When I was in high school I played basketball in a church league. I have to qualify my league of play because I am not exactly what anyone would describe as being tall. My high school’s coaches would have laughed me off the court had I shown up for try outs. My team was made up of several other like-minded individuals. We were there out of friendship rather than talent.
In other words, we were awful. I fouled out many of those games because I had a better chance of preventing the other team from scoring than actually making a shot myself.
We were so bad that the opposing team’s fans cheered for us when we managed to score a basket.
You might think that other teams would have been made up with the same caliber of misfit and be equally terrible, but you’d be wrong. Our opponents were also affiliated with religious organizations, but were religious high schools. They had access to the cream of the crop rather than just making do with random volunteers. My poor coaches didn’t stand a chance.
Washington Generals, I feel your pain. We went into each game knowing that we were going to lose, but determined to have a good time anyway. We would call out words of encouragement to each other from the bench. Good Hustle! Nice pass! But it was never enough.
Then one season some new recruits joined our little team. These girls had game. We started lose only by single digits. Then only by two points. Suddenly we were ending games in the W column. It was like every single feel good sports movie you’ve ever seen, only it was my reality. The opposing team’s parents stopped cheering for us when we made our shots. We were a real threat. Our coach no longer allowed us goof off during practice. She tasked us with working harder we accepted. We began to believe we had a chance.
We finished my last season second in the league.
When I first published An Uncertain Faith, I heard a lot of people say, great job. I wish I could do something like that. I sold early copies to friends and acquaintances willing to support me in my dream. Then months after it was published one of my friends told me, “I read your book, and it was good. I mean, I would have liked it even if you weren’t the author.” She supported me, but her surprise, while extremely complimentary, proved she hadn’t been a true believer up until that point.
Co-workers began to ask me how far along I was with book project two. I gave status reports such as when I hit the 50% and 75% mark on my first draft. I started telling them how I was doing with the blog and what I was learning along the way. I can tell you the exact moment when many of my closest friends, family, and co-workers stopped merely supporting me and started to actually believe in me. I saw the change in their face and in the tone of their voice when they asked their questions.
Their tone became sharper, harder, but not in bad way. Just like my old basketball coach, they were more serious in their interest. I returned the tone in kind. I wasn’t talking about a hobby. I was telling them about my business. I was working hard and it was showing.
I am now only a month away from finishing up the initial first draft of my second novel. I am no longer only shouting words of encouragement at myself from the bench. Cheering my efforts, but not visualizing the win. I believe in myself. I believe that I have the determination to accomplish my goal.