Monday, May 4, 2009

Longshots and Inspiration

I'm giving Fax and Benna the day off to tell a little tale about inspiration and enthusiasm. In this case, the source of my inspiration has nothing to do with has to do with my other love, Thoroughbreds.

Something truly amazing happened over the weekend and unless you've been in orbit you probably know what I'm talking about. A 50-1 "nobody" won the Kentucky Derby...and he won it by the second largest margin since 1946. The horse was from my home state of New Mexico (unheard of!) and trained by a small town trainer who personally drove his horse to Kentucky in a horse trailer. He was laughed at and ridiculed by many and his horse was pretty much overlooked by all the pre-race hype as an automatic also ran. But the "horse that didn't belong" proved not only did he belong, he was the better by far.

OK, so what does it have to do with me and my writing?

Let me back up a week. Last Monday, I received a letter in the mail. It was a bittersweet moment because we've decided to close our Thoroughbred breeding business and this letter contained the registration papers of the last foal of our last crop, a filly sired by a stallion named Bay Head King. Who is owned by Dr. Leonard Blach. Who is one of the co-owners of Mine That Bird. Yes, we know Mine That Bird's owner, and that's why this astounding story has hit us so very, very close to home.

OK, so what does this have to do with writing and SFR?

Here's the thing. Many said Mine That Bird was a "nobody from nowhere" who shouldn't have been on the same racetrack with other famous, million dollar horses. But the facts are that Mine That Bird had been preparing for this race from the beginning of his career. He won three stakes races in Canada and was named the Canadian 2YO champion male. But after that he'd run in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile and finished dead last, then lost two races in New Mexico. His record was disheartening, but his owners and trainer believed he had a shot. They believed their horse could win. They believed that sometimes the odds mean nothing.

And most of all, they believed you have to be in the race to win it.

And that's what his has to do with writing.

Sometimes the odds seem overwhelming against writers, too. You hear the 10,000-to-1 chance of getting a manuscript published. You hear the trials and tribulations of fellow writers. You may even, like me, be baffled and discouraged over a few "good writing, interesting story, no thanks" rejections. But you can't win the prize if you don't enter the race. If you know you've put in the prep work, if you know you've paid your dues, if you know your story is market ready and it's good enough to take on the "big guys," then enter it in that horserace.

You can't win if you aren't in the race. Take it from Mine That Bird.


  1. Thanks for the reminder, Laurie.

    I remember hearing a news story about an inspirational speaker who had cancer. One of his quotes that stuck with me went something like - anyone who really strives for something comes up against a wall at some point. The people who get what they want are the people who don't stop at the wall.

    I mangled it horribly, but you get the idea.

  2. Yeah, love that Sharon. So true. Was that Randy Pausch (Last Lecture), by any chance?

  3. That was the guy, and I found the real, much-better-than-my-mangled-version quote:

    "The brick walls are there for a reason. Right? The brick walls are not there to keep us out, the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough."

  4. LOVE that quote, Sharon. Somewhere I have Last Lecture recorded. I need to watch it again soon.


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