Exploring those mysterious, underlying forces fueling a writing life

Posts tagged ‘Encouragement’

When Piggy Flies

 

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Today I attended a memorial service for a 17 year old who was taken unexpectedly.  I didn’t know her, but she and my daughter played for the same volleyball club and she wanted to be there to support her coaches and teammates. She was a person I had seen but never spoken to, a volleyball player that played for another team, a stranger.  

As writers we develop characters by giving them idiosyncrasies, goals, likes and dislikes, and flaws.  We make them memorable by their uniqueness. Today, I got to know a young woman with a “god awful” diet who favored McDonalds and 7-11 slurpies and some kind of peach sticky candy. They called her ‘Piggy’ because of her love of food and the chubby legs she had as a child. She shared a fondness for double-stuffed oreos with an unsuspecting uncle who opened his bag to discover she had eaten all the insides and left him only the cookie ends. I heard about her plans to attend college with her best friend and make the most of their time there, though not attend “any college parties”. Her competitiveness and “I’ve got this” attitude were mentioned by many, as much as they spoke of her generous spirit and contagious laughter. Can I get a “hoo-yah?”

She became real to me. She became one of the characters from stories who stay with us long after we have turned that last page. 

She was unique, memorable and inspirational. 

I have been stuck in survival mode for the past year for too many reasons and I have questioned whether I would ever be able to write again. But as I listened to the pastor talk of God’s plan and her friends and family speak of making the most of the time we have, I found myself feeling something I thought I had lost. Story ideas percolated and I felt compelled to pick up the pen again. I wanted to write.

I didn’t know her, but her gift for inspiring others continues beyond her short life.

Rest in eternal peace, Christine “Piggy” White.

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Permission to Fail

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 10.00.45 AMIt was not a pleasant Sunday afternoon. I spent the day at my daughter’s volleyball tournament. Watching them lose. Every. Single. Game.  The only upside was knowing we would be leaving early, getting home before dark.

Their first game they played the #1 team, a group of very talented and respectful players who won quickly in an “easy game”, according to one of the parents I overheard.

Humiliating. Embarrassing. Sad. Discouraging. All words that could describe that day for my daughter’s team.

They could also describe the struggle a writer friend of mine is currently having.  Embarrassed after having announced her book deal to the world, she now has to tell everyone it won’t happen.  Not because of anything she did. It fell through due to an unexpected merger of two publishing companies.

But if we define winning by only the games won or the books published, we miss out noticing the real victories.

I saw a losing team play as a TEAM. They didn’t turn on each other when one of them made a mistake. They patted each other’s backs, said its ok and returned to playing.   They worked together, encouraging each other. There was noticeable improvement from the first game to the last. One girl who barely moved in the first game to get to the ball was diving for them by the end of day. Instead of losing by several points in their last game, they scored 9 points in a row to come within one point of winning.

And when one of her teammates blocked a shot, aced a serve, or returned a volley when no one else thought they could, there was a celebration – hugs, cheers, and huge smiles. Real joy.

Despite all the points they scored, the girls on the #1 team never really smiled.  While they may have enjoyed their wins (who wouldn’t?); there was no joy on their faces. It was like they had no choice but to win. They didn’t have permission to fail.

It’s not the final score, not even the publishing contract, that we should focus on. Its the fact that despite the disappointment, the losses, the embarrassment, they keep trying.  My writer friend hasn’t given up. She has two other novels being considered by agents.  She’ll keep writing. And those girls, they won’t give up. They’ll practice. And one day they may win. Or they may not. They are still winners, regardless.

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