My daughter is six and involved in gymnastics. I say involved because the program she's in is more than fun-time recreational gym. It's work. Hard work. I've been watching her recently and have noticed something interesting. A year ago, when she fell while practicing a skill, she'd lie on the ground for a moment looking stunned before picking herself up and trying again. Anymore, she falls and jumps right back up without even blinking twice. It seems that while she's been learning the skills, she's also been learning something else. She's been learning to fall.
The other day, she fell off the bar, landed pretty much on her face, swung back up and started the move again, this time completing it flawlessly. After practice, I asked if it hurt when she fell. Her response surprised me. Not no. Not yes. Instead, she said, "I think so, but I got it the second time I tried (it being the move and not the fall)!"
She thinks it hurt? How can she not know?
I have a theory about this. One I am more than willing to share.
Gymnasts are incredibly tough people. How can they not be? To take part in the sport they have to learn to feel pain, to work through it, to even ignore it. They have to experience failure and still believe they can achieve success. They have to fall, brush themselves off, and try again. And again. And again. The only way they can do this is if the pleasure of success outshines the painful falls; if those small triumphs can somehow ease even the biggest wipe outs.
See where I'm headed with this?
Of course you do!
Writing may not be a physically demanding activity, but mentally it can be excruciating. Like the young gymnast soaring from one bar to the next and falling flat on her face, we often find ourselves breathless with pain as our manuscripts are rejected. Slam! All the breath is knocked from our bodies and we're left gasping, wondering if we have the guts to go for it again.
In the past years, I've worked with a lot of writers. Some of them have tried again and again. Slamming down, getting up, slamming down again, until they finally found themselves soaring grasping that bar and swinging high. Others have fallen hard and stayed down, unable to recover from the pain.
There's a reason for both things, I think. God's will. His timing. His plan. But true success can only be had when we are willing to forget the pain and push ourselves whole heartedly toward that high bar again.