A Few Left Turns... and I'm in Japan

Thursday, August 13, 2020

I hate sports. I despise ‘em. I have no interest in car races. They bore me to tears. However, I love Hoosiers. I love Million Dollar Baby. I love Seabiscuit. I love Heart Like a Wheel (that is an oldie but a goodie). I love Ford v Ferrari (which I just saw a couple of weeks ago).

The common denominator in all those movies? The underdog. A broken-down coach/girl/horse. A female driver in an all-male arena. A couple of rough-edged racers up against a sleek Italian car company.

And man, do I love the underdog.

In my will-it-be-forever-a-WIP-and-never-a-book-? manuscript, the centerpiece is an underdog. A 12-year-old young man who’s fighting for his life.

Here’s where the left turn comes up.

Image by Pixabay 

In writing this post, I read some articles and posts on underdogs, and I thought about some of the iconic (in my eyes) underdogs. Jim Braddock. The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Gandhi. Rocky Balboa. (Okay, I realize that Rocky is a fictional character, but did you know that Sylvester Stallone wrote the script for the original Rocky movie himself--in three and a half days? You may not consider him a stellar thespian--maybe you do--but do you think of Stallone as a writer? A writer who could churn out a movie script in under a week? The movie was the highest-grossing movie of the year, was nominated for 10 Oscars--one of them for writing--and won 3. That is its own little underdog story.)

Then the question came up: Do underdogs always have to win in order for the reader/viewer to be satisfied?

Put your left-turn blinker on again. We're two-thirds through a u-turn.

I watched a short mostly-animated movie on a real-life Japanese race horse (Haru Urara). Certain I would ditch it even before the 18 minutes elapsed, I was surprised. I was riveted until the very end… and it got me thinking.

Writers who do their best, writers who keep writing and submitting--even if they never get a book published… are they still considered winners?

Put your left turn blinker on for the last time. We’re finishing up our u-turn, but we're ending up in a different spot than where we began.

Curious about Haru Urara, I read an article that touched on the Japanese spirit. In Japan, the form/effort/simple beauty of something is more valued than the outcome/cost. A tied game, where each team does their best, is the most perfect conclusion. Neither team is embarrassed or ashamed. Each team is a winner. The author of the article, Richard R. Gross, wrote “At gift-giving time twice a year in Japan, the perfection of the lace pattern on a melon is more prized than even the fruit itself.”

So, this might be a bit early to call it, and it might seem like a version of the sour grapes story… You know, this will never happen (getting my manuscript published), but that’s okay, I feel good because I put up a valiant effort for a long time, but I do wonder.

Here’s the stop sign. Or at least the yield sign.

Maybe it’s okay to ultimately not win the golden prize (a published novel). Maybe I can think of myself as a winner despite the fact that my manuscript might collect dust forever.

We’ll see…

How about you? What makes you feel like a winner? For you, is it reaching the destination… or the journey itself?

 Sioux Roslawski is a middle-school ELA teacher who is going to simultaneously teach in-person and remotely. (Her lessons will be streamed to those students who are learning from home.) Since she will have both a mask and a face shield on, much of her facial "communication" will be obscured. The photo to the right is getting enlarged, and will be glued to a paint stick, so when a student begins to share a writing piece with the words, "I don't think this is any good..." or they insist, "I can't write poetry," I will show what my face is doing under the mask. There is another one--which will be the other side of the sign--with my mouth gaping, so when there is an OMG moment--when a student has written something that is amazing, I'll hold that one up. (And no, probably much to your surprise, my hair does not usually look like this... I thought it would a funnier sign if I took the photo as I flaunted my bed-head hair.)


Jeanine DeHoney said...

Sioux, I think we writers are all winners because of the love, blood, sweat, and tears, we infuse in our writing. Also, I know your golden prize of a published novel will come to fruition so you can have a golden celebration, so don't give up on pursuing publication.

Linda O'Connell said...

Never say never, not ever! I thought a piece was beyond salvage, had been in the dust pile for years and was amazed when an editor asked to see it. Years ago, but it does happen. I believe every single thing in life is about timing.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Hmmm...I wonder if sometimes the journey IS the destination?

And that face? To be a fly on the wall in your classroom, Sioux...:-)

Sioux Roslawski said...

Jeanine--Thanks. I sure hope you're right.

Linda--In the case of writing, perhaps instead of "Location, location, location," it IS "Timing, timing, timing."

Cathy--You might remember the great Harry Chapin, who in the song "Taxi" sang "It's the goin'--not the gettin' there--that's good. And yeah. That face. If you were a fly, you might end up having a nightmare. ;)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Oh, that expression! Love it. And I adore the idea of "face on a stick." I think that's something you could market right now.

Writers have so many opportunities to be winners. When we master a new technique. When we draft something new. When we finalize a rewrite. When we send something in. When it is accepted.

And when we find a post like this that speaks to us!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--Thanks. My Sioux-on-a-stick is the opposite of the original Cathy-on--stick. Mine will cause nightmares. Cathy's image on a stick is a thing of beauty. Lovely face. Perfectly coiffed hair. A beacon of a smile.

I gotta work with what I have. ;)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Do work with what you have - dedication and determination and a delicious sense of humor!

Renee Roberson said...

I have to say for me I'm all about the destination, because the journey has always been so freaking hard! I thrive on results, something I can see tangibly, even if that is only a completed manuscript. I read somewhere that "if you have written a book, you are a writer." Damn straight! Also, my all-time favorite underdog movie is "McFarland USA," with Kevin Costner. I cry like a baby at the end every time!

So Sioux, you are a writer. One that has been published multiple times, at that. You just have to find the right agent/editor/publishing house. Your time will come.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Hahaha! I'd love to see your enlarged photos on a stick! Hilarious, Sioux. :)

I agree with the Japanese, and not because I'm Asian. ;) The journey is most satisfying to the soul, and the rest--publication, readings, marketing--is the nerve wracking part! I also hate writing sometimes, yet love having written. It can be a wild ride, but you must love the entire journey to be a career writer. I feel like a "winner" when I'm struggling on a piece and finally break through and figure out the best way to tell it; and when I actually love what I've written. I hope you feel the same because you've written way more than I have and accomplished so much! :)

Pat Wahler said...

I think it must boil down to loving the process of writing. If we tie our work to publication, fame, or fortune, most of us are pretty much doomed, LOL.

First find satisfaction in writing, and in due time perhaps the rest will take care of itself.

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