This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Ambition Requires Delusion

“Psychologists say that the illusion of control can be adaptive, in the sense that it encourages a focus on problem-solving behaviors as opposed to emotional response.” — Bob Henderson, a former derivatives trader who lost and made back hundreds of millions of dollars during the 2008 financial crisis.

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

I think that I can control my life to a much greater degree than I probably can. Logically, I realize that most events are beyond my influence, but I’ve made the choice to ignore that. Why focus on it, right? Better to act like I can change things, because occasionally I can. For example, I pitch editors despite knowing that their inboxes are deluged by emails from people more qualified than me. Once in a while I make it through.

Here’s the equation for success: talent + hard work + perseverance + luck, usually in that order. Domain-related skill is not always a prerequisite, but you’ve got to be good at something, even if it’s just networking, in order to get ahead. Besides that, you have to create conditions for luck. It boils down to this: keep hustling, and stay ready to take any desirable opportunities that arise. In my experienced — admittedly limited, but still — this is a very effective strategy.

"My primary asset is a near-nonsensical belief in my ability to force personal success from the world. As in, extract my own personal success from the world. I just keep trying because I'm convinced it'll work soon."
Sonya Mann (that’s me) on Twitter.

Coming To Terms With Inequality (As In, I’m Still Doing It)

My economic politics are conflicted. On the one hand, I believe in relying on hard work and individual competency to get ahead. On the other hand, I realize that people are not created equal in any sense of the word. We can venerate the Declaration of Independence as much as we want, but ideals are ideals, not reality.

“Welcome to the Brave New World, one featuring even fewer haves and more have-nots than the current one.”

As someone who has suffered from debilitating depression, I know that hard work is not available to everyone. As for individual competency, that’s mostly luck. I happened to be born to wealthy white Ivy-educated parents, both very smart people. It sounds like bragging but I’m trying to be matter-of-fact. I’m intelligent and I do good work, because of cumulative circumstances beyond my control.

Good artists make art. Great ones make money.
Illustration by Christopher Dombres.

Anyway, this is related to something I posted on Medium: “Ew, Who Wants Meritocracy?” (The piece ended up there because I was in the process of revamping this website, so it was down.)

Sign up for my newsletter to stay abreast of my new writing and projects.

I am a member of the Amazon Associates program. If you click on an Amazon link from this site and subsequently buy something, I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you).