True Victory

There are many times when I wish life was more like the movies, where there’s almost always a happy ending.  I wish that I could know for sure that no matter how bleak things look, if I just keep on trying hard enough and don’t give up, that I will triumph in the end.  That I will have that moment of victory, usually accompanied by lots of applause and inspiring music.  Sadly, real life seldom works that way.

The truth is, sometimes my best just isn’t good enough.  I tried for years to become a commercially successful children’s book writer, but it never happened.  Instead of a shelf full of my published books, I have a file cabinet stuffed full of rejection letters.  I have taken aerobics classes, yoga classes, pilate classes, and spent hours on my exercise bike and walking around the neighborhood, but my chubby upper thighs are still with me.  (I strongly suspect that even if I starved to death, they would still be there.  They are that resilient.)

IMG_0411I head down to the local humane society three times a week to walk the shelter dogs, but no matter how many I walk, no matter how many frightened dogs I comfort, or how many rowdy dogs I work with to teach the most basic of manners, there are always more dogs that I don’t have time to help.  My husband and I work hard to take care of our house and my mother’s house, but no matter how much time and money we spend on them, there is always something else that needs to be done.

Real life rarely comes with a sense of closure, never mind triumph.  The older I get, the less I believe in the whole concept of winning.  I think I am one of the few people who approves of coaches giving the young children on their team a trophy at at the end of the season, just for being on the team.  Those trophies aren’t rewards for winning, but they do acknowledge the perseverance of showing up for every practice and game and always giving your best effort, even when you don’t win.  Which, if you think about it, is probably a better preparation for real life than playing on a team that wins every game.

The only thing I can ever offer is my best effort.  I don’t know whether or not my best effort is going to fix a situation or guarantee that I reach my goal, because the truth is that sometimes it will, and other times it won’t.  But I think the important thing is that I don’t get discouraged and quit trying, because that will guarantee that I never accomplish a thing, and I don’t want to live like that.  I want the courage to keep trying, the wisdom to change strategies when necessary, and the perseverance to never stop trying to make the little bit of the world that I touch a better place.

So I’ll keep writing, because I love to write and I’m not a happy person when I’m not writing.  I’ll get back on that exercise bike and head off to my yoga class because I’m a healthier person when I exercise, even if my chubby thighs insist on staying with me.  And I’ll keep heading down to the humane society to help shelter dogs, even with the terrible knowledge that I won’t be able to save them all.  Because I’m finally realizing that the real victory is not giving up.

27 thoughts on “True Victory

  1. Ann, you aren’t alone. Rejection is just a part of a writer’s life. But as tough as it is, I’m starting to view each rejection I receive with pride. It’s a tangible measure that I tried and it’s an opportunity for me to learn how I can improve. Keep on going with your children’s books. Sometimes, it’s just timing. But your work will never find its way into the right hands if you stop trying. Good luck!

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  2. There is an old saying about voting, “Politics belongs to those who show up” but I think that is equally true about everything. The world belongs to those who show up. Sometimes we feel that reward comes after we have done something, perhaps the best rewards come while we are doing it.

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    • I think so! I used to thing that the destination was what was important, but I’m beginning to realize that it’s the journey. And looking at it that way makes it a lot easier to keep going, and to pay attention to the good things we are able to accomplish, you know? Thanks for the comment!

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  3. I agree, it’s almost impossible to rid oneself of that conviction that life will prove fair in the end, things will somehow right themselves. It gets worse as you get older because there’s less and less time for the miracle to happen, if it’s going to! Maybe we are hard-wired with a delusion of justice and fairness, to fool us into surviving! As far as the writing goes, you seem to be able to write, and entertainingly too. Maybe if you tried heading off in a different direction? I have heard that children’s fiction is one of the hardest areas to break into. Maybe have a go at non-fiction, or some other fiction genre?

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    • Hmmm…I like the idea of the delusion of justice and fairness being what keeps us going! As for the writing, yes, I think the time has come to explore different avenues. The only children’s book I ever sold was for teenagers with low reading abilities, and that one went to an educational publisher. I did do feature stories for small, local magazines and newspapers, but didn’t enjoy it much. This blog was one attempt to strike out in a different direction, but I miss writing fiction. I might e-publish some old children’s novels, or try an adult novel. One way or another, I’ll keep plugging away! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. As your fellow volunteer at the shelter you are so right in saying Ann that the true victory is not giving up. It’s pretty hard at times not to throw in the towel. Not just there but in lots of situations. All we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep on going, no matter how hard it is. Plus the kisses and/or slobber that we receive from the dogs is priceless.
    Keep writing – I love reading what you have to say.

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    • Thanks, George! I think one of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of being true to myself. Or, as one of my favorite authors put it, “Standing in your own truth.” I know what I need to do, I just need to find the faith and strength to keep doing it! Thanks for your kind words….

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  5. Oh what can I say, Ann…..you write down our own thoughts, some days are pure frustrations, and then all it takes, is one 4 footer looking at you because your giving them that extra TLC and it all matters !!! We do what we can , the best we can, but most of all, we do it as a “team” !!! Thank you for being you !!! and bringing out the best in us….

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    • Thank you, Sherry! And thanks for you being you, too! You are the reason the rest of us can keep going. You give so much help to all of us, those who walk on two feet and those who walk on four….

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  6. You have my respect just for approaching publishers with your manuscripts. It takes a lot courage and effort to get that far. I’ve certainly never managed it. Anyway, it’s well-known that many, many great books were rejected numerous times before a publisher gave them a chance. As long as you enjoy writing, I say keep at it and best of luck to you!

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    • I took a class on writing for children from Patricia McKissack, who has published several good children’s books, and she gave me the courage to start submitting my work. Sadly, the only book I ever sold was for teenagers reading at the elementary level. I did have some interest from a few publishers, but never an actual contract. (Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!) But I love writing, so I’ll keep at it regardless! Thanks for your kind words.

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    • I’ve thought about how to link fiction to my blog, as I want to do more creative writing, but I haven’t quite figured out how to do it yet. The fiction I’ve already written is for middle grade children, which doesn’t fit with the theme of this blog. But I may create new, shorter stories and add them, although I’m not ready to do that…yet. Thanks for the suggestion, though. And I’m glad this post spoke to you!

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