Feeling Lucky by Deb Meredith

posedformurderIn 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.

10 thoughts on “Feeling Lucky by Deb Meredith

  1. I think we’re so desperate to have a way to explain things that we latch onto the idea that some people are fate’s darlings and some people aren’t. At the end of the day, though, a lot of people we think are lucky aren’t. The Bernie Madoff thing blows my mind. After a long, prosperous life, he could have retired comfortably and enjoyed his last years. Instead, he decided he needed MORE money, and now he’s going to finish his life in prison, universally reviled.

    But I’ll bet before all the #@!% hit the fan, there were plenty of people who thought, “I wish I was as lucky as that guy!”

  2. I think there certainly is some nature of randomness as far as a book’s success, rather, something that we can’t quite define about why a certain book catches fire. But I do believe in that expression that you can “make your own luck”, that is, increase the odds of success by being smart and diligent. And that goes for more than just books, of course.

  3. Doesn’t this whole thing with Madoff turn your stomach, Katie? The man must have had nerves of steel taking everyone’s money, and knowing that someday he’d end up in jail.

    I think you’re right, Kris. We can certainly help to make our own luck, but there’s no way to really figure out why one book becomes huge and another doesn’t. If we knew, we’d all be as rich as Madoff. Or as rich as he was. Or was that all an illusion, too?

  4. “but there’s no way to really figure out why one book becomes huge and another doesn’t”

    Exactly. The answer every author, agent, editor and publisher would love to know.

  5. Meredith –

    I’m with you. I’m not quite sure I believe in luck. So much of what you take away from any given situation depends on how you look at it. Oh, my house burnt down (bad luck, wouldn’t you say?). No one was in it (good luck, right?). More on that on Friday, I guess.

    Don’t even get me started on Madoff … but can I just say that Bernie Madoff is just the most recent and the most blatant symbol of a huge problem in our culture: unalloyed GREED and the belief that we really can have something for nothing!

  6. Larramie & Eve–you’re so right about Madoff’s greed. The whole financial mess really comes down to a whole lot of people turning a blind eye to shenanigans as long as the money kept rolling in. And we have the bad luck to be caught in the middle of it all (or the good luck–if we finally get some reform!).

  7. I am so lucky to have NO MONEY to lose…I have nothing to worry about.
    I am so lucky to wake up every morning and read the obituaries about people not so lucky.
    I am so lucky my kids and their kids are safe…with only one complaining about his bad luck. Not too bad.
    I am so lucky I was safe on 9/11, even as I watched the towers crumble from SI. I am so lucky no one really close to me was in there.
    I am so lucky to be working at my age in this economy, and so are most of those I know.
    I am so lucky to live in a place I love…safe and secure.

    And if something happens that is not so lucky…oh well. I am so lucky my memory is lousy, I soon forget it.

  8. You are lucky, Eve’s Mom! The ability to let your hurts and all the lousy stuff go is a wonderful. I’m sure you’re much happier for it–and attract more happiness that way.

  9. Hi Meredith,

    I think everyone is happier when we count ourselves lucky in small and big ways. I think greed or an “it’s all about me” attitude will lead to feeling unlucky. I think Eve’s Mom has the right idea.

    Terrie

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