Random question, does "luck" actually exist?

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/6/2012 10:49 AM

This thought came to me while reading Tim Westlands thread about the Pitch Fest he attended. I was going to wish good luck when I had this existential crisis on the reality of this thing called "luck". It's the 2008 "Santa" crisis all over again. Now I'm not sure this thing we call luck actually exists.

Tim did the work he had to do to get his work in the right hands, nothing was random or left to chance, he did his part and he got the results of his efforts that he wanted. My opinion is there is no such a thing as luck, its all about what you do to attain the success you want.

What do you think?

Ps. Mods: If random topics not related to writing aren't allowed than please delete if you wish, I'm not sure of the rules

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 1:10 PM

I think luck exists, but maybe not as a concrete 'thing', but more as a serious of events.

Zach Jansen (Level 4) ~ 4/6/2012 1:46 PM

You make your own luck. Hard work, perseverence, and writing great stories help, though.

T. James DeStein (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 2:29 PM

"Chance favors the prepared mind."

- Travis Dane, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 4/6/2012 3:06 PM

"Luck favors the prepared" - Louis Pasteur

While going to Pitchfest doesn't qualify as "hard work", it does qualify as perseverance and I did have to be prepared.

The "luck" part of it... we were lucky that one of the guys at the wrong table was interested in the comic book aspect of our work. But if we hadn't been prepared, we wouldn't have had anything of interest to him and we would never have known about the opportunity.

Chance. Luck. Happenstance. Coincidence. They are just events to which we ascribe meaning (good or bad). It's when we apply supernatural cause or meaning that I start to roll my eyes.

So feel free to wish me all the luck you can manage. While I don't think it will directly cause lucky things to happen, it will certainly improve my spirits and act as positive feedback - which could make me perform better in a given circumstance and, ultimately, improve my chances at whatever I am being wished luck for.

[Tim takes a long breath]

Good luck, everyone!

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 4/6/2012 3:29 PM

Question: were we "lucky" or "fortunate" that nobody else was pitching Horror scripts?

They might be the same thing, but I'm going to be safe and take both of them.

Scott Merrow (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 4:02 PM

In my opinion, luck exists, but unfortunately it's a retrospective concept, not a predictive one. For example, if Joe Blow wins the Powerball jackpot twice in a row, we can think (in retrospect), wow, he's a lucky guy, but it has no bearing on the likelihood of his winning the Powerball (or anything else) ever again.

Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 8:38 PM

A waitress at a small-town greasy spoon in Minnesota was given a $12,000 tip.

That's plain lucky.

As a waitress in a small-town diner it wasn't a matter of not leaving anything to chance, or somehow putting herself in a position that would encourage a $12,000 tip. She could be the world's best small-town waitress and stay at her job for ten lifetimes and still never get another $12,000 tip, ever again.

It was a fluke, a stroke of luck. No other way to describe it.

Even well known actors, directors and producers are both lucky and unlucky. It's a fact of life. You start looking at how everything had to fall in line to get a one movie made and how one small thing fell out of place and killed another movie, and it's actually pretty amazing that anything gets made.

Of course that doesn't mean you sit on your butt and wait for "good luck".

Hustling gets you there more often. I worked as an installer at a smallish company with five salesmen. The one from New Jersey probably did more sales than the other four combined. Was he lucky? Sometimes. But every time I came in late, after everyone had gone home, there he was making a few more sales calls. He told me no matter how good you are, sales is still a numbers game.

So luck definitely exists, but I wouldn't depend on it.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/6/2012 9:52 PM

@Travis DeStein
""Chance favors the prepared mind."

- Travis Dane, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory"

I like that

@Tim Westland
(hulk hogan impression)
Good luck brother!

@Dan Delgado

But would that be "luck" or just statistics? I mean, out of millions of waitresses in the U.S. at the moment, isn't it just statistically probable that a couple of them would receive large tips from wealthy, and appreciative, patrons?

Same with the lottery. It's not luck imo that someone wins it, it's just statistics.

Scott Merrow (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 10:03 PM

Dan and Hassan: Yes, that waitress was truly lucky, but we only recognized it as good luck after the fact. In retrospect.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/6/2012 10:20 PM

@Scott

Very true!

Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 4/6/2012 10:22 PM

@Scott
"...only recognized it as good luck after the fact. In retrospect."

Well, yeah. That seems kind of obvious. I don't see why I'd ever call someone lucky unless something lucky had already happened to him or her. (Or unlucky either.) Maybe I missed your point?

@Hassan
The lottery is statistics, but (unless it's rigged) you're still lucky when you win. I'd probably have to put a waitress, in a small-town diner who gets left a wooden box with $12,000 of rolled up bills in it, in a different category then a winning lottery ticket. As far as I know, small-town waitresses can't buy chances to win a $12,000 tip, in a wooden box.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 4/7/2012 2:30 AM

"So luck definitely exists, but I wouldn't depend on it."

There is a case to be made to depend only on luck.

I believe the really big breaks are often luck. Like the writer of Harry Potter becoming a billionaire. There are many good hard-working writers but she accidentally stumbled on to something that became big. That is probably not why she was doing it. She probably enjoyed the process (the joy usually shows through the work in a positive way).

(And when push came to shove she was probably smart enough to hire good lawyers and agents.)

Like I said in another post, make sure you enjoy doing what you do. That is a sweet life, a nice worst-case scenario. If luck strikes and you make it big then all the better, if not, you didn't waste a life imo.

People who consciously go for success seem to follow the herd, going through the same motions as others who were lucky in the past, in the hopes of also becoming lucky.

"Luck favors the prepared"

Sounds nice, but a case can also be made for "Luck favors the original". If you look at recent successes in any field, you'll notice they are from people who are trying to do something differently.

Also, they were "prepared" because they put so much time into it because -- drummroll -- they enjoyed doing it, more often than not. The key isn't that they were prepared per se but that they were prepared because they enjoyed doing it. And THEN luck struck.

It is a safe bet to say that Louis Pasteur enjoyed being a scientist. It wasn't "hard practice, force yourself to do it every day and then one day you will become rich" for him.

Be original and maybe luck will strike. And if not, no biggie.

For the love of god, have fun already!

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5) ~ 4/7/2012 7:10 AM

Chris Keaton shared this on FaceBook, tremendous tremendous advice from Ray Bradbury, seemed relevant:

exp.lore.com/post/20464014771/what-youve-gotta-do-from-this-point-forward-is .

Scott Merrow (Level 5) ~ 4/7/2012 7:40 AM

@Dan: No real point, just an observation.

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 4/7/2012 10:35 PM

"Like the writer of Harry Potter becoming a billionaire. There are many good hard-working writers but she accidentally stumbled on to something that became big."

If I remember JK Rowling's story correctly, she was on a train or bus when the inspiration hit her. She wrote furiously to get her idea about a boy wizard on paper before she lost it.
Her story was rejected many, many times until a reader for a literary agent (small company, I believe) read it, loved it, and passed it along because it was different. (I watched the interview with this reader and it's terrific inspiration for writers to keep trying.)

I love Rowling's story too because she was well over thirty when she became successful.

Is it luck that this one reader found it riveting and insisted her boss read it? Or, was JK Rowling tenacious? I think the cream rises to the top.

After numerous rejections, all it took was one...

Graham Trelfer (Level 4) ~ 4/8/2012 8:12 AM

Let's put it this way, a producer is unlikely to luckily breakdown outside your house, luckily notice the screenplay laying under the couch that you never show anyone and luckily it is just the thing she has been looking for. However you may go to loads of networkig events, send your script to dozens of people and luckily it lands on the desk of someone at the right time or you bump into someone who knows someone who knows someone...

Basically there is luck around, but you have to create opportunities for luck to happen. There is also a lot of bad luck, maybe the script reader is in a bad mood the day he reads your script, or similar idea has just been greenlit etc...

With the Harry Potter example, the publisher may feel lucky that they saw the book before someone else, or indeed that the publisher's daughter was lucky enough to read it and enjoyed it enough to persuade her dad it should be published.

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 4/8/2012 4:42 PM

I had a stroke of what I call luck, recently. I had a script on Triggerstreet.com for years. Someone in an L.A. production office read it, and loved it. They encouraged their bosses to take a look at it. They did, and they optioned the feature script from me. If it all pans out as I hope it will, it will be a big boost to my career as a writer.

If I had not put the script up there, then none of this would have happened. Luck is great, but hard work and getting your scripts out where they can be seen is also a really great thing to do.

It only takes one person to see your story and want it. And it doesn't hurt to have it out there working for you.

Hassan Saddiq (Level 1) ~ 4/8/2012 4:51 PM

"Chris Keaton shared this on FaceBook, tremendous tremendous advice from Ray Bradbury, seemed relevant:

exp.lore.com/post/20464014771/what-youve-gotta-do-from-this-point-forward-is ."


Just watched it, very inspiring talk! He has a joyful spirit

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 4/8/2012 5:58 PM

"It only takes one person to see your story and want it."
My point exactly.

It takes patience too. Don't give up. Really hard when you're young and trying to establish yourself.

@Sally --
That's great news. The cream does rise to the top. Fingers crossed for you too. :)
(I read for Triggerstreet for a while, before I found MP, and was impressed by the quality of writing. Takes more time to read and review full-length features.)

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 4/8/2012 7:11 PM

Thanks KP. I'm excited to see where it goes. I did TS for years, but you are right, it really is much harder to review full length features. Glad I came over to MP, but ever grateful to TS right now.


"It takes patience too. Don't give up. Really hard when you're young and trying to establish yourself."

IT IS REALLY HARD WHEN YOU'RE OLD TOO. HA HA.

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 4/8/2012 11:12 PM

"IT IS REALLY HARD WHEN YOU'RE OLD TOO. HA HA."

Don't I know it...
Some of you just have more guts.
Keep it up. I love living vicariously... :)