A big welcome from the WordWranglers to aspiring author Terri Guy! Terri's blogging about winning, losing...and those cool New Orleans Saints! Welcome, Terri!
I’m from Louisiana where February has been an exciting month. Not just because of our annual Mardi Gras festivities, but because we’ve been celebrating a victory that was a long time coming. Our New Orleans Saints, after having only nine winning seasons since the team’s inception in 1967, became Super Bowl champions!
You can’t imagine what a shock this has been to us. For years the Saints were a laughingstock. A local sportscaster dubbed them the “Aints” and started the trend of fans wearing paper bags over their heads, which later spread to other losing teams. He said if the Saints ever went to the Super Bowl, he’d wear a dress and dance in the street. He died in 2005, but in his honor, thousands of men donned dresses for a parade on January 31, strutting their stuff from the Superdome to the French Quarter. And then on February 7, the devil started shoveling snow in hell. Because we all used to joke that when it froze over, the Saints would win the Super Bowl.
I’m not a football fan myself, so I only jumped on the bandwagon this year. Yep, one of those who got interested just because the team was doing so well. But football is the biggest sport in this state, and we have some very hard core fans. Many who have stuck with the Saints year in and year out, no matter how bad it got. I started thinking about the way these fans have believed in them all these years. The fact that most every team goes through some losing seasons before they win, and how many long, torturous seasons of defeat the Saints endured before they finally tasted victory.
Writing can be a lot like that. We struggle with ideas and characters, then with stringing them all together to make a plot. We think we’re on a winning streak, only to be shot down by the criticism of others. Looking back over what we’ve written, we realize they’re right. Our writing sucks, and we’re so humiliated that hiding under a paper bag sounds like the perfect thing to do.
As we study our craft and allow more experienced writers to guide us, we begin to improve, and we start to believe a winning season is possible. We keep at it, getting brave enough to submit our work to agents and editors. To enter contests. But then come the rejections and the low scores. We still don’t give up, though. Subsequent submissions render requests for partials, maybe even fulls, and on top of that, we place or win in a contest. However, the results are the same. The agent’s or editor’s final response is still the big “R”.
When the losing seasons pile up, the temptation to get out of the game grows strong. But it’s then we have to become our own biggest fans and surround ourselves with other writers who will also be our fans. We can’t get bogged down in our failures from past seasons. We have to believe in each new season and persevere, knowing that if we don’t give up, eventually we will win.
No matter how disappointing the previous season, diehard Saints fans were back supporting their team with its first fall kickoff. They didn’t miss a beat cheering them on. They kept believing in what many said was impossible. Just as their dream for the Saints came true, so can ours.
Losing seasons are merely a rough stretch on the road to victory.