Thursday, December 22, 2011

What Does Racing & 'Riting Have In Common?

What does the horse racing world and writing have in common? know, those obstacles placed in the way as an attempt to either "level" the playing field or hold something back from achieving a higher goal.

I don't really follow horse races like the Triple Crown races anymore.  But I have been fascinated with one race horse for as long as I can remember.  Man O War.  Why, even the name seems as regal as the horse himself.  No one had any idea just what amazing feats this one horse could do when he was a foal.  That is, no one but the horse himself.  And once Man O War starting showing the world what he could do, everyone began putting handicaps in his way.   Despite all the handicaps,  this horse managed to win every single race during his career...except one...and that was the rider's fault, not "Big Red's".  His own owner refused to put this horse in the Kentucky Derby because he judged him to be "too young" for such a race.  And yet Man O War went on to win the other two races of the Triple Crown.  The HORSE knew what he was capable of, but his OWNER decided to throw a handicap in his way of superstardom.  Officials within the racing circuit would even add lead weights to his saddle...up to 30 pounds and more...just to try and slow him down because apparently he was "embarrassing" the other horses by being faster than them. 

Wait a minute...isn't that the point of horse racing?  To SEE who is the fastest?

Writing can be seen as  a sort of race as well.  A challenge for the individual to get to the finish line...whatever that may mean to that individual.  Maybe the goal is to write the next great ________ (fill in the blank with novel, play, song, get the idea) or maybe the goal is to be the family historian and capture those moments in a personal history before they are forgotten.

My goal is to become a great children's books author.  I don't mean "great" as in well-known, although I certainly wouldn't turn my back on I mean the BEST I can be without allowing handicaps to stand in my way.  I realized earlier this year that one of my MAJOR self-induced handicaps was the fact that I doubted my own writing ability.  That wall of "what ifs" held me back from embracing the love I have for writing.  What if no one likes what I write?  What if I fail at becoming a children's book author?  What if I succeed???  The many "what ifs" weighed me down until I simply stopped trying.  

This year I decided it was time to let go of the handicaps and do the thing I love to write.  To learn how to become better at this and allow others to participate in my journey should they decide to come along.  To take the critiques given with an open mind for all the lessons to be learned and to NOT see them as a "handicap" holding me back, but as an "incentive" to keep pushing me forward toward my own finish line.

So what is YOUR handicap?  That thing you have placed in front of you to slow down your own race?  Wouldn't it be more fun to enjoy the ride as Man O War did and leave the "handicaps" for other people to worry about?  Well done, Man O War, for not letting others tell you how GREAT you could become but just believing in your own ability...well done!


  1. I love horses and Man O' War too, so I like your analogy :) You're right - there are handicaps out there for writers. Some are imposed by the publishing world - more stories will get rejected than accepted. But many more are imposed by our own selves. Self doubt is a big one for me. But you just have to keep showing up and writing, and the more you write the better you get. And how wonderful that we have such a supportive and friendly community of writers to be a part of!

  2. My sister told me about Man O' War years ago. I loved the story. His story IS very much like a writer's. Keep on keeping on.

  3. Susanna, I don't imagine I would be feeling as confident as I do if I hadn't met such wonderful people here! And you are correct, the more I write, the more confident I feel and the less my self-doubt raises its ugly head1 ;0)

  4. Janet, you are so Susanna, we writers just need to keep showing up and on writing...we learn from the lessons along the way and we can't help but improve...

  5. I am continually impressed by the way you write about writing. Your analogies are spot on, and you develop your ideas so well. I can hardly wait to see what you produce in the field of children's literature!

  6. Thank you, Beth, you are too kind! Oh my...what pressure to produce a stellar piece of work worthy of your belief in my potential talent...;0)...maybe my strength will only lie in blogging? Lol...I certainly hope not! I read my revised Barnyard Christmas poem to my kids today and got a standing ovation...hahaha...I guess that counts for something!