If you've got five chances, throw four at whatever you can reasonably hit. But, as for the fifth…
In 1991, in broad daylight, I'm pounding on the heavy glass doors of Spivak's Art Supply, a store that had been open for many years until this very day, the one day I really have to get inside.
All of the windows and doors are papered over from the inside and the lights are out.
My fist is meeting the glass with the kind of desperation that gets people arrested and put in jail, every day of the week. I don't hear any noise at all from inside.
Boiling over all at once, I run around to the alley in back and up the short ramp where trucks had formerly unloaded easels and drawing boards and whatever else into this store. I put my ear to the door and I can distinctly hear someone speaking out loud in there, and the pounding I give the door now surprises even me."Open up! I gotta have my drawing back! Please open up this door!"
I had recently discovered that color Xerox machines could reproduce the details and nuances of graphite pencil drawings far better than standard Xerox machines could, and for a fraction of the price of PMTs and stats. I was trying to drum up freelance work by printing self promotion posters featuring color Xeroxes of a pencil drawing I'd done depicting three babies emerging from three roses-- Nursery is its title.
I'd been able to afford to have five of these posters printed; I'd sent four of them to local ad agencies, but on a crazy whim, I'd sent the fifth to one of my favorite writers, Harlan Ellison, through the publishers of his most recent book.
Weeks later, none of the ad agencies had contacted me, but Harlan Ellison called me on the phone, much to my stammering amazement.
And months later he called again, this time to say that he wanted to use the Nursery image for the cover of his forthcoming book, but only if I could get the original mailed off to him to be properly photographed, and in something of a hurry.
Of all the paintings and drawings I could have chosen to hang at Spivak's Art Supply for their customer appreciation show, Nursery was, of course, among them. And the day Harlan Ellison called to ask for that drawing turned out to be, of course, the day that Spivak's had gone out of business and locked its doors for almost the final time…
I don't know what became of the rest of the art hung for Spivak's customer appreciation show, but Nursery did become the cover of Harlan Ellison's book, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, and I've done additional work for him in the years that have followed.
If you've got five chances, throw four at whatever's within your reach. But that fifth chance? Slam it at the fucking moon while you still have time…