In the musical Guys and Dolls, there’s a song called “Luck be a lady tonight.” Gamblers are great believers in luck, and enhancing their luck with lucky shirts, coins and rabbit’s feet. But I’m not entirely sure that I believe there is such a thing as luck.
I was listening to some Madoff investors on the radio the other day, bemoaning their bad luck. They blamed the IRS, the SEC, Madoff, and occasionally themselves for the loss of their life savings. They had felt lucky for years to be one of the chosen few investing with Madoff and getting such great returns. And now they felt like the unluckiest people in the world. They wanted to blame someone. But perhaps both were an illusion, just like those billions of dollars.
When someone gets a great cover, and gets great press—is it just luck, or is it something else? Opportunity, they say, is a combination of preparation and luck. We are in the right place at the right time. But if you do your homework, then you increase the chances that you will sell your book. After all, you have a better chance of selling it to an agent or editor who is interested in your topic at a writing conference, then you sending it randomly to a name you found in a book on agents and editors.
Launching a book opens you to good and bad things everyday. For every great review, there’s someone else out there who thinks they could have done it better—or thinks you should have. We’ve all read books from time to time that have made us scratch our heads over their huge sales and critical acclaim. But just because we don’t get it, does that mean the author is lucky?
I have a friend who can always find a good parking spot. She always believes that she will, and so maybe that’s why she always does. The glass is half empty or half full depending on who is looking at it. If you remember your triumphs, you feel lucky. And if all you remember is the heartache, then you’ll feel like the unluckiest person alive.
So when I’m tired from my third book signing of the week, and realizing that I’m going to be away from my family this weekend again, I remind myself that I’m lucky. Very, very lucky. If indeed there is such a thing as a luck.