I have won a few teaching awards in my day. Not bragging, just leading up to something. One time was especially awesome because not only was the honor a big surprise but also because family members were there hiding in the audience. However, most of the time people don’t win awards for teaching. They’re unsung heroes. They go into the classroom day after day and try to infect students with a love for their subject matter and for learning itself. And while awards are nice. I would have done it anyway.
People get awards for being top salesperson, employee of the month, and Miss America. People like Tiger Woods and Angelina Jolie are household words. Most people, however, don’t reach that level of recognition or fame, yet they continue to participate in sports events like golf tournaments and baseball games even in the sweltering heat. I’ve participated with my brothers and hundreds of others in half-marathons, and we’ve never won anything except a medal that looks exactly like the one worn by all of the other participants.
People do things because they can. I once knew a young English teacher who was getting ribbed about participating in the Myrtle Beach Marathon. “Why are you doing such a thing?” several people asked.
Her answer was a simple one. “Because I can.”
People do things because they want to. And sometimes they do them because they have to or because it’s fun. Others keep plugging away at jobs, hobbies, sports, and other pursuits because they want to live a full life. To repeat, they want to live a full life.
Those same reasons are some of the reasons why people write. They don’t expect to have a best seller or win a Pulitzer Prize. They write because they have a message to share or a story to tell. They keep at it because they can, because they have to, and because they want to have a full life.
Only a small percentage of writers win awards or make a lot of money. So I’m wondering why some people think if you can’t be tops in writing, you shouldn’t even try, while in sports or teaching or selling insurance, the expectation is different. A friend of mine wrote a detailed family history and feels that it might just be the most important thing she’ll ever write. Plus, as she was writing it, she realized that some family she wrote about were extraordinary people living ordinary lives. Just like us, they loved and worked and raised families.
What about you? Is there something you’re longing to write but don’t feel confident enough? Whether a family history, a cook book, or a poem, if you have something to say, there’s someone who needs to hear it…even if it’s a great granddaughter who hasn’t even been born yet. What’s holding you back?