We watched the football game yesterday and it was sad to see the season end for the ’49ers. They were the better team, IMHO. But then, I’ve been a fan ever since 1968 when I worked for them one summer between college years. I’d sit at a big oak desk, typing plays and assorted memos. All of a sudden, a football would hit the huge picture window right in front of the desk. The first time it happened, I jumped in my seat so high, I almost fell off the chair. And I looked out through the window at a pack of huge men, laughing, with their hands on their hips. Muddly, sweatty huge men. I was regretting I’d signed a “non-compete” clause in my employment contract, barring me from dating a single one of them. Right about that time my boyfriend became suddenly more attentive, even offering to drop me off and take me home at night.
The ’49ers had a good season. I’m sure hindsight will make them a better team next year. But the truth is, they did pretty darned good. It wasn’t a rout, they stayed strong, and like every army, they had a weakness or two that another team capitalized on. Heck, the opportunity was so huge almost everyone in the division could have capitalized on it.
I remember sitting endlessly on benches watching my two daughters play volleyball in high school and college. Watched my son play soccer all over the country. Truth is, when you play a good opponent, they make you work hard. You get better by playing tough teams. And good opponents also do something else: they make you look bad. That is just what a good team does.
So, the ’49ers made it almost to the end. Only game they didn’t make was the last one. They came in the top 4 of some pretty awesome teams, all with hopes and aspirations, and talent abundant. They have a rich, winning legacy to be proud of.
But yesterday wasn’t their day. It belonged to someone else.
I think about this when I think of my writing. Oh yes, I check my Amazon and Barnes and Noble standings daily. I have several close friends doing very well, and I check theirs too. I notice there’s a gap. And then I get out of those sites and write my story. My words.
Not everyone can write a best-selling novel. Not everyone gets discovered right away. Not everyone is a success right out of the chute. But thank God some are. I’ve begun to learn about long tails in sales, that it isn’t as important to be #1 or #200, except that it means you are making some serious money. You must be easy to start and hard to stop.
There are the one hit wonders. The authors who got a big contract and then froze on the 2nd book, or couldn’t sell the 2nd book. And there are those that think that everything good has already been written and why bother.
Playing the game is about winning and losing. We can’t all win, but we all want to. When you try, you put yourself and your work out there with the chance it will be rejected. Just like the ’49ers. No road to the Superbowl without risking losing. That’s the beauty of the game. Vince Lombardi said he never lost a game, just ran out of time. Had there been a different set of rules for the overtime, perhaps it would have turned out a different way. Had there been a true 5th quarter, who knows?
But they had a good run. And it will make it all the sweeter when they do get there. Because some day, they will. Just like writing. If we keep writing, we keep getting better and better. If we quit, we lose 100%.
I choose to take the chance. What about you?