Luck be a lady tonight
Luck let a gentleman see
Just how nice a dame you can be
I know the way you’ve treated other guys you’ve been with
Luck be a lady with me
I was roaming the web, the other night – too hot to sleep – and I chanced on a list, one of those lists that sometimes appear on blogs (I’m pretty positive I did something similar, too), about what you need to be a successful writer.
A successful writer’s list of essentials, if you will.
About one third of the way down, after inspiration and humility and don’t giving a damn about it all, the author of the list mentioned Luck as an indispensable trait for the successful writer.
And I’m not sure about that, really.
Now, it maybe comes from having been involved in statistical analysis for many years, but you see, I have a certain view of Luck.
Let me explain.
I have no doubt that an unpredictable set of circumstances, governed by chance, can make or break the success of a book.
It happens, it can’t be denied.
But I can’t factor that chance mix of circumstances as one of my wining traits as a writer.
It’s not an asset.
Because Luck is a fickle, capricious lover.
And that’s the charm of the lady.
She likes you to trust in her, but to look out for yourself.
She does not approve of anyone counting on her.
You can’t own Luck.
Ladies don’t work like that.
And it’s a very bad idea to think Luck can own you.
I read too many books on the subject, lectured too many times about chance, and error margins, and all that jazz.
So, while I can hope for a stroke of Luck with my writing, and certainly do keep an eye out for good opportunities and lucky breaks, I have this sort of pretty unscientific, somewhat superstitious caution – I cannot list Lady Luck as one of my assets.
Because she comes and goes as she pleases.
And I think it is not a good idea, considering Luck a requirement for success, because it is a quantity we cannot control, and if we really believe our success hinges on Luck, we run the risk of spending our time waiting for that break. We put our future in the hands of Luck, we lose control – we stop working, we start hoping.
I think that’s the road to failure.
I prefer to put all my energies in what I control – practice, discipline, hard work, fun and games, weird ideas, silly writing bouts, long reading binges, nights spent talking to friends, afternoons spent studying strangers and eavesdropping their conversations.
Editing. Revising. Trying out new things.
That’s what I can put on my list, that’s what I can work out to improve.
Let’s lave Luck to her own things.
She’ll be a lady, if she will.