My sons have played football since 2006. They are both in high school now, the oldest a junior playing wide receiver and corner for the varsity squad, and the younger getting ready to start his season on the junior high team. The high school program has been struggling for years but we are all sure it is at the turning point now. We have an enthusiastic young coach; supportive assistant coaches; a core group of experienced players who were very successful in the local youth league working alongside newer, much-needed teammates; and a healthy sports booster association that has upgraded the playing and practice facilities. The team has been conditioning since last winter and went to a football camp together this summer.
In a nutshell, they are working hard to succeed. All the pieces are in place.
On Friday night, they lost 55 -14.
The score does not reflect the improvement we see, believe me. But there are still gaps in every aspect of the squad. Tiny failures to execute, all the way from the coaches to the youngest players, from offense to defense, that cost one yard here and a first down there. Small mistakes that add up to 55 points.
Anyone who has ever worked for anything knows this is the nature of any endeavor. Doors keep slamming shut, and you try the next door or you quit. It takes time to build a successful program or product, to get enough experience and volume to achieve success. In the meantime, we have to cling to the moments of brilliance. Cheer for the lineman who made the big defensive play. Scream when those elusive touchdowns ARE made. Notice that the coach is uploading film at 1:00AM Saturday morning: learning, planning, helping his young team to improve.
I’m living this in my life as an author. I published my first book almost two years ago and just put my sixth title out at the end of August. I should be proud of that, in and of itself. Reviews are good, but I couldn’t buy a week’s worth of groceries on what I’m making in a month selling books, especially with two teenaged athletes bellying up to the table every night!
When you are working so hard for that elusive success, little things feel catastrophic, like the rejection from the big expensive advertising site who said my book didn’t fit their needs, then didn’t even HAVE a historical romance in their offerings for the date I requested, as if my book is so bad it can’t even fill an empty slot in their roster.
But other strategies have started working for me. Making the first book in my series permanently free and visiting on a couple of blogs that get a nice stream of traffic has gotten September off to a stronger start than I expected.
So, I keep trying doors. I keep filling gaps in as many aspects of my self-publishing business as I can. I am a team of one. I am coach, player, and booster, lucky enough to have some amazing fans on the sidelines cheering me along. And just like my sturdy boys and their teammates, I’m not giving up.
Author’s note added September 18: For the next uplifting chapter of the football saga, please visit the blog entry linked here How Badly Do You Want To Win?