A few days ago, Jonathan wondered what role does pure luck play in an academic career. In my opinion, not too much, but don't discount it. Sometimes, it happens. Here is an example:
Earlier this year, I submitted an essay to a peer-reviewed journal. It was accepted in June with only some minor revisions asked, and I got the final acceptance two weeks ago. It will be in print in a few months. The essay analyses a novel from a fairly famous Argentine writer. This person, however, is better known for his public persona as an "intellectual" and for his essays (not academic essays, but in the tradition of the genre). He also writes fiction, but his novels from the past 20 years are anything but remarkable. His earlier novels, though, are wonderful. These novels often get mentioned in passing in articles, but there have been very few academic articles specifically about them. My academic article focuses on one of his early novels.
Today, I was reading an academic book that was published a month ago (so it was published AFTER I submitted my manuscript). The author is an up-and-coming star in my field (it's hir first book, several articles published in all the top journals, recently tenured at an R1). I see that part of a chapter is a study of the same novel I wrote about, so I read it. And I found out that hir analysis is pretty similar to mine. Now, to clarify things, s/he hasn't published any article about that novel nor is there any manuscript, draft or else on the Internet about it. Same applies to me. It was simple coincidence. I felt odd. On one side, I felt proud in an "great minds think alike" sort of way. Then, I realized that if I hadn't sent the article when I did, if I had waited six month, I wouldn't have been able to publish it, because what I wanted to say would had already been said. In this particular case, it was timing and sheer luck that helped me get the article published. I don't know if there is a moral to the story, except don't procrastinate, but it happens. And I consider myself a lucky person