I got the opportunity to visit Coronado Island and watch as SEAL class 288 was doing their boat crew exercises. Watching them learn to maneuver as a team, hauling those heavy boats up and over the rocks over and over again, I felt exhausted. At the end of their training, the ones that are left, would be a well-oiled machine, operating as one unit. But yesterday, it was obvious to all of us onlookers they were clearly not there yet.
The instructors will guide them with barks and threats of all night wet and sandys, force them through all the pain so they can become the best of the best. Those that can’t keep up with it, will drop. And there isn’t any shame in that. The rocks and rough surf and cold, sometimes oily water for their long swims, will sort those who can’t from those who can.
It takes a lot of training, and cold critiques and edits to make a good writer. Great writers are made from good writers that push themselves to endure the pain. Every time we invest our emotions in a good story, we also have to face the cold reality that to be successful, you can’t just be good enough. You have to be great.
There are lots of distractions that sometime get in the way of my productivity. I use self-imposed deadlines, and ask people to hold me accountable, declare myself and my intentions to “train” myself, since I don’t have a hunky 200-pound hardbody screaming at me. My rocks and cold waves are the things of ordinary life that get in the way, my obstacles. I don’t have to ring a bell to quit. Quitting would mean giving in to the “I don’t feel like it” place I could go to. But I do write something each and every day, without fail, even then.
I’ve met Team Guys who graduated from one class that started at just under 200, only to graduate less than 10. That kind of determination is what I was reminded of, watching those wonderful young men, going for the brass ring.
And I vowed I would be one of those 10 writers who made it. How about you? In your chosen field, do you have what it takes? Are you willing to overcome the barriers to stand with the best of the best?