Sunday, 9 October 2011

What Can Evel Knievel Teach Us About Writing?

On Being a Daredevil
Mark Lee Pearson

“Where there is little risk, there is little reward.”

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I wanted to be like the greatest bike rider of all time, Evel Knievel.

From the time I was eight years old until I was about twelve I spent all my free time practicing jumps over my little brother as he lay in the road, standing on the saddle as I freewheeled down busy high streets, bunny hopping up and down kerbs, and trying out every trick in the book.

Now, luckily for me my parents could only afford to buy me a Raleigh Chopper. The injuries I sustained were minimal. If eight-year old me had been in charge of a Harley Davidson like the great daredevil himself, it wouldn't have been just broken bones and mashed up organs, I would definitely have ended up on a slab. (Along with my fearless little brother...)

The point I am trying to make here is that I threw every little piece of my energy into becoming Evel Knievel. The great daredevil himself said,"Where there is little risk, there is little reward." When I was on my bike, I believed with all my heart that I was him. And little by little I saw my skill as a cyclist improve with each trick I mastered. By the time I was twelve I was invincible on a Raleigh Chopper!

“You come to a point in your life when you really don't care what people think about you, you just care what you think about yourself.

Evel Knievel

Of course, I gave up on my pre-pubescent daredevil dream of being Evel Knievel years ago. Though emulating the great was an important stage in my growth, I know now that it is important to explore my own individual strengths in order to achieve a measure of greatness.

I am a writer now and I am grateful for the lesson that Evel Knievel taught me when I was eight.

I never gave up on that daredevil spirit. I kept taking risks with everything I put my hand to. I became a disc jockey, I formed a record company, I gave up a job in engineering to study philosophy, I studied abroad, I moved to Japan...

I became a writer.

Just as I got back on my Raleigh Chopper every time I fell off--whatever injury I sustained--I now keep submitting my fiction to publishers and magazines, because I believe with all my heart that I have what it takes to be a great writer.

Of course, the rejections pile up. But, you know what? It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because I can sleep at night knowing that I am doing my best to achieve a measure of greatness.

What am I doing?

1) Writing every day.
2) Finishing what I write.
3) Submitting what I write.

I listen to the advice of others and try to improve my craft. I listen to feedback and try to incorporate it into my stories without compromising my ideas. I take a rejection as a sign of success. At least I can say I was daring enough to try.

I hope you are daring enough to try too.

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