Did you notice the happiest people at the last Olympic Games? Besides the parents of the athletes, I mean. Winners of the Gold and the Bronze medals celebrated their victories. Winners of the Silver; not so much.
Judging by their facial expressions, I would guess although many of them felt proud and happy, others felt disappointed and angry at themselves for falling just short. I can identify. I was one of five finalists for a 2012 Derringer. I lost. My feelings were soothed because the story that won was exceptional. I don’t disagree with the voters. I also can’t say it didn’t sting a little bit to lose.
I decided I wanted to win the monthly Mysterious Photograph contest by Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. So I sent in a story every month for the better part of a year. I got an “honorable mention” months before I wore the judges down enough that I actually won the contest. I didn’t like the winning entry as much as I liked entries that didn’t get any mention. I don’t know if the stories were sub-par that one month I won or if the judges just had an off day. Either way I accepted the honor.
With my novel HEARTLAND, I was one of five finalists out of nearly 1,000 writers in 2010 Young Adult Discovery Contest sponsored by Gotham Writers Workshop. I received some excellent feedback from the judges and a call from agent, Regina Brooks. She was really helpful. With their help, I ended up with a much better book. I self-published it on Kindle and then it was picked up a small print publisher. I was tremendously pleased with the final result. And not winning was disappointing.
Although I’ve won a number of awards for my writing, I have won only one national contest. I plan to continue entering contests.
If I were to guess, I would say coming in second in the Olympics probably felt better after time passed. I doubt any athlete quit his or her sport because he or she finished in second place against the best competitors in the world. I don’t think anyone took his or her javelin or discus and went home to mope.
The best athletes have the ability to dismiss failure in the middle of a game from their memories and immediately focus on the next play or time at bat. Even at the end of a contest, exceptional athletes usually don’t dwell on a loss but try to learn from it for the future. The Olympic finals or championship games are, no doubt harder to slough off. But the most successful writers and athletes, like Timex watches, “Take a lickin’ and keep on tickin.”
Do you have a story of persistence?
p.s. I will be out of time when this runs. I will read the comments when I get home.