This morning I accompanied my kids to a JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz) tournament. They both did their best, and my younger son “quizzed out” (answered five questions and earned the right to sit out the rest of the round) on his final round. Still, they were both discouraged that their teams didn’t win and that their scores didn’t earn them a place in the top ten quizzers, so they both declared that they wanted to quit the team and not participate either in the final tournament in January or come back next year. Of course, I shared their disappointment and wished they could have done better, but I tried to be a good parent and tell them that they had done their best and that with more studying, they could do better next time. When they still said it was no use trying again and that they still wanted to quit, I had to get a little tough with them. I told them that winning wasn’t everything and that they couldn’t take the attitude that it wasn’t worth participating if they couldn’t always win. I explained that there are many times in life where their participation and their perseverance are more important than whether or not they won or got acknowledged for what they did.
When we got home, I hopped on Facebook to see what was new in the land of social media. I scanned through the numerous posts on the NaNoWriMo page, and I saw quite a few folks saying that they were throwing in the towel, or strongly considering throwing in the towel, because for whatever reason, they were so far behind in their word counts that they would never be able to reach that elusive 50K goal. Well, you know, I’m once again in that same boat. With being involved with all the kids’ school activities and Scout activities, not to mention my church commitments and my book promotion commitments, I don’t have a lot of writing time myself, and I spent a few minutes commiserating with these writing buddies. Then I happened to read a few comments in one of the discussion threads in which someone jumped in and said pretty much the same thing to the discouraged writer that I had said to my sons–“Even if you only write 20K words, or 2K words, or even just 200 words, that’s more than you had written at the beginning of NaNo. Every word you write is a victory, even if you don’t ‘win.'”
So later tonight, or tomorrow afternoon, or whenever I’m able to sit down to add some words to my NaNo project, I will do so with that advice in mind. And I hope that I can, by my example as much as by my words, show my kids that even grown-ups sometimes have to just do their best and accept that they may not always reach the goals they set for themselves.
And that’s okay.
The important thing is the fact that I am participating in something I enjoy and that by persevering, I will become a better writer in the long run.