Thursday, February 20, 2014

Greatness Always Looks Easy

by Saralee Rosenberg

Watching Meryl Davis and Charlie White capture the gold in Sochi was breathtaking and inspiring. How could we not be dazzled by their memorable performance? And who among us didn't secretly imagine the thrill of being in their places? Of electrifying crowds, judges and viewers at home?

Then we got up and fetched a snack.

Of course we can't ever be like these champion skaters. Who wants to spend seventeen years perfecting death-defying moves that require another athlete's body being entwined with ours while circling an ice rink on a single blade?

Seventeen years. That's how long it took this talented duo to achieve their dream of standing on the Olympic winner's platform to earn the coveted gold medal.

Greatest always looks easy.

Any time we watch others succeed, whether they've earned a diploma, won a competition, or played on a champion team, we applaud the victory but not the sacrifice. We celebrate the rewards but not the time, talent, energy, and determination it took to get there.

The same is true for appreciating writers who toil and sacrifice to finish their novels. Unless you've ever labored over a mess of a manuscript, with its redacted pages, illegible notes, and yellow stickies, there is no way you could  understand the tireless struggle to make the story meaningful and compelling. Or at least coherent.

When I am a prisoner to my work-in-progress- I feel torment, doubt, confusion, frustration and angst-- and that is only after the first few chapters.

That is why I'm both hurt and amused when readers think that my novels took a few months to write. At most they'll allow a year. Then I tell them that each one took two years... or four. And they look at me like I must be lying. How could a book they read in a few days take that long to create?

Well... let's not forget that the skating program that just earned a gold medal took seventeen years to perfect and it lasted a total of four minutes! Plus the skaters had the benefit of full time coaches and trainers, say nothing of family and friends (and fans) to help them through their injuries and exhaustion.

I'm not suggesting that writing a novel and being a champion skater require the same skills. I'm saying that to reach "the end", the game is the same. If you want it bad enough you'll find a way to persevere. It may be at a great price but the prize is eternal-- a living legacy to your courage and strength.

So maybe I'll never experience the joy of getting a gold medal, but I'm delighted to stand before a group of readers who applaud my jokes and ask about my next book.

And by the way. Cheers to anyone who is willing to fall a few million times in the hopes of succeeding.

Saralee Rosenberg is the author of four novels from Avon/HarperCollins including A LITTLE HELP FROM ABOVE, CLAIR VOYANT, FATE AND MS. FORTUNE and DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD. Her latest project is a novel for younger readers, THE MIDDLE SCHOOL MEDIUM. Visit her website.


  1. What an inspiring post ... and so timely! But yes, the great ones make it look so effortless it's hard to see the struggle. That's why readers love you so!

  2. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I'd be interested in a blog link exchange.
    My blog covers a lot of interesting and helpful posts just like yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. And also, I think you'll love my recent blog post titled Top 5 Free Personal Development Articles That You’re Yet To Read

    I'm hoping to hear from you too and quickly, you've got a great blog here.


  3. Saralee, I am so with you on this. I wish the words would just flow to the page. I'm in year 5 of my work in progress. hundreds of pages, a thousand directions, and still I am sometimes crippled by doubt. Keep going, I love your work.

  4. Maybe not a gold medal but how about a bestselling list? You definitely have what it takes. Inspiring post.

  5. At least we writers don't have to wear sequins when we work!

  6. Saralee, I fall every day, sometimes hourly. Great post.

  7. I loved this post, Saralee -- thank you! I watched Davis and White with awe...and in great appreciation of their years of work and commitment. The good news for writers, at least, is that we're not considered "old" when we leave our 20s, which is a good thing for me because I need those extra decades to keep improving ;).

    And Judith, LOL about the sequins!!

  8. Bravo, Saralee! How right you are! What a wonderful post!

  9. Like Lauren, I fell often and usually hard. But I suppose I wouldn't be walking today if I let that own me, right?! Thanks for this post.