Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympic Sports VS Writing...Let the Games Begin!

(I feel like I'm writing a series here). If you’re like me, you’re glued to the TV watching the Olympics (hosted right here in Canada, beautiful British Columbia). There have been some great moments, the opening ceremonies one of the most spectacular, and I’m sure there will be many more before the flame is extinguished and the athletes go home. I plan on watching as many of them as I can.

As a writer, I can’t help but make comparisons between the world class competitors and my own quest for gold. So, Writing versus Olympic Winter Sports: Let the Games Begin!

Winter sports require cold weather and, well, winter. I really don’t like winter. Writing, on the other hand, is done in my temperature-regulated house with no possibility of frostbite.

A point for writing!

Practice, practice, practice. Just like figure skaters, writers are often up early in the morning or awake well after normal people go to bed perfecting their craft. They know, just like athletes, that practice makes perfect. The bonus – a writer doesn’t land on her ‘axel’ unless she misjudges where the chair is, as she is about to sit at her desk.

Another point for writing!

Some winter sports are team events. Women’s hockey constitutes a group of women all playing together for a common goal (pun intended). There is teamwork, camaraderie, shoulders to cry on when the team loses, and backs to pat when they emerge victorious. Writing is a very lonely sport. There are, however, critique partners and writing friends whom will lend you a shoulder at the first sign of rejection. They will offer their services for reading first drafts, second drafts, and twentieth drafts. But unless you’re writing with a co-author, the quest is a solitary one.

A point for winter sports!

Writing is a scary venture. You need to have or develop a very thick skin for possible rejections, bad reviews, or poor sales. BUT, at no time whatsoever do you fly down a steep, ice crusted track face first on a slip of plastic known as a sled experiencing forces up to 5g. Oh, did I mention the sled has no steering or braking mechanism?

Two points for writing!

Endurance! Wow, cross-country ski and biathlon athletes are amazingly fit individuals. They race 10K, 30K, even 50K while co-ordinating long skis and equally long poles. Most times on icy conditions and sometimes with guns on their back which they remove and shoot at targets in-between skiing (the ability to slow the heart rate down to shoot a gun, let alone hit a target astounds me). But writers can face years of lonely solitude writing a novel, then revising a novel and always pushing forward in the quest for the finish line (publication). This endurance may not require an athlete’s heart, but the heart must be strong and resilient.

A point to each!

Run, jump in and go – bobsled racing doesn’t really have a lot of rules or strategy (please, if you’re a bobsledder, don’t send me hate mail – there probably is tons of strategy to the sport, but from my perch on the couch…). Writing has rules. Publishing has rules. And if you’re going to be a writer, then you better have an imagination. There’s a lot more work than running to your computer, jumping into your chair, and typing.

A point for winter sports!

If you take up a winter sport, you will learn very quickly if you have what it takes to get to the top. The speed skating event is filled with top-notch athletes all vying for gold – athletes who are the cream of the crop. Writers keep writing. There is no filtering system to inform you early on whether or not you should quit your day job or start searching for a sponsor. It could take you your entire life (if you are persistent and relentless) to figure out whether or not you have what it takes. Boys and girls who take up speed skating will know within a few years whether or not they have what it takes to make it to the Olympics.

Another point for winter sports!

And there’s the buzzer. Looks like writing has squeaked out a win at 5 points to Olympic Winter Sports’ 4 points. That was a close one.

I figure even if winter sports had come out the winner, I am and will forever be a writer. As mentioned, I don’t like winter. And I am not a sporty person at all. And even though I gave a point to winter sports for having rules and no strategy (again, no hate mail), therefore making it less taxing on the brain, I wouldn’t trade my imagination in for the world. I love the characters that come and whisper in my ear, demanding their story be told. I love plotting out a mystery or creating a scene that will bring my hero and heroine together (or make them so mad, there doesn’t seem to be a chance for happily ever after). And I love making up stories to entertain myself and others.

So, People of Blogland, are you a writer or a sportsman? What’s your favorite Winter Olympic Sport? What’s your favorite part of the writing process? And I have to ask – is there any way in you-know-where you’d go down a frosty track, face first, on a piece of plastic? I think you already know my answer to that question!

Janet (Go, Canada, Go)


Lu said...

First of all, lets hear it for the Canadian men's hockey team! That was a real heart-stopper, eh? And our boy from NS scored the winner! Woo Hoo!!!!

Ahem ... okay ... I wouldn't trade sitting in my cozy nook and having fun with my characters for anything. Especially not flying down an icy track on sled or skis. And while I enjoy a leisurely cross-country trek through snowy, peaceful woods, I think the whole thing would be spoiled if it was a race. And you can just forget about shooting at a target the size of a quarter. Good heavens, what if I hit a spectator?

Janet said...

Hey, Lu! That was a nail-bitter, for sure. Thank goodness for Crosby - and, of course, our wonderful goalie, Brodeur!

LOL - shooting spectators :) Yes, the whole sporting thing really doesn't appeal to me - winter or summer. I'm more of the couch potato athlete - but I do like to walk. Unfortunately, my walking would be a snail's pace compared to the professional walkers who compete in races.

Silver James said...

Will I be tarred and feathered if I say I haven't watched any of the Olympics? I don't really watch the summer games, either--not since they took Softball out. But pitcher/catcher started in major league baseball. That's a good thing! *ducks*

All kidding aside, the athletes are amazingly dedicated. They work against all odds to get a slot hundreds are competing for. ... Wait...that sounds like writing, too, doesn't it? Ten points to each!

Karyn Good said...

I LOVE watching the Olympics. I'm so inspired by all the athletes and their dedication and committment. It makes me want to work harder (when my eyes are glued to the TV).

How about Slovenia's Petra Majdic who won a bronze medal in the women's cross country sprint final with four broken ribs and a punctured lung. The biggest injury you can get writing is a paper cut! 1 point for writing!

But getting to hear your national athem! 1 point for sports.

And no kidding, between the men's hockey and the men's figure skating long program last night there was no synopsis writing happening here.

Go Canada Go

Anita Mae Draper said...

I'm behind Lu 100% percent. I'd give her a medal for her comment. :)

Silver's calling for the tar and feathers, Janet! I'm sure we have some left from that last time, don't we?

Karyn - Four broken ribs and a punctured lung? Really? Yowza! I was in agony for 3 wks just from bruised ribs. And I have a high tolerance of pain.

Janet, I'll take my office olympics anytime. I do remember once in the early 80's when - in a moment of dreaming - I was spinning around in my office chair with one arm above my head and the other curved around in the direction of my spin... my legs were bent and tucked under my chair so they didn't drag on the floor or get caught between the wheels... and when I slowed down and opened my eyes, my Sgt was leaning against the doorway with an odd look on his face. Uh oh. But all he did was shake his head and walk away. I guess I wasn't his most professional soldier back then. LOL

Jana Richards said...

Would I race face-first down an icy track at 150 km on a piece of plastic? Hell no! Are you nuts? Are they nuts?

I'm watching as much as I can without neglecting all household/writing/work duties. I'm no athlete either (seems to be theme among writers). I used to do a little curling but the best part for me was having a beer in the lounge after the game.

I've gotten a big kick watching snowboarding. It looks like a lot of fun. And of course we won two medals in snowboard cross which is described as "snowboard meets Nascar". But don't forget that our girl Maelle (great name, eh?)knocked herself unconscious at the Turin games in 2006. These sports are dangerous. Like Karyn said, thankfully the worst injury we can get is a paper cut.

Go Canada Go!

Erika said...

Excellent post Janet.

While I have not been watching much of the Olympics (see my post for the day), I do love the Winter Olympics. I'm a big fan of figure skating both couples and singles. I took ice skating lessons as a child and I LOVED it. I was good, but I wasn't great, Olympic gold was never in my future. There are days when I feel that way about being a writer too. I figure I'm good. I have an imagination and I believe I have the skills, but I wonder if I'll ever be great. If there will ever be the Olympic gold aka the published manuscript in my future. I struggle through, I push my questions to the back of my mind and try to move forward.

Janet said...

Ten points indeed, Silver. Anyone wanting to be the best usually competes with hundreds of others for top spots. Writers and athletes alike.

And, yes, I believe Anita's found the tar and feathers. So, be prepared - not watching the Olympics, geesh ;)

Good to see you back on The Prairies - glad you had a lovely vacation.

Janet said...

Just realized I'm signed in with my Google Account, not my blogger account. I have way too many accounts!

Hey, Karyn - I wanted so much to include Petra Madjic's story in my blog post, but couldn't get my brain to weave it in. What an amazing story - I watched the whole thing and everytime she got back into a follow-up race I wondered how on earth she could do it. I would have been out after my first fall down the embankment - she has some determination.

Great suggestions for the battle between Olympic Sports and Writing. Thanks for including them :) Now, get that synopsis done (says me who's behind, too).

Janet said...

Great story, Anita - and, yes, even us writers can have 'sporty' moments.

BTW - I love spinning in my chair :)

Janet said...

We watched the snow board cross, too, Jana. Wow, some excitement. We were cheering and yelling - and all the time I kept thinking these kids are nuts. Not so great going down the hill at superfast speeds, but then they go down in groups of four after they've qualified. Crazy!

Yes, between the Olympics, the housework, the Day Job, and laundry - writing is getting the very short end of the time stick these days. Maybe March will be better, eh?

Janet said...

Erika - your comments are so insightful. I think we all question our ability as writers, and that elusive gold medal (published) seems like such pie in the sky. But, you're right - we need to ignore the doubt and push through. I'm sure that Petra Majdic had doubts skiing in serious pain, but she put it aside until after she had done what she had come to do.

Persistance and determination - for athletes and writers - will make dreams come true ;)

Good to see you here, Erika - we've missed you :)