Saturday, April 19, 2008

For Those About To Give Up...

Meanwhile, in the NFL....

Coach: OK, guys. The first half was a little rough.

Player #1: Rough?!? We're getting creamed 78 to 3!

Coach: I understand that.

Player #2: The other team is killing us, coach! We're being humiliated!

Coach: I know. That's because they have a better owner, who spent more money on getting better players. It's hard to hear, but it's true. They also have a better coaching staff. It's all about the benjamins.

Player #3: So what do we do? How do we win?

Coach: We're not going to win. It's not within our power.

Player #1: Huh?

Coach: There's nothing any of us can do to win. It's up to the owner. He didn't come through with the cheddar, so we might as well give up.

Player #2: Isn't there anything we can do?

Coach: Nope.

Player #3: What about trying harder?

Coach: Won't work. We don't have the support of the owner. Without that influx of money and talent, we're all just spinning our wheels.

Player #1: But I'm a great player! I was on the all star team!

Player #2: I was a first round draft pick!

Player #3: I won awards!

Coach: It's not enough.

Player #2: What about heart? Effort?

Coach: None of that matters.

Player #1: This is a pretty shitty halftime speech, coach.

Coach: Why? it should be liberating. Once you know that you can't win, that success isn't possible, you can absolve yourself of blame.

Player #3: But we want to win.

Coach: Too bad. There's simply nothing you can do.

Player #2: We can refuse to give up. We can analyze what we've done before, and adjust our tactics. We can brainstorm new plans. We can keep trying our best.

Coach: Won't matter. You're doomed to fail. Only the owners can decide who wins. You don't have the power. Think of all the football players who play the game. Only a few are winners. We can't all be winners. You should accept that. In fact, if I were you, I wouldn't even finish this game. I know I'm not going back out there. What's the point?

Player #1: Well, when you put it that way, it sort of makes sense.

Player #3: Yeah. I mean, if we don't have any control anyway, why should we bother trying?

Coach: Now you're getting it. Forgive yourself this humiliating defeat. It isn't your fault. It's the owner's fault. Now who wants to go out and get ice cream?

Player #2: But we still have a game to finish!

Coach: There's no point. Nothing you do matters.

Player #2: But we can still try! We can still play our best!

Player #3: I'm getting Rocky Road.

Player #1: And a waffle cone. I love waffle cones.

Player #2: Guys! Come back! It's your names on the backs of those jerseys! This is your career! You're responsible for your success, not the owners! Guys...?

Announcer: Remember kids, success isn't up to you. Nothing you do to help your life matters, so you might as well give up now. Trying is for the ignorant. So just cross your fingers, and hope the money people get behind you.

This has been a public service message by PWUEIHW (People Who Use Excuses Instead of Hard Work.)


There will be people in life who tell you you're not going to make it.

And there will be times in life where you think your efforts are in vain.

Once you start making excuses rather than trying your best, you've lost.

You may not be able to guarantee the outcome.

But you can guarantee your best effort.

Now go get 'em, tiger.


ORION said...

yep. This is an awesome post!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, been there. More than once. And every word is true.
Writing fiction, expecting to be published, truly is a fool's game and any person in their right mind would spend their time enjoying life instead of self-imposed mental flagellation.
If only those characters inside our heads would stop telling us their tales....
Courage, ma brave, courage.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks. I needed that.

Anonymous said...

If I were casting this drama, I would be player 2 and my two best friends would be player 1 and player 3. Both have writing careers that are floundering, one is self-published and the other is in the small indies. They keep telling me "publishing is broken. It's too flawed. You really shouldn't be pursuing commercial publsihing..."

And I just want to go out there and play the second half!

Stacey Cochran said...

I think it's about being happy with where you are and with who you are. Someone is always going to have a "better" book deal or sell more books or get a better movie deal or get interviewed by Larry King or have his own TV show or whatever...

Too many of us, as aspiring writers, tear ourselves up over getting a major publishing contract, when it would probably be far more productive to spend more time realizing how good we have it and how far we've come.

The only person who can determine how happy you are... is you.


Anonymous said...

On the other hand, some people would probably be better off giving up. There comes a point at which the writing on the wall is so clear that even the most ambitious should probably quit. And there's no shame in that, as long as you've given it your best shot.

Swanny said...

We have very similar posts this weekend. I couldn't be creative enough to write a dialog about it, so I just posted a video.

Jude Hardin said...

I think sometimes we all feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football.

He tried and tried and tried.

For years.

Then, when we least expected it, when everyone who ever read Peanuts was sure he would fail miserably again, old Charlie Brown finally...

Wait a minute. He never did kick that goddamn football, did he.


Cyn Bagley said...

Thanks for the kick in the *ss. LOL


Steve MC said...

It's definitely true that you’re not doing anyone any good in putting your energy towards blaming others or the situation. Accept responsibility for what you can control and don’t hold onto an outcome to make or break your life or worth as a person.

As Tom Clancy put it, "What success really means, I think, is looking failure in the face and tossing the dice anyway. You may be the only person who ever knows how the dice come up, but in that knowledge you have something that millions of people will never have because they were afraid to try."

Anonymous said...

Player #1 and Player #3 don't realize getting the opportunity to play the game IS the reward.

Steve MC said...

Hey Jude,

You're right - Charlie Brown never did kick that football, but he kept trying, and that entertained millions for years. You can't call that a failure, and he shouldn't see himself as one. He just didn't get the outcome he wanted.

Wait, this just in from Wikipedia: When Charlie Brown was ill in the hospital in A Charlie Brown Celebration, Lucy promised she would never pull the football away again. She did not pull the football away when Charlie Brown tried to kick it after he got well, but he missed the football and kicked her arm.

And I bet he got a good deal of satisfaction out of that.

Anonymous said...

Um -- Charlie Brown was a loser, you know.

Be like Snoopy. He was the cool one.

Steve MC said...

I just dug up the Clancy article I got that quote from (Writer's Digest), and it plays in well with JA's post.

Clancy had no intention of writing a bestseller - he just wanted a book with his name on the cover. He published (with no agent or advance) with the United States Naval Institute Press, which had never published fiction. Then the book got passed to President Reagan, a reporter asked him what he was reading when he got off a plane, and Reagan held up the book and said, "It's a really good yarn."

Without that, Clancy would've remained known to only a few. But a total fluke of a remark and his book got launched into a bestseller. Clancy couldn't control that - he just got his book written and put it out there in the only way he knew how.

Clancy even credits his ignorance for his success: "If I'd known how hard it is to get a first novel published, I might have given up and done what my wife told me to do - sold some more insurance."

Travis Erwin said...

You forgot to mention those crooked refs who obviously were paid off by the other team. ;)

Joan Reeves said...

Excellent, Joe. I've always said if you can quit, then do so. Most writers I've known have been in it for the long haul. The ups and downs can erode your faith if you let it, but if you really want it then quitting is anathema to you.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Joe--I loved being reminded that I'm in the game to play because I love to write--not because of the outcome, or not totally because of the outcome.

Jude Hardin said...

In an interview, agent Nat Sobel told about how out of five hundred partials and full manuscripts read in a year, his agency signed only three new authors. Out of those three authors signed, only one actually sold.

Pretty discouraging stats.

I think everyone except me should give up now.

LA Burton said...

Joe great advice.

Picks by Pat said...

Great advice Joe. thanks for the boost.

But this is great advice not only for writing, but for life. I had a terrible day Friday at my job (not my writing job, the other one, which pays the bills). If I just remind myself that my boss doesn't control my future, that only I do, I can do anything.

Aimlesswriter said...

Needed this.
tanks joe.

Christine Fletcher said...

How is it you can read my mind? (puts on aluminum foil helmet)

Excellent post. Timely, too. Many thanks.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Great post! :)

Mary Duncan said...

Hey Joe,

Being as you are, born in the year of the dog, plus I'm a Taurus. There is little chance that I will EVER back down from anything I put my mind to. I WANT TO WRITE! And by shit luck, a good star, or with someone's gracious help (like Reagan for Clancy ... I could only wish!), I'm doing just that.

Writing. Hell, no, I'm not making any money at it ... yet, but following a passion is worth something. To me, anyway.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Joe.

Heck, I thought my stack of rejection letters was impressive. Then after I signed up with my agent, I found out that mine was one of five books she took on that year, out of 13,000 submissions.

Thirteen thousand.

Don't do the odds, folks, please. Just keep writing. And never give up.

Anonymous said...

Nat Sobel told about how out of five hundred partials and full manuscripts read in a year, his agency signed only three new authors. Out of those three authors signed, only one actually sold.

Pretty discouraging stats.
Even more discouraging--Florida writer Tim Dorsey (whose agent is Nat Sobel) wrote for two newspapers for a total of 16 years before landing a publishing deal. And he wanted to be a novelist early on, having written his first manuscript while still in college.

Anonymous said...

What some may not know is that even those of us "successfully" published can sometimes feel like this. Thanks for bucking us up too!

Anonymous said...

yup I don't even know you and I want to hug you. Bravo.

s.w. vaughn said...

Joe - I'm not going to make it.

Can I have some ice cream?

PokerBen said...

Great advice Joe! I always look forward to your posts.

Patricia Sargeant said...

Perfect timing, Joe. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This post doesn't work! The coach is way too persuasive and the best player 2 can come up with is 'that's my name on the jersey'?
How about:
"When you really want something all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it."
Or even:
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.”
Both quotes are by Coelho of course