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The Writer as Gambler

The Urban Dictionary tells us that "Betting on the Come is derived from a gambling expression and means you don’t have what you want or need at the moment, but you are betting or hoping you will have what you want or need when the time comes.”

Welcome to the Writer's World!

We labor over our stories for months, a year…many years, hoping readers will support our art by buying our books and reviewing them positively. But the difference between writers and the typical card/slot player is stark. Casino gamblers expect they’ll someday gather their winnings; authors realize they may be die before their readership balloons.

Consider poor Herman Melville (1819-1891). Moby Dick was an abject failure when Melville first published it. The author died of cardiovascular disease in 1891 unrecognized as a great artist. In 1919 a revival of his works prompted by D.H. Lawrence, William Faulkner, and Hart Crane, gave new life to Melville’s romanticist creations, making him a standout of the period.

John Keats (1795-1821), the English poet died of tuberculosis at age 26 in poverty, thinking he was a failure as an artist. Add Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Soren Kierkegaard, Franz Kafka, and many others to the list of now-revered writers who never earned recognition in their times.

As I begin writing my twelfth novel, Melville’s story haunts me. I don’t write exclusively for myself and the mere pleasure of producing a novel. I yearn for my books to sell far and wide. And if the readers who appreciate my stories aren’t alive today, can I remain motivated enough to craft a mystery for future humans? Am I resilient enough to bet on the come?

My answer is obvious. I’ve written and published eleven novels since 2011. Clearly, I’m also a gambler, betting on the come.


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