Is the feast more dangerous than the famine?

Remember the Bible story about Joseph being brought out of prison to interpret a disturbing dream for the Pharaoh? In case the King James version is too tame for Tuesday, here's the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber version:

The story is part of one of the Good Book's greatest adventures, but it's also a timeless reminder about the feast and famine of life, whether you're talking about money, love, family, or for our purposes, a writing career. To everything there's ebb and flow. When the house if full of kids, we know the time is coming when they'll (hopefully) leave, so we should be emotionally prepared for that. Lord knows marriage is cyclical, and we have to remember during the grinding times that as long as the baseline of love is maintained, the honeymoon will circle back around. For me, this natural wisdom (aka common sense) has been hardest to apply in my career. In the last several years, the modicum of success I've had has actually gotten me into more trouble than the lean times. Oddly enough, the year I made the most money, I was the least grateful. I wasn't as careful. I didn't work as hard. It took a couple of lean years to restore the fire to my belly.

Publishing is littered with one hit wonders, books whose galactic success stories are jealousy bait in the moment they're streaking across the sky, we don't see the little lump of burnout that plunks smoldering into the discount bin a year later. These aren't lousy writers who got lucky in most cases, these are good writers who momentarily got too lucky for their own good. I'm not saying that good luck is bad, I'm saying that it presents as many challenges as bad luck and its consequences can be equally disastrous.

On the flip side, the consequences of bad luck can be as much a blessing as good luck. An unfortunate turn of events invariably has something to teach us. My education in contract law hasn't been much fun, but what an education! I did not enjoy being unpublished (aka unemployed) for 21 months, but by the end of that time, I was reading and writing with a burning energy that I hope I never lose.

My sister Jas has a "Theory of 50" that hypothesizes we all get an average of 50 in life. Some get it by averaging a series of 49s and 51s, others with 100s and 0s. When she explained this theory to me when we were teenagers, she concluded, "You're in the upper 90s and count-on-one-hand category." For better or worse, this turned out to be true.

I seem to be on a feast trajectory right now, but I'm still feeling the famine of last year and trying hard to heed Joseph's wise advice...



The Broadway version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is available on Netflix.

Comments

mamele said…
wise words. too bad my retinas were seared by shirtless donny osmond.
Suzan Harden said…
Poor Donny! Doesn't get enough credit for his talent.

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