Last week I attended a fund raising event for a woman who has brain cancer. The event was held by an athletic organization with all proceeds going to this member of their community.
It was touching to see these extreme athletes--many of whom follow the same types of exercise that, as their website claims "many police academies and tactical operations teams,
military special operations units, champion martial artists,
and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide"--compete with intensity and joy.
To say that I was out of my element is understating the case.
I saw on a number of tee-shirts a phrase that went something like this:
"What do you prefer?
The pain of discipline
The pain of regret"
And I couldn't help but wish I could buy a bunch of these shirts and give them out to my writers.
It seems these athletes know what many writers do not:
that one must try. And with trying, comes failures. And after enough considered failures, comes bits and pieces of improvement. And that this improvement is not final and requires testing. That the testing sometimes comes in the form of competition. That competition is really between the competitor and herself/himself not other readers/editors/publishers. That competition leads to a certain kind of success. That there are many forms and levels of success. That success, ultimately, will arise from personal definition. That persistence, self-correcting focus and faith are elements, not only of success, but of a strong character. And this strong character is what will allow for the writing down of that which needs to get written in the best possible way with, as one poet has said, with "the best possible words."
And this is success.