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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lessons from the Olympics by Monica Stoner

            I was NOT going to get involved in the Olympics this year.  Especially not in the preliminaries.  I have far too much to do, my preferred sport is not going to be well televised if at all, it can be such a time thief. Yadda Yadda Yadda.  Besides, it’s all the same every time, isn’t it? Lots of young people running and swimming and bouncing around.  Nothing new.

            Okay, I admit I’ve been grumpy lately.  Life has thrown lemons at a frightening rate this last year and I’m not adjusting as fast as I think I should.  Heck, I get weepy at those coffee commercials, the last thing I need is to get sucked into watching someone’s dreams go up in smoke because they’re one one-hundredths of a second too slow, or because their balance was marginally off and they missed a grip on the uneven bars.

            But still.

            I use the television for news, weather, and occasional background noises.  I prefer Food Network but there’s only so many times I can watch Battle Sauerkraut, or even listen to it, so I do the channel flip, find something that seems marginally entertaining.  That ends, and the Olympic Trials comes on.  Qualifying for the swim team.  Michael Phelps.  Yeah, I’m as much of a googly eyed fan girl as the next red blooded American Romance Writer about Michael.  You can have your gymnasts, your body builders...those swimmers are HOT.  Given the recent weather in New Mexico, I don’t dare mention water polo teams.  Doggonit, I just did.

            Ice water break.

            I’m back and cooled down enough to share the message I got from breaking down and watching the Olympic Trials. 

            These people are truly the best of the best of the best in their chosen sport.  They start with raw talent but that is never enough, so they train. For years. In good weather and bad, with or without the support of their fellow athletes.  When they’re not training, they’re conditioning.  Or they’re studying new ways to be just a bit better.  They miss parties, trips, all those social events their friends attend, to get themselves to peak condition for these competition.

            Their goal is to stand on the top step of that podium, hand over their heart, listening to their National Anthem being played to honor them.  Failure is not an option.  Unfortunately failure is a distinct possibility, and we see the falls, the slips, the bad starts.  But we also see the getting back up and onto the apparatus.  We see the extra surge of power to make up lost time or distance.  We see the indomitable spirit setting them apart from those who might have made the team if they had just tried a little harder.

            And here’s the lesson I’m actually writing for myself as much as to share with my fellow writers.  Many writers start off with an abundance of raw talent, and some of them do manage to produce and sell books.  At some point, the effort becomes a bit too much, and they start to mention how difficult to find an agent, an editor, someone to believe in them and buy their books.  Up to and including readers.  All too often they fall by the wayside, turning their innate talent to other endeavors. Because it’s just too hard.

            How much of ourselves do we invest in ourselves before we decide it’s just not worth the time, effort, money, loss of social life?  Do we seriously train to be not adequate, not good, but really GREAT writers?  Do we take the time to analyze writers we admire to understand the foundation of their work, and why they call to us?  Do we do the drills, the exercises, the mental conditioning to hone our ability to the highest level? 

            Or do we decide it’s all smoke, mirrors, and luck?

            Sure, there are stories of success without much effort.  But you look behind that mirror, and more than likely you’ll see the overnight success after only a few decades of effort.  No one gets chosen for an Olympic team through luck alone, and the same can be said for a successful writing career.  Luck is being in the right place at the right time with the right skills.

            Monica Stoner writes as Mona Karel, and blames her for any inappropriate comments concerning swimmers and water polo teams.  Find her on the webhttp://mona-karel.com/


Monica Stoner said...

Monica here--Mona's still asleep. Thanks for letting me hang out on the FF&P blog and share some of my ramblings.

Patty said...

Great post! :) I agree--it takes a lot of hard work to get published, and we're only as good as our last publication. Some might say I'm nuts for pouring myself heart and soul into a career that pays pennies hourly, but I like your position better. I'm pretty sure Olympians get paid pennies hourly, too... for the most part. ;)

Firetulip said...

Great post. the same can be said for all of the youngsters who are graduating each year from colleges and universities. With only a diploma in their hands and no experience in the work field under their belts they are often labelled as overeducated-inexperienced. Years ago you had people with 15-20 years of experience work in their professions and not looking for jobs, but in today economy they are out there competing for the few scarce jobs available. So who'll get hired? Experienced one or the young person straight out of school?
But the authors whose books are popular these days I have to admit, I never heard of before. And so far all of them disappointed.

Margaret Fieland said...

Great post. Yes, talent helps, but so do hard work and perseverance help more. We all start somewhere.

Jami Gray said...

Hey Monica (and Mona),
Great blog, but I too got sucked into the prelim trails (yep, swimming and gymnastics--must be a writer thing). How right you are, that as writers we sometimes lose sight of why we started this journey to begin with. Here's to seeing through the smoke and mirrors and keeping the real reasons front & center regardless of what gets thrown are way!

Monica Stoner said...

My first love being equestrian events I might be more initially enthusiastic if I could watch Dressage trials. Yeah, I know, for the rest of the world it's like watching gelatin harden!
When it's good, it's phenomenal.