Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursentary: Good Luck and Good Night

I’ve been doing this thing lately where I go out of my way not to wish people good luck.

If you know me and you love me then you know that I love H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden, and if you really know me then I lent Aftershock to you and quoted the lines as you were reading them based on your laughter.

Oh, Aftershock.

via Goodreads
Take a look at page 111, where Otto and Wing are about to break school rules (again) and potentially threaten the school’s safety (again).

“I would wish us good luck but I know you do not approve of such things,” Wing said, smiling.
“If success is dictated by luck, then it isn’t really success at all,” Otto replied, still staring at his Blackbox.

It is hard for me to say how much those words resonate with me.

I mean, it would be like getting an assignment at school, putting in hours of labor and grueling time, and then having the teacher take every assignment and determine the grade by a coin toss: heads is an A, tails is an F.

Nothing you did led to your good grade, and that’s not really something to be commended. Therefore, I’ve been trying not to wish people good luck.

It’s harder than it sounds. I mean, for example, I’ll do a linkup like that of Beautiful People, and I’ll go around to see other people’s posts. They’ll confess some struggle, and then I will commiserate, and then, in solidarity with our mutual wish for their success, I will say, “Good Lu—oh.”

It’s one of those things that makes a good closing because it communicates well wishes, and a desire for success, and good outcomes, and happiness.

But at the same time, a lot of what I do as a writer is trying to figure out what other people do so I can write about it realistically. And I know that if you are trying to succeed at something—really trying—whether it be riding a bike or getting a good grade or completing a novel, you are going to put a buttload of work into that thing.

If you succeed, it’s because you stayed up late when you were tired. It’s because you never stopped, despite the opposition. It’s because you kept fixing your mistakes again and again, even when it hurt. It’s because you got help, you stood up to your own fears and dared to do things you never dreamed, and in the end, it’s because you turned sweat into awesome with all of the resources available to you.

As Otto says, that’s not really the same kind of deal one gets out of a coin toss.

That’s my attempt, now. I try to say, “Keep writing!” or “I hope you do the thing!” or “Way to go, and I look forward to hearing more about it!”

Because at least, to me, those sound like encouragements, and a way to support the idea of effort, even when it’s hard.

Just seems the thing to do.


Clearly, books can get to me sometimes, so that’s my question fo-o-o-o-or you! Yes, you! (That’s my inner Elmo coming out, sorry.)

I’m actively working to not say “Good luck” because of a book I read. It’s small, but it’s something. Has there ever been a book (or two or three or four?) that has encouraged you to make a change in your behavior, small or large? What was it, and are you still doing it today? Tell me! I want to know!


  1. This is great! I'll admit, I'm guilty of saying 'good luck' as my go-to response, but I have thought about that on occasion.
    This is kind of a goofy one, honestly, but I cannot for the life of me use the word 'unwind' casually now, unless I'm talking about the book. I just...can't. The horror.

    1. I know; it's just so easy to slip into the habit of saying it, and it's not necessarily bad, it just doesn't work for me.

      And no, I understand—I don't think I will ever be able to think of that word lightly ever again.

  2. I think writing is a delicate blend of both luck and hard work. It takes a lot of hard work to be able to write well and craft a good story, but unless you're lucky, that doesn't necessarily mean that the story may be published or be successful with readers.

    1. That's certainly one way to look at it! I, for one, don't believe in luck (not just because of H.I.V.E.) and if you work the system right, I imagine you can find success somehow. That's just me, though. Thanks for offering a contrasting opinion!

  3. Books often make me go 'oh' and change something small about what I do. And even though I have not read Aftershock, the lines you quoted resonated with me as soon as I finished them.

    I will be making an effort not to say good luck from now on. I know I often say it when people post about goals, and like you said, encouragement is more supporting and thoughtful.

    1. Just saying, you should read Aftershock, because I love those books. Just saying. XD ANYWAY, I'm glad the words resonated with you; H.I.V.E. is meant to be humorous and filled with action, but there are some true to life points stuck in there as well. :)

      Hey, go you. :) It's always good to be encouraging, especially when you have to put real meaning to your words. And that's what counts, I think!

  4. Ack, I don't know why it took me so long to comment on this. It just kept slipping my mind even though I bookmarked the page. Anyways, I wanted to say I totally agree with you, but it's so handy to end a comment that way. In Chinese, we have what I think is a much better equivalent, literally "add oil", meaning to redouble your efforts (and gain even more!) It still indicates solidarity and well wishes, but acknowledges their efforts too.

    Also, re: Star Wars, "there's no such thing as mere luck."

    1. It is handy, and I think that's why we don't think about it, as much. It's a rough thing. I like that phrasing much better, though! It reminds me of our own idea of "elbow grease" and you work really hard to get it up to par. How is it said in Chinese?

      And yes, Star Wars is very wise.


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