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The Thrill of Victory & Agony of Defeat December 13, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Spirit & Ego, Writing & Writers.

200px-BedivereWatching the 2010 Winter Olympics last year got me  thinking ~ writers going for the gold have it EASY compared with Olympic Athletes.

We get to say, “Do Over!” 

If we submit a story and receive less than positive feedback, we get to rewrite it until it’s “right.”

If Olympic athletes stumble and fall while soaring over a mogul,  their dreams for a medal evaporate immediately.

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Alpine skiing


Injuries from rejection, no matter how painful, rarely keep us away from our keyboards.  

After a nasty spill, Olympic athletes may be sporting broken bones, lacerations, bumps,  bruises, or contusions which prevent them from training and competing for weeks on end.

In contrast, even after receiving an ego-bruising rejection, writers rarely sustain physical injuries which prevent us from returning to our keyboards to try again.

We do not have to share our rejection slips with others. 

When we receive a rejection slip from an editor, it is usually received and read in the privacy of our own homes, without a single stranger watching our private humiliation, pain, and dismay.

When an Olympic athlete crashes and burns, thousands in the stands, and millions over the airwaves, are witness to the debacle.

Imagine being asked to stand in the middle of The Pacific Coliseum, packed to the rafters with 14,200 spectators, to open and read . . . out loud . . . over the PA system . . . the contents of a potential rejection slip.

Makes handling rejection slips in the privacy of your home office feel pretty darn good, huh?

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Figure skating

Figure Skating

Our “slip ups” and typos are not front page news. 

When figure skaters  complete skating, they sit down, in a tidy row with their coaches, to wait for the judges’ scores.  As they wait, cameras remain trained on their faces, watching for any  flicker of emotion.

Sportscasters, filling air time, proceed to analyze the routine  by placing even the slightest bobble under the spotlight for micro-analysis.

Can you imagine receiving that type of scrutiny for an isolated typo or grammar error ~ without having the opportunity to go back and fix it?

Once the judges have spoken, the skaters’ scores are displayed in the stadium for 14,200 spectators, flashed over the airwaves for millions of at-home viewers, posted in Olympic score books, and established for all time.

No do overs.

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Alpine skiing


Writers rarely risk death and dismemberment in their efforts.

When we write a horrendous piece of trite tripe, we can delete it from our screens and no one will ever be the wiser.

When athletes maneuver down the luge course in a less than precise manner, they not only risk humiliation from a wipe out, they also risk death and dismemberment.

Lugers put their life on the line each time they race down the track, flat on their backs, at speeds in excess of 90 mph, on sleds which are not equipped with air bags, brakes, steering mechanisms, or any other safety feature.

While we sometimes feel as if we are beating our head against a brick wall when we write, lugers whistling down the 4,757-foot concrete track at the Whistler Sliding Centre literally risk slamming into brick walls and concrete pillars.

Starts putting things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Alpine skiing


No matter how many times our work gets rejected, we are  rarely, if ever, maimed or physically harmed in the process of submitting for publication.

We can take as many bites at the apple as we want ~ we can write, submit, and re-write the same article over and over again, until it is accepted for publication or we abandon our efforts on its behalf.

We can keep going for the gold until we tire of the chase.

Yes, writers seeking that elusive goal of publication, have it EASY.

For us, the thrill of victory may be every bit as sweet as that felt by athletes winning Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals . . . but the agony of defeat is rarely more serious than recovering from a slightly bruised ego or a particularly nasty paper cut.

Related post:  What to do When a Publisher Rejects Your Novel (Global Mysteries) * Fun with Numbers: Publication Odds * Stop Mocking Me!


1. Cindy - December 13, 2010

Hear hear!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

As I got this ready for posting last night, I kept thinking of Paula and the “boulder” she encountered in her path . . . which she maneuvered around by adopting Sonya. 🙂

2. Debra - December 13, 2010

Thank you…this makes me want to jump back into the arena with more enthusiasm !!! cheers!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Go for the gold! 🙂

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 13, 2010

Oh! So true, so true! As difficult as private humiliation (or even apropos humbling!) can be, nothing quite compares with the public variety. Every time I watch those types of sporting events, I am reminded of my juried voice exams, and my recitals. Smaller scale, I know, but that judging by your peers and faculty carries the great potential for humiliation!

It DOES make writing seem a bit less intense!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Even when, like you, we have to write with one hand tied behind our back.

Can you imagine trying to ski down an alpine track with only 3 limbs instead of 4? Yowsa! I’m sure that some could manage, but I expect that I would lose a 2nd limb in the attempt.

Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 13, 2010

Believe it or not, such things are done all the time! Witness the “Paralympics” each quadrennial! Always amazing!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Good Point.

I have been amazed and awed by just that. 🙂

4. M. Howalt - December 13, 2010

Aw, this was really sweet and uplifting!
Another point (maybe a little silly?) I’m just thinking of is that having a book rejected has probably never helped an athlete. But suffering from a sports injury may help you sit still and actually get something written.

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Yes! Excellent addition.

5. Julie - December 13, 2010

So true – and thanks for doling out perspective in healthy doses!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

How we relate to the issue . . . IS the issue.

Sometimes all we need is a shift in perspective.

6. Carol Ann Hoel - December 13, 2010

You’ve made a valid point! We may feel some chagrin, but we’ll get past it so much more readily than athletes competing in public view. Great post. Thank you for sharing…

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Thanks, Carol Ann.

The quicker we let go of “IT” . . . the quicker we reclaim our energy for what really matters ~ CREATING! 🙂

7. Maggie - December 13, 2010

This is one of the reasons I am a writer and not an athlete. Awesome post!

nrhatch - December 13, 2010

Thanks, Maggie.

I definitely like the “do overs” we get when we proofread and edit. 😉

8. jannatwrites - December 13, 2010

I loved the comparison between the Olympics and writing. I agree that writing is so much easier. If it was as difficult as the Olympics, I’d probably not even bother to try 🙂

nrhatch - December 14, 2010

When I play sports, it’s for the pleasure of moving my body around ~ not for any external recognition.

Same with playing with words. I write for the sheer pleasure of moving my thoughts around on paper.

If one day that leads to external rewards like a published novel . . . that’s the icing. 😉

9. kateshrewsday - December 14, 2010

Brilliant post, Nancy. I think the immediacy of the sports world has necessitated some of the best positive psychology that exists. I admire sports men and women so much for their resilience, and their ability to get up after a failure and gather their strength to try again.

nrhatch - December 14, 2010

I know!

The favorite for the Gold (who hits “black ice” and slides down the mountain face first) who shrugs it off and says, “Life happens.”

10. Tammy McLeod - December 14, 2010

Loved this Nancy and hoping that you’ll do a follow up on those writers that really have risked life and limb for their writing. Living with athletes my whole life, I really have to agree with Kate’s comment about positive psychology.

nrhatch - December 14, 2010

Aah, you mean writers who have been imprisoned for their words? Or tortured for perceived treason?

The First Amendment and Freedom of Speech certainly have paved the way for writers who have something to say.

Not sure that’s a topic that I’ll tackle any time soon, but thanks for the idea.

Athletes do train more than their bodies ~ they don’t give in to the “mind games” that sideline so many writers and “victims of life.”

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.

11. Sandra Bell Kirchman - August 24, 2011

Interesting way to look at writing. The worst I have done while writing is fall asleep at my computer and bang my nose on my keyboard. It smarted, but was in no way life threatening. 😉

nrhatch - August 24, 2011


Loved your post about living with rejection. 😀

12. Self-Publishing ~ Pros and Cons | Spirit Lights The Way - June 25, 2013

[…] Related posts:  Truths About Self-Publishing (Linda Cassidy Lewis) * Self-doubt, self-publishing, and other selfish writer-isms (Eric J. Baker) * One Year Later ~ Self-Publishing Review (Christine M. Grote) * How to Make an E-Book Using Open Office * The Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat! […]

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