Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Go for the Gold!



“We know that we’re competing in a dying sport.”

- Leshinda Demus


       I’ve been watching the Olympics nearly every night.  Sometimes I like the stories about specific athletes, while other times I just want to see the events.  But one story made a light bulb go off in my head.  I made a connection between Olympic hopefuls and writers. While few of us writers can boast the physical strength and killer-bodies (I want those abs) of these athletes, we do have a few things in common:


Inner-strength

Patience

No guarantees


         These athletes work most of their lives for the long shot of winning gold—or at least a bronze medal.  They put off normal jobs, salaries, and lives. 

        And what do they get if they win? How many wind up with small compensation and a shiny medal to admire?  They know the odds.  But many of them keep on going.

Isn’t that what’s in store for us? 

Competition is fierce.


We can toil for years and never “qualify” (unagented)*. 

We can qualify (agent), but not receive a medal (publishing contract).

There might be rumors of steroid use (bad reviews) or false starts (plagiarism).

We can receive a medal (publishing contract), but it’s only bronze (small advance, which we don’t make back).

Receiving a silver medal (midlist author) isn’t too shabby.

But receiving GOLD (big advance, which we make back, and appearing on the New York Times Bestseller List) is the ultimate achievement!


Then what?


Do they appear on CNN as commentators (radio/TV interviews)?

Do they get to be in commercials (film adaptation)?

Do their names get placed on products (character action figures)?

Do they compete in the next Olympics (second book)?

Do they coach future Olympian-hopefuls (teach creative writing at a local college)?



Bottom line: few talented people make a big living off their talent.



Here’s my Olympian example for hard work with no guarantee of payoff:


Leshinda Demus

This profile doesn’t tell you anything:



This is more revealing:



        When she was nine years old, she told her teacher she’d be in the Olympics someday.  She still holds the record for Hurdles at her high school.  She continued to run in college and won championships.

        Leshinda Demus qualified for the 2004 Olympics, but didn’t advance to the final.

        She got pregnant.  She was upset her pregnancy could derail her dream and guilty she felt derailed by her pregnancy. She had twins.  She struggled to lose 50 lbs. She didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics. 

          She’s made a comeback since then, winning more championships.  On 08/06, I watched Leshinda as her four-year-old twin boys cheered her on in the stands.

Leshinda Demus qualified...



What drives her?

Will she succeed on 08/08?

What will she do next?



Writers, what keeps you writing against all odds? 
Keep going for the gold.




* And let’s acknowledge those families who sacrificed everything for the Olympic Hopeful (packaged mac ‘n cheese or takeout, dirty laundry…)


58 comments:

  1. What keeps me going is love and faith in my art.
    Some Dark Romantic

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  2. Aww, nice post. I watch a ton of Olympics and love the "people" stories. Love the ones that include Moms!!

    I don't sacrifice everything, but I do work dang hard. And you know I wish you a ton of success - maybe even a gold!!
    erica

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  3. I write because I love it, I would do it even if I knew there would never be a medal because it soothes my soul. I think the best athletes would participate in their sport even if there was no reward. The game itself is enough. Great post.

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  4. So, so true! I love this comparison. I just have to remember to keep striving for the gold (or the bronze) no matter what.

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  5. Texas is way marked and it got marked by Marc.
    And then there's Chainel 5 and Chanes with Geologie and " Hure".
    And Rosen.
    Heintz is being tied to Risa and Caron.
    Which brings us to Angie and Brad and Sly - Depp.

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  6. Excellent post! I don't really have anything that keeps me going other than my desperate love for writing. I'm sure there should be a more complicated answer, but honestly, it's just what I love to do! :D

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  7. I wanted to cheer reading this post. It's a great reminder for patience and keeping our eye on the goal. Words I need quite a bit at the moment.

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  8. Great inspiring post Theresa. It's a reminder of the realities of trying to become a published author. There has to be a love of writing to keep it up. At least that's true for me.

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  9. She sounds totally fabulous - what an inspiration!!

    I've gotten to that age where I'd settle for qualifying in the heats! LOL!

    Take care
    x

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  10. I love her story. She doesn't give up and I admire that trait more than any other.

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  11. Terrific post. I heard her story on CNN and was so impressed and inspired by her willpower and motivation. Just goes to show us that no matter what our goal or circumstances, we can get there with hard work.

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  12. What a great comparison! I heard another comparison recently too, that these athletes must give it their all on their own. Yes, they have supportive family and amazing coaches, but only THEY can "get in the pool" so to speak. Great stuff, Theresa.

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  13. Faith and family keep me going. What an inspirational post. Thanks!

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  14. I love what I do and this is what keeps me going. And the hope one day I'll hit it big and Steven Spielberg will come knocking on my front door with a wheel barrel full of money.

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  15. Love this! I love watching the Olympics - so many inspiring stories and people. To vie to be in the top 3 in the world at anything is incredble! I'll be sad when it's over.

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  16. What a terrific story. Yes, passion is what drives all of us. Thankfully there are many levels of success for athletes and writers than just gold, silver and bronze.

    I love that her twins were watching and she didn't let a family derail her dreams. :)

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  17. For me to know one reader is enjoying my book is like wearing a gold medal! :)

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  18. Awesome post, T! I agree with you so much about how hard it is and how much there are similarities between Olympiads and writers. Maybe that's why we all tear up when they get so close and miss?

    And then dust themselves off and keep going. :o)

    Yes. Those abs~ <3

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  19. A very inspirational post. I like how you compared it to writing.

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  20. I'm not a writer or an athlete, although I do work out religiously, but what keeps me going at any hard task is that innate knowledge that somehow it's just the right thing to do. Very good comparisons here~

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  21. I try to watch the olympics whenever I can, too. What an awesome analogy, Theresa--and very inspiring. Let's all go for the gold!

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  22. You've got it girl! I'm not a writer but some day I will be...

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  23. I'm happy with silver!
    What drives me now are my fans. They expect big things and I don't want to let them down.

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  24. That's the great thing about writing, you can take just about any discipline and use it as an analogy. It's just seeing the similarities.

    I love the Olympic stories. I may buzz the competitions, but I stop and watch the backstories.

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  25. Wonderfully inspiring post! Oh, to make it to the gold, but just to get to bronze these days is awesome.

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  26. What keeps me going is my passion to write... I love telling tales. Loved your inspirational post.

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  27. A beautiful and inspiring post, Teresa. Everyone who made it to the Olympics brought golden smiles and a feeling of pride that so much was sacrificed for our country. There have been so many books/stories throughout the years that have slept on dusty shelves until Fate intervened. So, if not a medal for a writer now, perhaps down the road.

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  28. Great comparison. If you get those abs, can you share the secret with me? Okay, thanks.

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  29. Love this comparison. Thanks, Theresa!

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  30. Love this post, Thesesa. What keeps me going is the love of literature. Although I would love to "qualify and medal" I will always be a writer even if I don't... I'm sure most writers would say the same. Thanks!

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  31. I see lots of parallels between the Olympics and writing - the most important is determination and sacrifice.

    I love listening to the stories of the athletes - each and every one deserves their place representing their country.

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  32. Love your analogy! It's pretty funny when I think about it like that. Am I really chasing the vague hope to be a gold medalist some day? Or am I writing for the one reason that I just have to write with or without the gold?

    In the conference, Gary Schmidt said: somewhere there is a kid whose life will be changed because of your writing.

    That is the only gold medal I could ever want. As long as this kid's life is changed for the better, of course :)

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  33. I was able to see some Olympics. I like the athletes' stories. They're often very inspiring. We do what we do because something drives us, being in the competition is what it's about. Getting accolades is icing on the cake.

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  34. What a wonderful post! Very inspiring. Whatever leg of our journey, we must keep writing! Thanks, Theresa.

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  35. Great post, Theresa. I saw that story too. For me...I just have stories inside me that I have to share.

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  36. Nice. I love hearing those inspiring stories and the drive that people have to attain their goals.

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  37. Love this post, Theresa! So inspiring! I've been watching the Olympics every night as well. I'm loving it, but I'll be glad when it's over so I can finally get some sleep ;)

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  38. I've been seeing a few posts comparing writers and olympians. I didn't realize we had so much in common. I wish I had their abs in common :)

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  39. I haven't been watching the Olympics, but I catch the news later on. It is inspiring.

    I can't stop writing and as I grow and improve, I hope to reach bigger heights.

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  40. A lot of people have been complaining about how they Olympics is becoming less about the sports and more about the personal lives of the athletes, but I can't help it: I love learning about their lives. It's so inspirational.

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  41. That's a great analogy, Theresa. I love the idea of striving as if for a gold medal - and coming back to compete (second book). Wish I could pick up a sponsor/patron :-)

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  42. So true. Like the athletes at the Olympics, the best we can do is try to do our utmost best. Maybe it will be enough. Maybe it won't...

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  43. Everyone has a unique road to success with their talent. I love hearing the stories behind the journeys.

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  44. Hilary Melton-Butcher has left a new comment on your post "Go for the Gold!":

    Hi Theresa .. great thoughts - I can't remember how she did - but the Americans did quite well in athletics ...

    It's having the vision beyond that one goal .. so the what next is sorted ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  45. I've been watching the olympics almost every night too and was touched by her story. I like the comparisons you made between writers and athletes. We follow our dreams and hope for success that may or may not come, but we have to try because we love it and if we don't we'll never know. Sometimes the journey and the effort and the things we learn and achieve along the way make it worth it.

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  46. I enjoyed watching the Olympics also and thrill to watch the best of the best athletes compete. And I agree. I would like to have flat abs, too!

    Writers are very much like athletes. Perhaps we use our minds as much as they use their bodies. No. There is never assurance that I will get anywhere. But what else can I do. I was born to write, and write I will. A Great post, Theresa! ~Victoria Marie Lees

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  47. Theresa, I LOVE you short story in The Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Left Behind. Beautiful writing. It gave me chills. Congratulations!

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  48. Victoria Marie, thank you so much. Your compliment means a lot to me.

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  49. Great story and great comparison between Olympics and writing. Super job, Theresa!

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  50. I think that close up shot of the olympic gold medal is way cool! Wish they had some kind of olympics for writers. haha.

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  51. What a great post! It's so true! Thinking of the "gold" does keep me going, but also my love for writing, my writing friends, and my family.

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  52. Good comparison. It's definitely inspiring to read about an athlete who kept trying even though life events like pregnancy temporarily took her off course.
    What keeps me going is the fact that I enjoy writing, and it's a way for me to escape into a new and different world that I created. It's a way for me to take a break from reality and just focus on something that I want to do, rather than something that other people want me to do.

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  53. Well said, Theresa. Many of us definitely won't make the big time, but it's important to keep doing the best we can and still aim for the stars.

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  54. Such great points! I knew a girl with a similar story in swimming. After kids, she went back to win a silver and a gold in Australia. The world is full of unsung heroes--especially when it comes to good mothers. Thanks for sharing! I'm so happy to have a moment to comment on your blog. I've missed you!!!!

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