Lightning in a Bottle? Yes, Please!

Free photo from stock.xchng

Free photo from stock.xchng

Lightning in a bottle. Just the concept sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

The Urban dictionary describes it as, “Capturing something powerful and elusive and then being able to hold it and show it to the world.”

I have yet to find any instructions for how to do it. Though, I suppose obtaining those imaginary instructions would fall under the category of universe-shattering paradoxes like going back in time and killing yourself, or lassoing a unicorn while simultaneously snagging the pot of gold from the end of a rainbow.

Or getting the photographer at the DMV to take a picture in which I look better than the village idiot’s inbred cousin. (You can rest easy on this one by the way, at least until 2021 when my license next expires)

So, what has me thinking about lighting, unicorns, and going back in time to off myself today? Funny you should ask. Two things really. Bear with me for just a minute.


Binge eater extraordinaire, Augustus Gloop, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

My daughter and I have been binge-watching the previous season of The Voice since last Friday. She found it in our cable’s on-demand guide while searching for something else and saw that all the episodes would be unavailable after the 17th. I’m not generally a fan of “reality TV” because I feel in most cases it’s a terrible misnomer. We watched the first episode over dinner and we’re both hooked worse than Augustus Gloop on chocolate sprinkled with crack. I’m seriously blown away by the talent displayed from these people that 99.999% of the world has never heard of before these shows aired. Not just the winners, either. They sent home people whose singing made me weep. Nearly all of them had interesting stories to tell and simply loved music and would do almost anything to make a career out of it.

And those were just the ones that made it to the final auditions.

How many hundreds — or probably thousands — more tried out but didn’t make the final cut? How many were really good, but just didn’t have that little extra something that made someone stand up and notice?

This morning, I saw some news about J.K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter books, for those of you who dwell under rocks) and how she had written a well-received mystery novel under a pseudonym. The book had evidently garnered some good reviews, but was selling only moderately at best. Someone let the cat out of the bag over Twitter and the ruse was quickly tracked down and finally confirmed by Ms. Rowling’s people. Now, of course, the book is selling like crazy. Whether the discovery was a matter of good detective work or a desire from the publisher to shift more books, we may never know.

What’s the connection? Lightning in a bottle.

All those contestants on The Voice are hoping to catch it. Yet, despite all the talent that practically oozes off some of them, most still won’t snag it. Rowling captured it with Harry Potter and maybe wanted to see if she could do it again. We’ll never know now that the name game is up, but indications were that her alter ego would have become just another midlister. Talented, but never grabbing that spark that sends some ideas, products, or people into the stratosphere.

Hard work. Luck. Fortune. Fate. Timing. All these ingredients play a part, but never in the same amount or order.

The only thing I know for certain is you can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket.

So, I write stories. Will any of them ever make me the next J.K.? Who knows? But I’ll keep doing it because it brings pleasure to me and at least a few other folks out there in the big, wide world.

I’ll leave an open bottle on my desk though, just in case.


About Alan Tucker

Writer, Dad, Graphic Designer, Soccer Coach … not necessarily in that order!

Posted on July 15, 2013, in Books/Writing, Random/Rants and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. In many ways authors have caught the lightening in the bottle. A few short years ago most authors work would be stored away in a drawer or still bouncing around in their heads.

  2. I’ve always believed that “you have to be in it, to win it.” I don’t believe fate is handed to us – and believe we make our own path – yet this writing industry is so elusive at times – but unless we put our work out there, there’s no way of knowing where we’ll end up. Great blog – I hope you find your “lightning in a bottle!”

  3. Cate Russell-Cole

    Great post Alan.

  1. Pingback: Unbridled Joy | Our Great Escapes

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