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Over the weekend, I was involved in the setup of a contest for aspiring writers. It’s an association I’ve had for many years, and almost without exception, I find myself speaking to writers about their talents. I’d like to think that I am both kind and encouraging with that obligation, but I also have come to another realization.
Writing is an art, regardless of whether you are the best. There is one (or maybe millions more) who will find worth in your words. There, your reward. As writers, we can be discouraged when measuring ourselves against another. I suspect that’s true for everything, and not just writing. But the truth is we measure ourselves against a very small population of the world – those who write. Instead, might we measure ourselves against the whole of creation, knowing ours is a gift that needs not publication to be.
The contest I am currently judging has about twenty entries. I refuse to give awards for more than first place, for every writer should assume that if they didn’t win, they were second. And yet, even if it were known that someone was in last place, that still places them ahead of the thousands who never thought themselves talented enough to enter.
If you are an honor student in high school and choose to attend Georgetown because you want to be a lawyer, you should be prepared that it will be tough because you’re competing with the best. If you attend another university, you might find you do better because you’re not discouraged by the competition. Does it make you any less? Of course not, and if you become discouraged and opt out, then what have you robbed the universe of? Your talents – your one of a kind, unique wonderful talents.
I will likely never pen a best seller, but I write….and there, my joy, my gift continuing – my life eternal. Regardless of the others who share my obsession, I am uniquely wholly me. My weaknesses are my strengths. When I get discouraged (thinking everything I write sounds the same), I remind myself of the one who has never read a thing I’ve written. There, I am new. There, I am only.
There, I win every single time.
. . .