In the lead up to our annual RWNZ conference, I've got more work than I can poke a stick at to complete, but I'm still making time to watch what I can of the Olympics -- even though most of the time I end up watching the replays. And I gotta say, what touches me the most is the sheer delight and awe on a competitor's face when he or she stands on the dais and is presented with a bronze medal.
Yes, that's right. A bronze medal. For coming in third place.
Okay, okay. Granted it would be The Best Feeling Ever to have a gold placed around your neck. And on "the most unforgettable moment of my life" scale, doubtless silver is pretty darned awesome, too. But it's these bronze medal winners who have really made me sit up and take notice.
Well, I think it might have something to do with contests -- specifically, writing contests. If you've ever been courageous enough to enter one, then I'm sure you know how it is. We polish our chapters (and maybe the dreaded synopsis) until they're so shiny we have to squint to look at them. We pay our entry fee. We send off the entry and try to forget about it.... Until the date when the finalists are announced is upon us. And we wait anxiously for that all important email from the contest coordinator. (And try not to be too disappointed if we don't get one.)
If we're lucky enough to be chosen as a finalist, there's euphoria and fist-punching the air and maybe the popping of a champagne cork. We're on top of the world. Suddenly there's opportunities waiting in the wings and a heap of "what ifs?" to contemplate. And then it's back to waiting again. Only this time, we're chewing our fingernails, hoping....
And then the moment is upon us, and the placegetters are announced and we see that email in our inbox and... our entry came third. Cue deflation of those hopes and dreams. And sure enough, when the results are made public, the first placegetters--maybe even the second, too--got full manuscript requests from the agent/editor judges, but we missed out. And we can't help feeling disappointed, gutted. Sure, it's a third place, but what good has that done us? It's third place. Two other manuscripts were better than ours. Man, this sucks.
Sound even a teensy bit familiar? *wry grin*
But you know what? Those Olympic athletes representing their countries on the world stage don't think a bronze medal sucks. They're proud to bring home a bronze. They're not moping round, wondering why they weren't good enough to bring home a silver or gold. They're smiling. They're teary-eyed. They're so proud they want to burst. They're bloody thrilled to bits!
Case in point, the UK men's gymnastic team. If anyone had reason to be disappointed, it was them after being downgraded from silver to bronze after a protest questioning judges' scoring. But they were chuffed as heck. Delighted. Couldn't stop grinning.
And that kind of joy is something I want us all to get back.
So I'd like to go on record as stating:
1) If you are courageous enough to enter your work in a writing contest, you are a winner. It's no easy thing you've done--putting your work out there for others to judge. You deserve a medal!
2) If you final in a writing contest, you are a winner. It's no easy thing getting all your
And if you are lucky enough to place in the contest and it's a third, just remember those Olympic athletes bringing home the bronze. Be proud of your accomplishments. They're worth celebrating.