Opportunity, we’re told, unlike the postman, only knocks once. There are both truths and fictions inherent in that idea. Anthologies, for example, are a one-shot deal, generally: if you don’t have a story that fits, the deadline passes and with it, the opportunity. Many contests, however, are repeating — quarterly (Writers of the Future) or annually (the Science Fiction at the UPC Award, the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest). Submissions in general can be repeated to other magazines, other editors, other agents. Opportunities litter the ground.
On the other hand, when a new opportunity comes up, it’s nice to be able to grab it immediately. When Daily Science Fiction opened to submissions last year, I sent them something the very first day. When Moongypsy Press had their contest to celebrate their first anniversary, I took time out from my other commitments to put together a novel proposal. Both of those actions paid off for me — I sold “Essence of Truth” to Daily Science Fiction, and my proposed novel, Touching Time, won Moongypsy’s contest.
I heard about another potential opportunity recently, and I immediately started brainstorming on how I could address it. I think the window on this chance is a bit wider than for some others — at least, I hope it is. This time, I don’t feel comfortable dropping everything else to the back burner while I take a flyer on something that might not play out. I’ve made commitments, such as finishing Touching Time, and I feel meeting those before I chase the latest opportunity is important.
On the other hand, I am planning ahead, getting things set up so I can grab the opportunity when I can. Given a choice, I grab every opportunity I can.