Good eveing all!
Just got home from my 13 year old daughter's cheer leading competition. Like all subjective sports, such as figure skating, gymnastics, and sewing (Oh please, if you saw me sew my 4-H projects in grade school you'd think of it as a physical sport, too.), cheer leading has its vast share of falling down and heartbreaks. (Who knew I missed a stitch on my gathered skirt? Well, the judge did....) So my duaghter's team, a small group of girls who have never been to competition before, except for my daughter, did quite well. Except for one thing: My daughter's flier (that's the girl they throw in the air) slipped out of my daughter's hands and fell. It didn't ruin the routine, the girls recovered quickly, but they placed sixth in a division of seven and there were a lot of tears in the back seat of our car on the way home because my daughter blames herself for dropping her flier.
Why do I share this? Because it's really just one little thing in the pantheon of our real lives, isn't it? A girl slips out of another girl's hands and they slip from possibly winning their division to placing sixth. The obivous thing is to blame it on the fall, but there are so many things that go into judging something subjective like cheerleading...or writing.
Writing is a subjective sport...I mean, business. Maybe you hit an editor at the right time with the right query letter. Or maybe you have the world's worst luck and every time you send in a query you get it to the desk of an editor or an agent at a very bad time. There's no obvious fall, nothing to point to and say, "That's why my book didn't get published."
Like any subjective business, it's easy to give up and say, "well, the judges are against me, the agents are against me, the editors are against me." But if that were the case, how many great stories from the realm of Olympic sports would we miss out on? how many gymnasts almost gave upbecause they fell down, but then didn't? How many figure skaters? How many other judged sports would be without their stars if their stars gave up after falling down?
With the Winter Olympics upon us this coming week, I'd like you to take a moment and watch some figure skating. Those athletes train for YEARS to get to this point. Those families sacrifice their homes, their time, their money to get their child to this point. And in a blink, in one moment, they can fall down and slip from a golden dream to a forgotten footnote, or worse yet, to a Saturday night Live comedy sketch as one unfortunate French girl did several years ago.
Falling down in a sport that is judged is accepted as part of the sport. You fall, you get up. This time you place sixth. Next year you place higher. It's part of the sport.
It should be part of you writing as well. This week you got rejected. Maybe next week your rejection letter will be nicer, maybe give you some pointers. Maybe next month you sell a book!
But you will never, ever know until you get up, dust off, and get back at it!
On that note, I should say that I'm so proud of our cheer girls tonight because maybe they placed sixth, but they broke through a barrier of massive proportions just being at that competition...and they get to bring home a trophy, the first of its kind at that school. It's not a first place trophy, just like that first sale probably won't be a New York times best seller, but it's a testament to their hard work, and to the start of something great.
Now, get to writing!