paper cranes for my own wedding and some of them are hanging up in our bedroom now. The crane (the actual bird) is a revered creature in most Asian cultures, but especially in Japan. The Japanese crane is absolutely majestic. It stands almost five feet tall and has a wingspan of over six feet! They also have extremely long life spans. The mystical version is said to live for 1000 years.

Folding paper cranes is believed to bring good luck, and if you fold 1000 cranes, you're granted a wish! The tradition of folding this many cranes is popular if someone you know is getting married or if you have a sick or dying friend or family member that could use a boost. They are usually strung together and given away to the person needing luck, or can be given to a temple if you need the luck yourself.

Well, I could use some luck! And I love folding paper cranes. The repetition, the different paper patterns, the creases pressed firmly with a spoon, each edge matched up perfectly. A few weeks into the submissions process I started folding them. It's not something I do everyday. I'll usually wait until I have a block of time and then sit down and fold 4 in a row.

While I'm pressing each crease, I ponder my characters and their story. What will Sanaa do next? Where can I take the plot that will have my readers stunned? Is that cliffhanger too harsh? Did I describe that scene accurately so that anyone can picture it clearly?

When I'm done, I take a photo of my cranes then hold them in a bag in the closet. It's my goal to keep making them until I sign that book deal I want so badly and have my first ever author signing. Then I'll give them away to the people who come to support me, because these cranes are a symbol. A symbol of luck. A symbol of hope. A symbol of the support I have received to make it even as far as I have so far.

I hope they all find good homes someday. Soon.

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S. J. Pajonas