I’ve always loved the idea that random events cluster. It’s a basic principal of statistics — if you flip a coin a bunch of times, even though your odds of heads or tails are 50-50 for each toss, you will almost certainly get a run of exclusively heads or tails at some point. And sometimes you’ll get a really long run, ten heads in a row maybe, and that’s when people think — Oh, I’m lucky. I can toss ten heads in a row!
Or, in sports, a basketball player sinks basket after basket. And an announcer will say — He can’t miss. He’s really on a hot streak!
But the truth is, you’re not lucky, and the basketball player isn’t on a hot streak. It’s simply that events that are essentially random, like the flip of a coin, or a pro player making a basket (remember, the best of them hit 50% of their shots) — these things tend to cluster. In mathematics, that belief in hot streaks is called the Clustering Illusion. And if you think about it, clustering is baked into the idea of randomness. If random events didn’t cluster, then they would show up at regular intervals, which by definition would mean they weren’t random. They would be planned. That would be a pattern.
All of this is a bit of a long winded introduction to the idea that I also have random events that are clustering in my life. In my case, the random events are getting books published and having television shows on the air at the same time.
Any writer worth his or her salt knows that getting a book out, or getting a TV show aired, is incredibly hard. So hard that they are basically random events. You cannot plan these things. The gods must shine their favor on you. Or you have to be lucky. Or, if you are a believer in statistics, your events need to cluster.
So here are my clustering events: A year ago, my first novel, The Ascendant, was released. The release date was January 7, 2014. Two days later, a TV show I produced and wrote — The Assets — premiered on ABC. Amazing coincidence. But how’s this for clustering?
Tomorrow night, November 2nd, 2015, a TV show I co-executive produced and wrote, Legends, will debut its second season on TNT. The show is a complete re-boot from its first season (which I did not work on), so much so that it is basically a full-on premiere. And the next morning, November 3rd, my second book, The King of Fear, will be released by Simon & Schuster.
Two books, two TV shows, both released with two days of each other, a year and a half apart. If I were a betting man, I would lay lots of money on a third book — and a whole new TV show — coming out with my name on them in early 2017. But I’m not a betting man — I believe in statistics — so I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. If it did, it would no longer be random, and I’m way too much of a struggling writer to believe that I could carve out that kind of pattern for myself.
So for now, I will enjoy the hot streak, even though I know it is an illusion. And I will comfort myself with the knowledge that illusions are what writing is all about.