March Theme: Luck (Alan Gratz)

I've never been a huge believer in luck.

I get the idea of luck, sure. I've had a number of "lucky" things happen to me over the years. When I was a kid, I won an art contest and got a picture I drew posted on a billboard in my city, with my signature writ large for all my friends and family to see. When I was in grad school, I met my future wife while I was working at a bookstore. Later, when I was trying to write books for kids, I got lucky when an editor pulled my manuscript out of the slush pile and signed me to her list.

But we forget sometimes how responsible we are for our own luck. If I hadn't entered my drawing into the contest, I would never had been in a position to win and have my work posted on the billboard. If I hadn't taken that bookstore job over the projectionist job I had just gotten at a movie theater, I might never have met Wendi. If I hadn't spent nine months writing Samurai Shortstop and making sure it was the best book I could write, or had decided I couldn't handle rejection letters and never sent it out to editors, I would never have sold my first kids book.

One of my favorite Woody Allen lines is, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." Or, as my father and I like to tell each other, "You have to be in it to win it." To win the lottery, you first have to buy a ticket. (Not that I'm advocating the purchase of lottery tickets--those are bad odds.) I've had a lot more things an outside observer might call "lucky" happen to me besides the examples above. And yes, there often was a strong element of luck involved. But most of the time, I couldn't have gotten lucky in the first place if I hadn't put myself in a position to be lucky.

Don't wait for luck to happen to you. Make your own luck.


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