Novel Completion Queries, Day Ten

Is the novel finished? NO

Today’s question: Do you feel lucky?

My answer: I do, but I also believe strongly that with luck it isn’t the “lucky” thing that happens to you, but what you do in the aftermath of that event that matters.


46 Comments on “Novel Completion Queries, Day Ten”

  1. Obligatory:

    “But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow you head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?”

    But seriously…yeah, I do. My life is of course the product of my decisions, but I think I’ve done OK with what’s been in my path to deal with as well.

  2. On a macro scale, certainly (middle class, good education, healthy as a horse, etc.). On a micro scale, say, games of chance and the like? Noooo, my luck is terrible.

  3. Like you, I’d say I’ve been lucky, but that luck holds no sway over future events. Teela Brown was a fun idea in a story, but was much more fantasy than science fiction.
    My good fortune includes surviving a car accident that should have left me squashed into an unrecognizable pulp, finding and marrying a wonderful woman, having two wonderful, healthy boys, and working with an organization that I’m proof of.

  4. ‘Uh uh. I know what you’re thinking. “Did he write six pages or only five?” Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. ‘ – Scalzi

    Yeah. I’m very lucky. I’m alive and healthy, I get to use the internet and talk to all sorts of people and read & learn anything I want, I get to write software (which I like to do). I’m very fortunate. I don’t care about the lottery, I already won.

  5. Argh. An organization I’m PROUD of.
    What good is a preview button if you still don’t see your mistakes until after you hit. “Post Comment?”

  6. Always. Not “win the lottery” lucky, but “things work out for the best” lucky. To cite a recent example, I got fired, but found a much better job in a matter of days. Didn’t even have to touch my savings. I’ve got a long list of “just in the nick of time” scenarios where my life could have gotten really, really bad, but something worked out at the last second.

    Realistically, is it luck? I tend to plan for the worst, establish contingencies, etc. So maybe luck is just superior preparation. But I still feel lucky.

  7. I write a lot about the role of luck in successful writing and other careers. Milton said, “Luck is the residue of opportunity and design,” and was later famously quoted by philosophical baseball player Branch Rickey.

    There’s also psychological research that shows that people who feel lucky often have better outcomes, partly because their optimism encourages them to persevere. See: .

  8. Like Bryan L., I feel lucky, but I believe life rewards action. So when possible I keep moving toward the things I want and then feel incredibly lucky when I get them. (I’ve got plenty of unwanted things in my life too, but I choose not to focus my attention there. I ignore the obligatory less lovely things of life and that allows me to ramp up the feeling of being lucky.)

  9. Bryan L – me, too. Some of my best “breaks” came on the heels of what seemed, at the time, the worst. I think this has something to do with the endowment effect fallacy that states that you tend to overvalue things you own just because you happen to own them. Once you no longer own them (e.g., get fired) you realize they weren’t so great to start with, and that clears your way to get something better.

  10. I feel very lucky, and as to your other point about how you react, to quote Louis Pasteur, “fortune favors the prepared mind”.

  11. I create my own good luck by the choices I make. To the extent that I have the ability to choose a particular course of action, yes, I am very lucky. And since I have a whole helluva lot more opportunities to make my own choices than my female ancestors did, or than people in other countries do, or than people of color do, I am undisputedly luckier than any of those folks.

    In terms of the outcome of random happenstance, I am neither more nor less lucky than anyone else in the world.

  12. I’ve been lucky, but as they say in financial prospectuses, “past results are no guarantee of future performance”.

    (As you’ve pointed out, being a straight white male is good luck right out of the box, and I don’t have to worry about any of those going away.)

  13. My godfather used to say, “Luck is nothing more than preparation met with opportunity.”

    Certainly been the case for me so far.

  14. White, male, healthy, working and still restless brain, no debts, living in the West in this time of history. So yes.

    The major downside – and talk about First World problems – is that being lucky can make you lazy. Without the true hunger (and the memory of generations of hunger) you can get complacent. I am not a believer but I think sloth is the true sin of the wealthy. The danger is that we don’t live and create but merely consume and watch time go by.

  15. I’ve been studying the Stoic philosophers and what they say about negative visualization is true. It makes you appreciate what you have SO much more and I just feel amazingly lucky every day.

  16. What I want to know is: John, do you have a file-folder of these questions hoarded away somewhere for a rainy day, or do you just come up with them on the fly off the top of your head?

  17. I feel immensely fortunate.

    I like this better than luck: it rolls up gratitude for what I’ve got, especially the unearned bits, and awareness that I made a lot out of what I got, sometimes with minimal effort, more often with massive effort. I made a lot of compost out of my assorted piles of shit, as well as getting some insanely lucky breaks that I was in a position to take advantage of, because of having worked my ass off.

  18. Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as “bad luck.”

    – Lazarus Long, fictional character created by R.A. Heinlein



    On to my answer. Yup. I’m lucky. Some of that is luck that cannot be transferred. Some if it is luck that can be spread around.

    What I try to do is to foster opportunities for those that cannot access the non-transferable luck. Which means paying attention to people that are not like me and removing artificial roadblocks to their achieving success.

    The luck that can be spread around is being born into a society with a constitutionally limited government that is based on defending and extending individual liberty. The results of such a society is also known as “good luck”. See above for a contrast.

    There is also the luck you make for yourself by being prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they come down the pike. I’ve had some of that as well.


  19. When I realized that both of my grandfathers could have easily been killed during WWII if the Pacific Theater went differently, preventing me from being born; and that my wife could have died in childbirth four years ago, totally changing the life I would have had at this point, I feel lucky indeed.

  20. I do feel lucky, but I also believe luck favors the prepared. A big part of luck is also keeping your etes open and watching what’s actually going on around you, then knowing the significance of it and how to capitalize on it. Neither of those are my original concepts, but I can’t remember where I was lucky enough to run into them…

  21. Lucky: “having, bringing, or resulting from luck.” Luck: “the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person’s life.” Feeling lucky: “an emotional feeling that some force is operating for good in a person’s life.” Easy question for a believing Christian here. Of course I am feeling lucky. Every day. The force that operates for good in my life being the divine being Christians call God. Yes, I know, most people do not associate luck with God or any other divine being. But hey, read the definitions. God certainly qualifies as a force. Not religious? Substitute “fate” for “god.”

  22. Given where I started and where I am now, yes. I’m not lucky all the time, but overall I seem to have hit a pretty good patch of luck. I have hopes for the future too!

  23. I not only feel lucky (white hetro male in USA), but also “got lucky” this morning. Which explains my big grin. :^)

  24. Of course, there is no such thing as luck.

    Our universe is irremediably stochastic. We are buffeted by the randomness of events in our world and we navigate through the resulting turbulence as best we can. Most days, we survive and even thrive. Some days, we feel relieved to get through it all undamaged. And on a few very rare, very scary days, our lives are in the balance and our skills are tested. Not everyone passes the test.

  25. Aren’t you supposed to follow that with “Well, do ya’….Punk?” whilst squinting and pointing a .44 Magnum at a crazy piece of human toxic waste? I realize the .44 Magnum would be problematic for you on several levels, but this is ART!!!!

  26. Now I have got Mary Chapin-Carpenter stuck in my head, as well as her song “I Feel Lucky.”

  27. Luck is a random intersection of coincidence and choice. Whether “luck” is good or bad is entirely subjective, and many times what we term “luck” occurs without personal awareness of its occurrence. But it is fun to contemplate and talk about with friends and acquaintances, and it gives one an emotional ping when we apprehend its occurrence in our life.

  28. Very lucky to be born playing life on Easy mode, and even luckier possessing a cut of thinkmeat able to handle modern life in a way that makes me valuable to the ownership class.

  29. NO NO NO
    You have to read “Do you feel lucky?” in a SpongeBob SquarePants voice.
    NOT Clint Eastwood.

  30. there is a difference between being lucky and the ability to see the future. it’s not hard to see what appears to be random events culminating in a single instant that IS predictable. the real key is doing it consciously. we can all do it subconsciously (i.e. gift of fear). but to hone that into a skill is something amazing. I’m still working on it, do I feel lucky? no. But I am fortunate like Scalzi in that I have the easiest setting in this game called life.

  31. I don’t walk around feeling lucky or unlucky. I have a good life. Sometimes surprising, good things happen. Sometimes surprising, bad things happen. The canoe always rights itself and I’m glad the river still runs.

  32. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all… so I’m forced to say “yes”. With a caveat that I have no idea which direction the luck is currently pointing at present.

  33. Professional gamblers are going to take the names of people who feel lucky… Then offer to let you join there “low stakes” poker game just for fun.

  34. I don’t feel lucky (or particularly unlucky). Feeling lucky makes people do very foolish things.

    I do feel I’ve been fortunate. I managed to work enough years at a job with good benefits so that I now get paid to stay home and do whatever I want, and I have more enjoyable things to do than time to do them all in. Plus, partner, cats, ferrets, and a puppy sleeping on my feet. That there’s good fortune.

  35. I’m not lucky in the traditional sense, but aside from a teensy little problem with depression & anxiety, my life if pretty sweet. So, while I may not be able to hit a casino without expecting to lose every bit of money I bring in, I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to live out my life in comfort.

  36. Dear John,

    I feel both lucky *and* fortunate (which are not the same things), well beyond what entitlements I’m getting from the near-easiest-level play.

    It’s more like playing on that level and finding the fifth Golden Ticket lying in the gutter.

    More than once.

    pax / Ctein

  37. Intellectually, I know I’ve ducked death quite a few times where it was dumb luck that saved me.

    But at a visceral level, no, I don’t feel lucky.

    Kinda weird, but the question was “feel” lucky, so….

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