Monday, October 4, 2010


Post by Jenny

I know the college football season has been going on for weeks now, but I’m never quite ready for it until October rolls around. On Saturday, a beautiful fall day in northern Colorado, my family and I went to watch my alma mater, Colorado State University, take on Texas Christian University.

CSU brought a 1-3 record and a true freshman quarterback to the table. TCU rolled into town 4-0, with a #5 national ranking. They were favored by 33 ½ points. We Ram fans had a real underdog situation on our hands. As I watched the pre-game warm-ups, I thought about how the Rams might have prepared to face the Horned Frogs. Physical conditioning? Check. Watching films? Check. Pep talks? Check. Good nutrition and plenty of sleep? I hope so.

Writers often find ourselves in underdog situations, too. Even before the economic downturn, breaking into the publishing biz was daunting. Now, it sometimes seems downright impossible. Not only might a writer be competing against the number one seeds (the Jodi Picoults and the John Grishams), but there are thousands of other writers doing the same. Maybe we should take some advice from a coach’s handbook:

Practice, practice—but be sure to take an occasional day off for some R & R.
Study the opposition, especially if they’re good at what they do.
Be realistic and optimistic. Yes, it’s a tough business, and yes, there’s still room to be hopeful.
Take good care. Healthy, rested bodies and brains perform better—on a field or at a desk.

And how about the luck factor? Anyone who watches football has seen a game decided by a pass that ricochets off a helmet or a fumble that bounces straight into the arms of a defender. But only the close games are decided by luck. To compete, a team has to know the fundamentals inside and out and work hard. The same applies to writers. I might be lucky enough to run into uber-agent Janet Reid at a ceviche-eating contest in Del Rio, Texas (hey, it could happen), but if so, I sure better have my game plan in place. As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Sadly, CSU did not pull off the upset. They lost 27-0. But the players will learn what they can from it and move on, which is good advice for all of us who occasionally crash and burn.

Which do you think is a better teacher—failure or success?


Anonymous said...

I definitely learn more from my mistakes. Not that I want to stop learning, but I would like to learn how to stop making so many of them! :)

Go Rammies!


Kerrie said...

I agree with mjohnston, I learn a lot more from my mistakes whether I like it or not.

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