The author who sells a million copies of her first book, four of the second, wins a prize for the third and dies at the ceremony has had a checkered career: it's got bright spots and dark ones, like a checkerboard.

Checkered is a funny word; it can be used to describe the red and white pattern on a classic tablecloth or the up's and down's of someone's past. You could describe the flag that's waved at a Nascar event as checkered. And if the winning Nascar driver used to work at a car wash, you could say he has had a checkered career.

Definitions of checkered

adj patterned with alternating squares of color

checked, chequered
having patterns (especially colorful patterns)

adj marked by changeable fortune

“a checkered business career”
changeable, changeful
such that alteration is possible; having a marked tendency to change

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