I love watching my boys swim. After a two-year hiatus, they started training with a team five days a week in January, and today was their second swim meet. They've worked hard and we saw significant improvement over their first meet. The excitement on their faces when they realize that their discipline and hard work are paying off is worth the lost weekends. (And the exorbitant fees–yeesh swimming is expensive.)
It's kind of like writing. When I look back at the first book I attempted just over a year ago, the mistakes make me cringe. I didn't know anything about writing fiction, and it's amazing how much I didn't learn from all the novels I'd been reading. I head-hopped like crazy and did a lot of telling.
I may not be publication-ready yet, but that year spent reading craft books, attending RWA meetings, reading blogs, working with a critique partner, and writing, is paying off.
Similarly, the daily practice my boys put in is being rewarded with improvements in time and technique. In the competition with the other swimmers, their hard work doesn't always mean they will win the race, but they can still meet their personal goals.
Writing is the same way. All the time spent doesn't guarantee publication, but I can measure my progress against my own goals and be proud of my accomplishments.
I'm glad my boys are learning that no matter what you want to achieve in life, the key is to follow Dory's advice in Finding Nemo: just keep swimming.
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