Running on Steam

***

It is interesting to me to watch the NFL and see which players shine and which don’t. Robert Griffin III had a tremendous debut for the Redskins, putting up a performance that even a veteran quarterback would be extremely proud of. This makes me wonder why some players emerge almost instantly as valuable players and others with similar capabilities, like a Vince Young perhaps, struggle to even find a home in the league. Both players out of college were highly touted, possessed of immense amounts of talent and all the raw materials one would need to be a star in the NFL, and yet one succeeds and the other doesn’t. Obviously i am not on the inside of these organizations, and there are certainly variables which i do not perceive at root here. For instance, the players and coaches surrounding a young player likely have a huge impact on whether or not the player will thrive, but such circumstances are out of a players control, and in fact the most talented players are not likely to land with highly favored teams due to the nature of the draft.

i am only speculating, but my guess is that a large part of a young player’s success stems from two factors: willingness to subject their talent to the instruction and guidance of veterans and coaches, and a commitment to studying film and playbooks. i presume this is true not because i am immensely familiar with playing professional sports, but because i suspect that football is the same as any other profession. One can enter with all of the promise and natural ability in the world, but if one does not have these characteristics, he will never grow. This is essentially the spot in which i find myself right now. i just spent the last month hammering out what i thought was a pretty excellent short story, but after some consideration of both the work and of others’ opinions of it, i recognize that it is flat and trite and obvious, lacking in subtlety and poignancy. Basically, it is just not good.

My gut reaction was to be disappointed by this, but i should have realized from the outset that it wasn’t likely to be a successful venture. Why? Practically, i have done very little to hone my craft other than continue to use it blindly. i have not studied the art academically, i have not sought the guidance of others who are more knowledgable, and i have operated almost solely on whatever natural ability i may have. Just as in athletics, this may have been sufficient to carry me through grade school, and perhaps may have been good enough to get me through college, had i stuck it out. But it will hardly be enough to take me from amateur hobbyist to vocational fiction writer. Making this transition requires diligence and dedication, not simply the gas of imagination, and i have not exhibited these characteristics historically. i have been too proud to listen to peers and elders regarding my writing, holding instead the opinion that i already know what makes writing good and what makes it bad. In light of recent events, i am beginning to think that this position will be difficult to defend.

But whether or not i ever become a professional writer, the lesson is applicable to all aspects of my life. It rings especially true for me spiritually. The same arrogance and presumption i find in my writing roars quite loudly in my soul as well. i may have a natural ability to understand the Word, and a talent for grasping difficult doctrine and difficult theological concepts, but if i do not maintain a humble submission to authority and a willingness to continue my pursuit of greater truths, then it won’t be long before i am simply out of fuel. Because in this case, Christianity is not about knowing it all but about living it out, and my heart is so faulty that it doesn’t take long before i am not doing at all what i know i am supposed to. This is all the more devastating when i realize that it is not just me who is affected by this failure, but everyone around me.

i failed pretty significantly this weekend. i won’t trouble you with specifics, but suffice it to say that it is quite obvious that my heart has a long way to go. There is not enough “Jesus knowledge” in the world to conquer the darkness and anger in my soul. It is only submission, only humility, only recognition that i need Him every day that will do this. As long as i maintain my pride and think that i somehow “get it” enough to succeed, i will do nothing but fall repeatedly. My soul’s elbows are already skinned to bleeding, its joints swollen and bruised. i am tired of falling, and i’m not sure how much more i can take. The good thing is, at least i am fortunate enough to know how to regain my balance. It is just a matter of committing to it.

***

I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.   – Psalm 119 : 16

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3 thoughts on “Running on Steam

  1. I agree with your assessment for successful athletes and others as well, but I would add that to be successful, distractions must be avoided. Some of this can be done by relying on others to take care of the details, but some amount of complete focus on the craft is imperative.

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    • True. This is by no means a comprehensive psychological assessment of success, merely a metaphor for what I am learning lately. But distractions abound, that is certain! Thanks for the amendment!

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  2. I don’t know nothing about writing.

    But I like to read a lot, and I like to read what writers write about writing.

    http://www.comicmix.com/columns/2012/09/09/john-ostrander-how-i-learned-to-write/

    This is an interesting little article from one of my favorite writers in the field of comic books. This man can really write good stories, whether in his own universe, (Grimjack) or in licensed fiction (he has written probably the best Star Wars comics stories ever published.)

    Thought you might enjoy it. I still haven’t read the short story. I will though. I have been saving it for a time where I could read it more or less in one sitting. I will try to read it this afternoon.

    Josh

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