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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Olympic Struggle Should Not Apply to Writers

by Aaron Fulkerson

After wondering for some time why I'm such a wet blanket about the Olympics, an answer has emerged. The point of this blog is that I believe my reason applies to writers as well - some of us at least.

The aim of the Games, for individuals and teams, is to make your country proud by proving that you are better than anyone else at what you do. And, as the bard says, 'There's the rub.' I strongly believe that 'be the best' should not be applied as widely as it is. All right, a little competition at school sports days for fun - but look how easily it turns into bitter competition, no less for parents than for pupils, perhaps damaging the child-parent relationship along the way. How much more must it affect athletes and other competitors to fail in their bid, especially after years of planning, outlay and effort have taken over their lives.

Moving on to writing, I have also realised that it is not so important to 'be the best'. Although for many years I have been a published article writer, recently I have taken to fiction, making use of courses, advice books and feedback. At first I naively entered competitions, and heard nothing. Then a little feedback started to arrive, often mainly positive with just a few correctable problems. That's progress, and I'm happy with it. I'm now seeing my fiction published here and there, and that's joyous. Fortunately I don't need to make my living this way, and any type of success adds building blocks to my self esteem and confidence as a writer.

For those who are able to make their living through writing, that's just wonderful. I sense that many are not especially striving to win competitions, but just to write work that large numbers of people are happy to buy and enjoy reading. If an agent puts an author's work in for a competition, fine, and it if does well - brilliant.

In summary, I feel that progress and success lie in building on one's own achievements, grasping opportunities and making the best possible outcome, rather than wanting to conquer everyone else.

So my competition efforts will be limited, although I love to read winning entries. I'm aiming to improve my standards and my publication rate as an end in itself. And that's why I don't rate the Olympics. It's not necessary to be the best.