After burning the midnight oil to watch the Tour de France way too many nights (Go Cadel, Simon, Stuart, et. al.), I have made an easy switch to being an Olympic spectator. Sporting competition generates a wealth of comedies, tragedies and other stories and I regularly find myself wondering things such as, “How many times has that gymnast had to fall to learn to do that?” and, “How does it feel to be an Olympian who never makes it beyond the heats”? Or, “What happens to an athlete whose post-Olympic life never lives up to the thrill of winning gold?”
There aren’t many sporting trophies in my cabinet so I can only admire those with the drive to keep on competing. However, I was reminded recently of my results in writing competitions in years gone by. As a student, I entered the Moonee Valley Regional Libraries open short story competition and was judged to have come second. Almost 20 years later, I entered the same competition older and wiser – and came second again.
My advice to any writer is not to judge yourself by the results you may or may not receive in these types of competitions. Plaudits and encouragement are fantastic and can really recharge your creative energy to keep on writing. On the other hand, if you take the results to heart and fail to meet your own expectations you can scupper your efforts to succeed. The best bet is to do what you do because you enjoy it and avoid comparisons with other artists’ achievements. As the marvellous Michael Leunig says, “Paint as you like and die happy”.