The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that the universe is fair.
As a race, despite all our stupid prejudices, human beings believe in equality and justice.  They believe that if you work hard, you should be rewarded, that nice things should happen to nice people.
The universe doesn’t agree.
It sits out in space, this huge tentacle beast the size of a couple of galaxies, and it’s indifferent.  It doesn’t think “Ahh John has had a bad day, I’ll give him a break.”
The universe doesn’t care.
The universe is a bit of a dick really.

I found this out for myself nearly two years ago during the infamous Leggedon.  I was nursing a hole in my leg the size of a tea plate; I was trying to find the razor’s edge balance between resting the leg enough and making sure I kept it exercised; I was on more medication than I’d even had in my life, including drugs that meant I couldn’t eat hardly anything.
I’d like to say that at that point I was soldiering on (and I certainly tried to put on a confident face), but to be honest I was lost and scared, carried along by whatever doctors told me, feeling that I was just holding on by my fingernails.
And then my leg got a secondary infection and swelled to three times its normal size.
I lost it.  I mean, I’d spent three weeks doing exactly what the doctors had told me.  I was already in so much pain that I’d not been able to write, and Thieving King had structural problems that I had neither the concentration nor brain power to deal with.  I felt my writing career that I’d worked so hard for, slipping away.
And now, given that I’d already taken every known antibiotic known to man to try and kill the infection in my leg and it had still managed to return (and with a vengeance), I was faced with the very real prospect of losing the leg.
I felt that the universe had it in for me and had decided to throw everything it could in a three week period.
I knew the person I was.  I had strength of will but I certainly wasn’t a fighter.  In a superhero team-up, I was the person who stayed behind and did the lab analysis, not the person who donned the tights and cape.  I didn’t think myself weak, but I certainly wasn’t strong.
It sounds almost cliché but sitting there with my leg swelling up painfully against the bandages, I had an epiphany.  Everything boiled down to one of two choices.  I either sat there crying and gave up, or I got up and punched the universe sharply and squarely on the nose.
I’ll be honest, I thought I would do the former, but to my surprise I did the latter.  I looked at the insurmountable odds and said, “fuck you!”
I knew it would take years.  Nearly two years on, my leg is still bandaged, and my writing career is only just starting to climb out of the hole it disappeared down.  It’s been long and hard and I’ve been radically changed by the experience.  I dropped over 10 stone in weight as a result (well when you can’t eat anything for fear of it causing internal bleeding as happened a couple of times, you tend to drop a lot of excess pounds).
A year after that day, almost to the day, I was in Alabama doing probably the most scary thing in my life (inside a mile wide destructive tornado), staring the universe in the face once again.  We’d been caught in one of the worst tornado outbreaks of the year, and got caught by a roadblock.  I saw the tornado, saw the wind change direction as we got enveloped in the outer circulation and I knew exactly how deadly those things can be.
We were lucky.  Despite 110 – 135mph winds, our van didn’t flip.  None of us were hurt.  People die in lesser tornadoes.
If that experience showed me anything, it was the fact that the universe wasn’t out to get me, that my streak of bad luck wasn’t down to some ‘plan’ or capricious nature.  It was just the universe being indifferent to me.  It was the universe being a dick.
The thing is, you can’t beat the universe.  It’s huge and all powerful and you just don’t matter to it.  It’ll happily squish you… that’s if it even sees you.
But what you can do is punch it in the nose, make it go and pick on an easier target.  That means accepting that sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes they are totally unfair.  And when it happens, it all boils down to just two choices.  You surrender, let yourself get squished under the heel of the universe as it absently treads all over your life, or you deliver a sting, you stand up and you fight and you carry on.
And I know that the idea of fighting often feels like the last thing you want to do when you feel that the universe has kicked the crap out of you, but all that fighting means is a case of focusing on taking the next step. You’re not trying to complete the entire journey.
Life is tough and it’s sometimes so fucking utterly, utterly unfair.  Sometimes there’s nothing you can do and you wonder what you’ve done to deserve this.   You can complain to the universe all you like, but it’s never going to hear a single word.
You can, however, punch the universe in the nose and keep on going.