I am not a competitive person. I'm not athletic, so competition, even against myself, has always been a source of frustration rather than satisfaction. Sports are really only fun for those who win, and the idea that there's lessons to be learned from losing is utter, 100% grade A bullshit. Typically, those who lose generally already learnt that lesson, and those who need to learn it are too good to get much opportunity to learn it.

I grew up riding horses. Betcha didn't know that. Dressage and combined training. I admire that sport: dressage based on the needs of war and combined training based in the rest of what humankind used horses for: transportation. I am not a pretty rider. I did not win a slew of blue ribbons, or even red, or even very many at all. But I have an extremely competent seat, and I have a blast every time I climb on the back of a horse. I don't need competition to make it fun for me. I just need the horse.

Now the sport is snowboarding. I call it one of the grassroots sports, just emerging from stigma into legitimacy. (Others are skateboarding, bmx racing, motocross, snowcross--basically the XGames suite of sports.) The thing I most admire about these grassroots sports is the lack of competition in the field. Now, I realize those folks are out to fucking win--and there are a slew of them. That's not what I mean. What I mean is literally, when competition lacks in the field. On the pitch. At the skate park. At the track. At the terrain park. The base nature of these sports is failure. When a kid drops into a half-pipe, there's a better than average chance he's going to fail. That shit is hard.

But if you watch them, really watch them, you can see they're doing it for the joy of the thing.

Early on I rode with my husband, a fabulous skier (and instructor). He looked at me at lunch and grinned. "Yer all snowy." Skiers, if you don't know, don't fall--not the good ones, anyway.

I shrugged. "If a snowboarder ain't snowy, then they ain't trying."

Perhaps that's why I'm so suited for writing. Inherent in writing is failure and rejection. I could list a thousand things to gain from the failure: learned perserverence, tough skin, able to withstand bad reviews in a single bound. But writers don't write to get published--not when it gets down to what drives us to the keyboard. When typing, we don't think about the editor who may someday buy our story or the Amazon reviews or the fame and accolades (heh).

Our mind, our focus, is on the story itself because we write for the joy of the thing.

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