Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I am a huge 49ers fan. Always have been. When I was a kid, the team practiced just up the road and my dad would take my sisters and me out to watch. I even have a war story (and maybe a scar or two) from the time I got Jerry Rice’s autograph.
(If you're wondering how this relates to writing, be patient with me, okay? We'll get there.)
Over the past few years, there have been many moving pieces and parts to track as the 49ers fight their way back from nearly a decade of struggles. One of the more recent, and more colorful pieces to watch has been head coach, Jim Harbaugh. From his hard hitting handshakes to his vein popping tantrums on the sidelines, he is quite a character. And as a writer, I like characters.
When he came to San Francisco, Harbaugh brought with him a saying from his childhood that has really become the anthem of the team. It goes a little something like this:
The story of how that saying came to be is here, but the real genius of it is found in how Harbaugh’s used it to build a culture around his players. A couple seasons ago, before Colin Kaepernick took over, Alex Smith was the starting quarterback for the 49ers and I happened to catch an interview he did with Bob Costas. Costas asked Alex (and I’m paraphrasing here) how, through all the years, through all the criticism, was he able to maintain belief in himself. This is what Alex said:
I looked around at the league, especially at the quarterback position, and you soon realize that nobody has it easy. No one had the easy way to become a starting quarterback and playing well. Everybody’s gone through things, everybody deals with things. It’s the good ones–the guys who stick around are the guys who focus on what they can control . . . The people that allow the other stuff, the negativity to creep into their head, allow it to affect them, you aren’t going to be around very long. You’ve got to be thick skinned. You can’t let those things change your work ethic, change your approach to the game.
In my writing career, in yours, we will be tempted to compare our journeys to the journeys of others. We'll look at all the advantages we think other writers have and compare them to the disadvantages heaped into our own lives. And it will be very easy to feel sorry for ourselves.
It's a dangerous game to play, friends, and it's one that will not further your career. In fact, for many authors out there, jealousy becomes a stumbling block they can't ever get past.
When the green monster rears its nasty head, you have to adopt a mindset that says, “NOBODY has it better than me. Everyone I am tempted to compare myself to has stuff to fight. They have things they must battle through, mountains to conquer. No one has it easy.”
Your journey belongs to you. Own it. Wake up each day, crawl into your writing cave and shout these words:
WHO'S GOT IT BETTER THAN ME?
And then, like the crazy writer you are, answer yourself. Say,