Life is mostly a matter of getting the ball rolling. If you can get it moving in the right direction and keep it moving in that direction, eventually momentum takes over and you really don’t have to do much of anything. But let’s also be honest that some people have an easier time getting the ball over the hill. Some people start at the very bottom of that hill. And some start at the top. There’s not a lot we can do to change that, and if one is fortunate enough to have a head start in life, one shouldn’t feel guilty about it. On the other hand, you don’t have to be a jerk about it either.
If you’re born rich, you have certain advantages over people born poor. If you’re born white in America, success is easier to achieve than if you’re born a minority. And if you’re a man, you’re ahead of the game. Can we accept this truth? It doesn’t mean that rich white guys are all lazy schmucks who fell into their success. And it doesn’t mean that being a poor black woman makes it impossible to succeed. It just means that, despite what we would like to believe, we are not all created equal and we are not all blessed with the same opportunities or faced with the same obstacles.
This isn’t a political issue. Nor is it a liberal / conservative thing. It’s just a fact. A cold, hard fact. And this isn’t even getting into the differences between individuals. I was lucky enough to have a mother who was always there for me. I was lucky enough to stumble into a writer’s group that benefited me greatly with both moral support and professional guidance. And I was lucky enough that my first book received a featured review in Publisher’s Weekly and won an Alex award from the American Library Association.
Make no mistake. There’s a lot of luck in my success. I wrote a good book, but lots of people have written good books. Lots of people have even managed to get them published. And while I’m secure enough to say that I’m doing well, making a living, and able to have this as my full time job, I’m also smart enough to say there was a hell of a lot of good fortune along the way.
Success is a strange thing. To the successful, it just keeps coming. To the unsuccessful, it remains elusive.
To0 often, successful people attribute their success to some fantastic effort on their part, some incredible work ethic, some undeniable talent. That might be harmless except it makes it all too easy to look down on the unsuccessful, to see them as deserving of their failures. We are hard-wired to see our success as the inevitable result of our efforts and to see our failures as happenstance and bad luck. And we are hard-wired to see the exact opposite with every other human being out there.
Forgive the generalities. There are many exceptions.
This doesn’t mean that we should feel guilty for our successes or that we should consider ourselves destined to fail because we started out at a disadvantage. But it does mean that success is often the byproduct of success and failure leads to more failure. It’s just the way it is, and if you happen to be successful, you should remember that.
I remind myself of it. Every day.
And my success is due, more than anything, to many people who keep me aloft. From my agent to my editor, my publisher and my family and friends, and, yes, even you, my fine fans. Actually, especially you.
Thanks for all your support, everybody. I’ll try to stay worthy of it.