Friday, April 13, 2012

Writers and the Good Luck/Bad Luck Gambit

by Darke Conteur

In honour of Friday the thirteenth, I thought I'd take a look at the one commodity all writers think they need—LUCK. One definition of the word is as follows: Success or failure apparently brought on by chance rather than through one's own actions.

Those are some pretty harsh words. Basically, it's saying that people would rather sit and dream about what could happen, instead of going out and making it happen.

I am one of the most superstitious people you will ever meet, but I have to wonder if we blame luck for our own shortcomings as writers, and hail it when we receive the reward for a job well done. Don't get me wrong, I believe in luck, but I also believe that you have to meet it halfway. Maybe that query was rejected because the author didn't follow the submission guidelines, or it was poorly written. Maybe the author got the agent of his/her dreams because they spent years learning and honing their craft. In either case, the outcome fell solely on the talent (or lack thereof) of the writer. It had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with knowledge and determination.

Relying on ourselves can sometimes put us in unfamiliar or uncomfortable positions. Self-doubt will always be with us, hiding within the small corners of our mind. My advice, never brush it away. Embrace it. Allow yourself to understand why you have this doubt about your work, but don't let it guide your actions. Remember, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy, and in the end, when things start to go in your favour, you'll know that it was more you and your hard work that helped you to accomplish your goal, than some mysterious force.

Darke Conteur is the author of stories from the darker side of life. Blogs here, Tweets here & plays Facebook games here.


Pk Hrezo said...

I kind of believe we make our own luck through positive thinking and good karma. We have to be open to it as well. Very few writers get anywhere based on luck.

Ryan Stuart Lowe said...

Maybe luck is necessary, but it isn't sufficient? If you succeed at anything, there will be some talent involved -- but it's not the only thing.

J. K. Rowling might always have gotten published, but if she had written Harry Potter ten years earlier -- or ten years later -- it might not have popped into the popular culture scene as much as it did. Stephenie Meyer got very lucky, IMO -- but that's not to say that she didn't also have a fair bit of talent in tapping into a cultural zeitgeist.

If you succeed, you should acknowledge that some of your success was based on things outside your control. If you fail, you should recognize that some of your failure was based on your own contribution. It's humility, either way -- and honesty.

Ty Unglebower said...

I agree with most of what you say; we must work hard if we expect luck to have any role. Fortune favors the prepared, after all.

Yet in an industry so deeply rooted in impressing one single person on the exact right day in their lives, i think we overlook luck to our peril. Let's face it, this is not an industry the rewards talent, per se. Hard working, brilliant people often never get published no matter how many times they try. Sometimes the wrong person having a toothache the day you pitch your idea or your manuscript spells the end of your chances, no matter how good your stuff really is.

If that isn't a system with a strong luck component, I don't know what is.

Hard work is vital...except when it's not. Because we all know that a lot of drivel gets published because it hit the right person on the right day.

Studying, practice and perseverance, while noble, are often isn't enough, and that is when I feel you can say luck played a big role.

Jean Oram said...

I think luck is the icing on the hardwork cake. A little luck in meeting the right person at the right time to bring you to the right place in your writing career... or is that fate... hmmm.

Jemi Fraser said...

I THINK it was Stephen Leacock who said, 'the harder I work, the luckier I am'. I like that! I believe in luck too - but I'm going to work my patootie off to help it out a little! :)

E.B. Black said...

It's a combination of hard work AND luck. Not everyone who works hard is going to get a book deal.

icedgurl said...

trekking your blog!!! OMG! i forgot that its Friday the 13th. i remembered the black cat omen.