Monday, February 25, 2013

Inspiration Monday: Lucky Day

Luck is one of those words that people throw around a lot, but when you sit someone down and ask them if they believe in luck, you'll get differing answers. Some people believe that there is no such thing as luck. Some people believe you make your own luck. Some people thank their lucky stars.

Star Buddy by Stacey
Most everyone knows someone who has bent his or her life in some small or large way for the sake of a good patch of luck. When I was a kid, I had an actual foot of an actual bunny attached to my cute little backpack because they were supposed to be lucky. It was the foot of a dead animal. A kind of animal I quite like, and one I would have been traumatized over had I seen one hobbling around missing its foot. But, because it was famously lucky and dyed an unnatural color, I didn't seem to have too much of a problem with it. Ah, the creepy innocence of youth.

Nowadays, I don't give too much thought about luck except in passing conversation. My beliefs about the ebb and flow of the universe have grown in complexity and devotion, and most major events and near misses in my life tend to get attributed in a spiritual direction rather than toward a severed animal foot.

That said, if I get a dose of good news right after finding a heads-up penny from my birth year, I will look a little closer at that penny and keep it around in my purse for a while (just for ambiance, you see. I'm not superstitious!)

However you fall on the issue of luck, there is no denying that it plays a big part in literature. If an author relies on it too much, the plot can seem contrived. No matter what heroics the main character pulls off, the reader has already checked out. They don't believe your big 80,000 word lie anymore because they've seen the seams. The illusion is broken.

Used judiciously, however, luck can give a little extra thrust to your pacing. A near miss is an exciting thing, and lucky objects make great MacGuffins. Characters can espouse all the same perspectives on luck as us boring flesh and blood folks. For instance, you could have a heart surgeon who always wears his or her lucky insoles when performing surgery on Tuesdays. This would be a man or woman of science, whose precision determines life and death in a very direct and literal way, who relies on worn out sneaker guts to function properly. Maybe you could have a compulsive gambler who will only bet against people on "lucky streaks" because he's psychologically profiled them to the point that he can predict their every move--and baits them into believing in those lucky streaks.

Put your lucky bamboo plant out on your desk, grab your lucky pen and your lucky notebook and write a story where luck plays a part, whether in the positive or negative sense. A lack of luck can be just as compelling as someone who just can't lose. A change of luck can compel a character toward new heights...or lows.

Grab some inspiration and see where it takes you. After all, it may be your lucky day. 

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