The Insult of Luck

People seem to want, even need luck of some sort. Hell, don’t we all feel lucky at some point?  Sure we do. When does the mention of luck ever bring anybody down, right?

When you’re a writer, the mention of luck can bring you down a lot.

Like, a whole lot.

I’ve worked really hard over the years, honing my skills as a writer. That means doing a fuckton of writing. Writing things that are terrible, just to finish them; writing stories that no one will ever see. Writing pure shit just to be able to tell the difference when you do actually write something good. Writing isn’t always a natural talent. More often than not, it’s a skill just like anything thing else. You have to practice. You have to do it every day, or as much as you can. It means (in my case) getting up at 4:30 am to write as much as possible before the kids wake up.

It also means rejection letters. A LOT of rejection letters. I thought I got rejected a lot when I was dating in High School. Or in college. Or as an adult….you get the idea. You go back, and you work on your budding skills and you send your work out again and again. Then you get told no again and again.

And then, you get the ‘yes’ and a contract and ideally, a check for your work.

Does any of that sound like luck?

Because, now that you’ve gotten published, there are going to be a lot of people that will congratulate you and almost certainly, one of them will say “Wow, you sure got lucky!”

If you’ve spent a lot of time burning midnight oil on writing and missing things just to get better at your craft, then being told you were lucky is going to piss you off just a little bit.

However, you have to rise above. That’s your ego, after all. Try not to take it too personally. There are a lot of things that go with being a writer. If you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ve probably developed a pretty thick skin. (Rejection letters will toughen you up.) But, you may not be ready to be told that all of your hard work is simply you being lucky for once.

What you need to keep in mind is that the person saying this to you probably isn’t a writer and wouldn’t know where to begin doing what you do. They don’t know they’re insulting you. They really are paying you a compliment in their eyes because they don’t know about fourth or fifth or twentieth rewrites, or not sleeping because the story wants out of your head, or everything you miss because you’re writing.

Remember this if someone attributes your success-big or small-to luck; you are lucky. You can do something few others can do. You can do something that people don’t or can’t do. You have follow through and determination. You don’t stop. You don’t quit. You carry on and you do what it is you do. You’re lucky because of that alone. It is work, it is passion and it is a gift that you give to yourself. You’re damn near a superhero. You create worlds, you populate that world and you get to share it with anyone who wants to see it. That is a lucky thing indeed.

Sure, when you get your first novel published and someone tells you “Boy, you sure are lucky,” it might piss you off. But don’t let it ruin it for you. To that person, you are pretty lucky because they never see the work. You’re making it look easy.

So rock on, you lucky so and so…now, get back to work.