Life lessons: You can’t win the lotto if you don’t play


Academia has this adage: “Publish or perish.” From what I hear, it’s kinda true. (And you thought this post was about the lottery.) In order to be a successful academic, particularly at research intensive universities like the one I attend, you must to be publishing or you won’t make tenure and promotion. Of course, publishing isn’t really a user-friendly process. In my field, there are only a handful of journals. They publish four times a year, maybe 10 or 11 articles per issue. And in order to be considered, you must submit articles for peer review, a protracted process that can take upwards of six months, so I hear. And most articles don’t make it.

Stressful stuff. And people seem to worry about it… a lot. Including us grad student types. Especially us grad student types, I should say. I can’t tell you how many “I’d like to get published”/”We should really publish something”/”How the hell do you get published?!” conversations I’ve taken part in over the last several years. Well, I’ve determined it’s like the lotto: You can’t win unless you actually play.

Which brings me to my new year’s goals (Awkward transition, I know. Stay with me.). Last week in my list-making euphoria, I told you 15* of my goals, two of which I’ve actually tackled this week. On New Year’s day, T and I attacked the office and I’m pleased to tell you that I can actually see the floor and my desktop for the first time in years. (I’m barely exaggerating.) Chained within this delightfully refined space, I’ve spent the last five days hammering away at a manuscript. An hour ago, I submitted it for my first go in the academic lottery. Eeeeeeeee! (That’s an excitement + terror squeal, in case you were wondering.)

Considering I’ve already had my first “rejection” dream**, it’s going to be a long few months waiting for feedback. Will they hate it? Am I an idiot? I got that master’s degree with this paper… what if they were wrong??? (Deep breaths.) But I’m hopeful, just like I was when I sent T to the grocery store along with countless others to buy tickets for the Megamillions drawing last night. (I’m still not a millionaire, sadly.) I figure if I’m irrationally hopeful (delusional) about those long odds, I should be optimistic about a scenario where I actually have a fighting chance. Ah, we’ll see.

In the mean time, I encourage you to play your own dream lottery, whatever it may be.


* 15 of 55 currently, in case you’re keeping track
** A couple days ago, I dreamt about the submission process. I’d uploaded my document, hit submit, and then immediately a box popped up: “DENIED.” Instant rejection. Ugh. Let’s hope real life goes a bit differently, yes?

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