Can you make your own luck?

There’s a saying – “I’d rather be lucky than good.” And it always makes me wonder – Can’t I be both?

This weekend, I’m attending the launch party for a friend of mine, her debut novel. I am so happy for her. Although I’ve only known here for about three years, she’s been writing much longer. She’s done short fiction, worked a novel (for which she had an agent) for years. She wrote this book a while ago, and when the other novel didn’t go anywhere, she decided to go back to it.

And just when she was about to step back and take stock again, she got an offer from Henery Press.

How lucky, right? Well, sure, but…

Earlier in the week, another Mysterista talked about using “she’s just lucky” as kind of a derogatory statement, and an excuse to cover up your own failings. It assumes that both you and the other person worked equally hard, were equally talented, performed equally well – whatever. And yes, sometimes it’s true. But the ugly green-eyed monster of jealous and the influence of sour grapes can make us retreat to “she’s just lucky.”

It overlooks the years of working, practice, honing your skills, waiting and hoping. There are few “overnight” success stories. Most “overnight successes” took years or more – until the dice of luck finally fell in the person’s favor. It happened to JK Rowling, it’s happened to numerous musical stars and athletes.

Because the fact is success takes a lot of work. And after you’ve poured in the years of sweat equity (practice, training, learning, etc.), it takes a little luck. The stars someday line up in your favor. Sometimes you can give them a nudge, but mostly it means waiting and working – and staying open and alert that maybe this time is your time.

So, this weekend, I could be morose and bitter, and mutter to myself that my friend is just lucky. Instead, I’m going to party like there’s no tomorrow and rejoice in the fact that this time, luck was in her corner – and she completely and utterly deserves it (seriously, Circle of Influence from Henery Press – get a copy, it’s fabulous).

And then I’m going to shake her hand and hope some of her luck rubs off on me – and get back to writing, of course.

So what about you: lucky, good, or both?


Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She survived growing up through reading, cutting her mystery teeth on Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark and, of course, Nancy Drew. As an adult, she finds escape from the world of software documentation through creating her own fictional murder and mayhem. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two teenage children, and fantasizes about owning a dog again - one of these days.

5 thoughts on “Can you make your own luck?”

  1. Well said, Mary.
    I love this theme — luck — it is really a thought provoking one and I have such mixed feelings about the word itself. Every post, including yours, has made me think hard about what it means. THanks!


  2. Kristi, I feel the same. I want to *be* lucky, but at the same time, saying “oh, you’re so lucky” seems off-putting somehow. Cynthia, thanks. Sweat-equity is one of my favorite phrases – it covers so much. My friend will be interviewing here next week (I think) so you’ll get even more then.


  3. Checking in from LCC: and I actually like knowing that I’ve earned anything good that’s happened to me. The success might not be as sweet if it fell into my lap. And one thing I know is that I prefer the taste of success over sour grapes!


  4. You are a good friend, Mary. Your friend is lucky to have you–please wish her well from me, and if she’d ever like to share this Made It Moment on my blog, she is more than welcome! As for your post, this quote by Roy Chapin, Jr. sums up my thoughts: “Luck is the time when preparation and opportunity meet.”


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