Let the Games Begin!

Happy Friday everyone! I am SO excited that the Olympics start today. I’m going to be glued to my TV for the next two weeks. You KNOW I love a good competition. I’ll be focused on gymnastics, diving, swimming, and track. What are YOUR favorite Olympic sports?
I was trying to come up with a scintillating and insightful way to use the Olympics as a metaphor for this writing/publishing journey. But frankly, I am just too excited about the opening ceremonies today and can’t seem to come up with anything.
So… why don’t YOU do it? Tell me… how is being a writer like training for an Olympic sport? How is getting publishing like going to the Olympics?
Can’t wait to read your answers. (If I can take my eyes off the TV for a few moments.)
Have good weekend…

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Skipfly on December 11, 2011 at 2:00 AM


    Wonderful blog post, saw on…

  2. Anonymous on August 18, 2008 at 5:57 PM

    >I thought you were on vacation? Good post

  3. Rachelle on August 11, 2008 at 12:07 AM

    >Anonymous, I appreciate your point of view. Nobody is arguing with you, and nobody can deny China’s human rights issues. But I’m thinking that at this point, the games are not about China. The games are now about these 11,000+ individuals competing in the sports they’ve spent their lives training for. The games ARE about “one world, one dream” even if none of us really live up to that ideal yet — some less than others. I don’t see any reason to take the focus off the achievements of these people who have worked so hard to get to the Olympics.

    I have my own political views, but this is not the forum to discuss them. And I’m going to continue to enjoy the stories, the victories, and the incredible moments that only the Olympics can bring.

  4. Anonymous on August 10, 2008 at 11:40 PM

    >Here’s the thing about human rights:

    A: If you can read this, you’re human.

    B: If YOUR rights were taken away, you’d want someone to stand up for you.

    Part of the agreement that allowed China to hold the Olympics in their country this year included that they would honor the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    They haven’t lived up to that agreement, hence the reason I’m saddened about the games being held in their country.

    Here’s a link to the UN Covenant: http://www.hrweb.org/legal/cpr.html

    You can say that we can’t do anything, that our words will fall on deaf ears. But if that were true, we’d still have slavery in our country, women and African-Americans wouldn’t be able to vote.

    You are writers, aren’t you?

    You, of all people, should believe that your words count.

  5. Camille Cannon (Eide) on August 10, 2008 at 11:18 PM

    >Okay, this is probably taboo, but here’s a link to a recent post on my blog touching on the Olympic influence on my writing.


  6. Anonymous on August 10, 2008 at 7:32 AM

    >Hey Anonymous—I agree with you and our participation in these Olympics. I am also reminded of my teaching days when sometimes you need to do more than just read about it. Hands on Curriculum is the way to go.

    ‘Be the Change You want to see’. We can dig our feet in and make a statement to China which I believe would fall on deaf ears or we can still participate and model ‘good’ behavior and how to treat people.

    I love and still tear up about that little boy– 2nd grader who was pulling out his friends from the rubble after the huge earthquake back in May/June.

    How scared he must have been. He lost 20 classmates in a matter of seconds and he still went back to help because he his ‘classroom job’ was Hall Monitor and it was his job to keep his class safe.

    Can you imagine pulling on arms and legs of friends only to find out they are dead? I am glad he was able to help some classmates out that were alive.

    Imagine going from a class of 30 to a class of 10. How brave that boy must have been.

  7. Anonymous on August 10, 2008 at 7:17 AM

    >I know a lot of people are impressed by how many resources China has been willing to throw at it, but so far, the Olympics in Beijing hasn’t measured up to some of the previous cities. Can a guy running around the top edge of the building compare to the archer that lit the flame a few years? And what it with those buildings? The Bird’s Nest is one of the ugliest buildings in the world. It is second only to the building where the swimming and diving competition is taking place. If that isn’t enough, when they show an outside shot, the ozone is so thick it looks like fog.

    As for the human rights issues that China has, I don’t know that that should take away from the Olympics.

  8. militia207 on August 9, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    >the way the opening games started on NBC…. going from athlete to athlete stating quickly the quote…. It’s not the truimph it’s the struggle.

  9. Gwen Stewart on August 9, 2008 at 4:27 AM

    >I can’t add anything comprehensive to the great responses above. But I will say this: the best athletes and the best writers make it look easy, almost effortless, when you’re sitting on your couch watching or holding a book in your hand. So easy you almost think, “I could have done that too, if only…”

    However, as the cliche goes, don’t try this at home. Unless you MUST. Unless you can’t NOT do it. Then hold on for a ride fraught with amazement and angst. 🙂

  10. Jennifer AlLee on August 9, 2008 at 12:10 AM

    >I like the equestrian & gymnastic events, but this year I'm pretty interested in swimming, too.

    During the parade of nations I was struck by the one athlete from Niger. There he was, all by himself, proudly carrying his country's flag. Whether or not he wins in his sport, he's there… he's in the competition.

    That's how I see writing. We train and work hard, and finally finish the manuscript. We polish, cut, polish some more, until it's ready. Then, we jump into the fray… just one author among a crowd of other authors all hoping to win a spot on a bookstore shelf.

    I don't know if the athlete from Niger will win a medal, but I know he'll give it his all. And that's what I'm trying to do, too.

  11. Randy Mortenson on August 8, 2008 at 11:53 PM

    >I just wanted to add that I thought the opening ceremony was amazing. The guy that carried the torch through the air around the top of the stadium at the end? Best athlete in the house. Wow. I wonder if he had stickum on his hand to not drop that torch!

    Very cool. I was glad I watched. Disappointed not to see Michael Phelps march in, but glad he’s resting for his big 400 IM tomorrow. Go get ’em, man.

  12. Randy Mortenson on August 8, 2008 at 11:44 PM

    >The Olympics rock!
    Writing rocks!

    For me, the Olympics and writing are very, almost eerily, similar. I’m sitting in a chair for hours staring at a screen. Sometimes cheering! Sometimes shaking my head in disgust or disappointment. Always persevering.

    Go Michael Phelps!
    Go Katie Hoff!
    (Swimming’s my thing. I swam competitively through college and even won the 50m freestyle at a masters meet in Tokyo in 2003, well past college.)

  13. Anita Mae on August 8, 2008 at 11:31 PM

    >I met my husband a week before the 1976 Montreal Olympics. We spent almost every waking hour getting to know each other while watching those games. Thirty years later, we’re still sitting together, proudly watching them carry that red and white flag in. Yeah Canada.

    As for Rachelle’s challenge:
    No matter how many hours you work at it, no matter how much you learn, and no matter how much your technique improves, when you come right down to it, getting a publishing contract largely depends on luck or divine intervention, depending on your persuasion. It’s what you have, who needs it and whether it’s available at that moment. For the athlete, that could equate to what your game is, who’s willing to pay your costs, and whether you’re on top of your game. At the moment these three dreams collide, take the podium. Once your ms is published, or you beat your opponent, you get a medal. And then you have to chose – you can quit knowing you’ve done it once, or you can go back and do it again.

  14. Anonymous on August 8, 2008 at 6:00 PM

    >I’m having a hard time seeing the beauty of the Olympics this year.


    I’m quite upset that the decision was made to hold this event in a country that hasn’t lived up to their agreement to ratify the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    I honestly can’t support an event like this when I know about the Christians (and people of other faith) in prison right now because of what (and Who) they believe in.

  15. christa on August 8, 2008 at 5:44 PM

    >Just a thought…Herod funded the Olympics…God can use bad for good…..

    My writing and the Olympics? So many others, some with natural gifts and others who trained, believing in their ability to succeed, have gone before me. Showing me success is possible at all levels. Everyone won’t get the medal of,perhaps, an NYT bestseller, but they all get a chance to jump in the pool.

  16. Anonymous on August 8, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    >This isn’t exactly an Olympic analogy, but God often speaks to me about my writing in terms of running a race. Writing is part of the course God has me on, but it isn’t the goal. Jesus is the goal and if I ever make writing so important that I lose sight of him, then I’m doing it for nothing. After all, there are no writers in heaven, only sons and daughters.

    BTW – Anon 9:34. I don’t mean to pick on you, but I think you should try to look beyond the history and try to see the beauty of the Olympics. People from nations all over the world coming together in unity and peace–sounds a little bit like heaven! I just watched the opening ceremony. Wow! God mus have been smiling.

  17. Katy McKenna on August 8, 2008 at 2:05 PM

    >Cool Runnings is one of my all-time fave movies.

    “Sanka, ya dead?”

    We writers (and agents and editors, too!) have to watch out for each other!

  18. Anonymous on August 8, 2008 at 1:53 PM

    >Writing for publication is like living in Jamaica and putting together a bobsled team.

    (Okay, it’s a Winter Olympics reference. Sorry, it’s the best I’ve got.)

  19. Mark H. on August 8, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    >I was going to write something snarky about wading through 30 minutes of commercials and 29 minutes of human-interest stories for every 1 minute of actual competition, but then I realized that most agents could probably use that as an analogy for many of the submissions they receive!

    So, um, I better back to my training regimen…

  20. Marcie Gribbin on August 8, 2008 at 12:07 PM

    >Writing (to publish) can be equated to the Triathlon (a newer Olympic event). In a triathlon, there are three events you must accomplish: swimming, cycling, running. As writers, at first you feel like you are pushing against the tide, struggling to finish one last chapter, one last sentence, one last revision. You push, though you know in your heart that the publishing current is so much greater than you. But still, you propel forward. Then you get out of the water- finish your novel- and get ready for the next event. But you can’t do the next event alone. You need help. You need the right tool, the right equipment, the right bicycle. As a writer you need the right people (conference organizations, critique groups, agents, editors). So, with the help of your fine equipment, you push on toward the finish. Then, the home stretch. The foot race. Knowing how far you’ve come, you plunge forward into the publishing race. Your heart is pounding; you are exhausted, wondering if you will ever reach the finish line. You are afraid of losing. You even wonder if winning is worth it all. And then suddenly you see it. It’s not a flag or a line in the dust, it’s a book. Your book. You leap forward with renewed gusto. It’s in your reach. You can hear the cheers of your family, friends, coaches (agents, editors, critique partners). They stand and scream your name as you reach the finish. In a whirlwind of time, you are holding the paper trophy in your hands. You lift it high, and remember Who gave you the strength to finish.

  21. Anonymous on August 8, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    >My favorite Olympic sport is not watching. I’ll never understand what all the hoopla is about.

    Here’s a trivia question for all the Christians in your audience. Who can we thank for the Bejing Olympics??

    Herod the Great.

    Yeah, Herod the Great. Builder of the Temple, Caesarea, Masada and Herodium…killer of the innocents. In 12BC they wanted to hold an Olympiad, but had no funds. Herod generously stepped forward and funded the games. Without him the whole idea of Olympic competitions may have died out. Think about that as you watch the show from Bejing. 🙂

  22. Wilfred Bereswill on August 8, 2008 at 9:40 AM

    >Lately I’ve been visiting a lot of bookstores and thinking, do I really belong here? Am I good enough? I think every athelete that marches into that Bird’s Nest Stadium will be thinking the same thing; having the same doubts.

    Then when I showed up a Main Street Books in St. Charles Missouri for my book launch party and saw my book in the window and on the shelves, I started to believe and appeciate the long journey it took to get here. Again, the atheletes who have a chance to stand on that podium while their country’s anthem plays must feel the same rewards.

  23. Sheri Boeyink on August 8, 2008 at 9:35 AM

    >Well, I’ve always been partial to the long distance, endurance racers (I used to do inline speed skating marathons, etc) so I naturally lean towards those in the Olympics.

    I’d compare endurance sports/Olympics to writing because, like an elite athlete, you don’t achieve success overnight. It’s through hard work, discipline, disappointments, and faith that you get to each next step.

    Whether or not I ever get accepted by an agent, published, etc, is up to God, but I’ll keep walking through any doors He opens for me on this journey.

  24. D. Gudger on August 8, 2008 at 9:33 AM

    >I thought my friend Stinky and I were the only Olympic junkies left – so glad to find we’re not alone!

    My faves? Bob-sledding, luge, figure skating, downhill, diving, swimming, synchronized swimming, gymnastics and cycling.

    The pagentry sports such as ice skating and synchronized gymnastics are by far my tops b/c they don’t only require athletic training – they require creativity and expression. Skaters and swimmers must execute a program flawlessly from a technical standpoint and capture the emotions of the judges.

    Judging for those sports is more subjective than a hard time trial sport such as swimming.

    When agents and editors wade through hard-drive crushing volumes of proposals, subjectivity comes into play. What grips one editor, may make another yawn.

    Someone in a previous comment talked about not giving up. Just because one person isn’t thrilled with your story doesn’t mean you suck. However, if six or seven have serious reservations, then you need to take a very close look at your program and technique.

  25. Jacqueline T Lynch on August 8, 2008 at 9:21 AM

    >The marathon. Long, long distance. All by yourself. Lonliest game in town, even if you’re running in a crowd. Training, perseverence, a vision of the stadium in your head long before it’s in sight. Grueling, ultimate challenge of self-discipline. After a while your mind starts to wander. You start thinking of a story. Yeah, that’s possible. I could do that. I can do that. I can do it if I just keep going.

  26. Timothy Fish on August 8, 2008 at 9:10 AM

    >I have often found myself comparing writing to golf and I don’t play golf. They don’t actually play golf in the Olympics either, though it is recognized by the IOC. How does it relate to writing? Most people who play golf are amateurs. I’m sure there are plenty of amateurs who have daydreamed of being on the PGA tour and making a living by playing the game. As they watch that little white ball soar off the par three and land a foot from the whole they think, “If I were a little better, I could quit my job.”

    For most of us, writing is a hobby. There are amazingly successful authors who show us what is possible, just like Tiger has shown what is possible in golf. We dream… We dream, but it is the dream we chance and not reality. I think most golfer play to give them a chance to let off some steam. I think this is true for most writers, but unlike golf, which keeps score by how many strokes you take, writers keep score by how much other people like their books.

  27. Cecelia Dowdy on August 8, 2008 at 8:52 AM

    >Simply the competition! It’s brutal and competitive in the world of publishing!

  28. Karen Witemeyer on August 8, 2008 at 8:46 AM

    >I’m another die hard Olympics fan. Can’t wait for all the events. I, too, love gymnastics, track, swimming, and volleyball. However, there is something fun about the exposure to sports that we wouldn’t otherwise see and the human interest stories behind them. You can’t deny there’s something awe-inspiring about how those Chinese athletes can whack a ping pong ball.

    I agree with the analogies about practice, perseverance, accepting coaching, and all the rest, but in light of tonight’s opening ceremony, I have another analogy I would like to offer.

    During the parade of nations when a team walks in, the camera pans from the 4 foot gymnast to the 7 foot basketball player. From the pencil-thin marathon runner to the heavyweight boxer. The athletes are all different, with unique talents and abilities. Yet they have a common goal. Beyond just wanting to win a medal, they are here to give their best to represent their country.

    The same is true for Christian writers. We all have different talents and abilities. We write different genres, different styles, different voices. Yet we all write for a goal greater than just winning the publication prize. We write to glorify God and represent Christ to the world.

    Eventually all the gymnasts compete with each other for the medals, just as all the romance writers or chick lit writers compete for those limited publishing spots. Not all will win this year. Some will win in the future. Some will never achieve that medal. Yet if the focus remains on giving our best to represent our God, those cheering us on in the stands will see our heart and be affected, no matter the outcome.

  29. Mark Crumpler on August 8, 2008 at 8:23 AM

    >I like Eric Liddell’s oft quoted line from the movie “Chariots of Fire.” Liddell is trying to explain to his worried sister why he won’t return to China until after the Olympics. Liddell says “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.” I don’t know if all athletes feel that – and I don’t feel it every time I write. But maybe that’s what we’re after . . . to feel God’s pleasure.

  30. Courtney Walsh on August 8, 2008 at 8:23 AM

    >My favorite Olympic sports are gymnastics and ice skating (obviously not in the summer games, however…)

    I think the big eye opener for me is that, much like the Olympics, writing is like a marathon. You can’t win if you’re a sprinter. You have to train and improve and grow and continue to do the same things over and over again in order to get it right. I feel like re-writing a manuscript is the same way. You want to be done with it, but when you go over it again, you see all the places you need to tighten.

    I think it’s similar also in that it’s harder than it looks!! 🙂 I’m anxious to see the games too, though probably only swimming (husband loves swimming) and gymnastics. Have fun watching!

  31. Marla Taviano on August 8, 2008 at 8:01 AM

    >I got nothin’. But we’re excited here too! And we also like swimming, diving, track and gymnastics. I love watching it with my girls (they’re just a couple years younger than yours). Such a wholesome, exciting time of fun and bonding!!

  32. Rosslyn Elliott on August 8, 2008 at 7:53 AM

    >I love the equestrian events for two reasons. First, I was a show jumper when I was a pre-teen, so I understand the sport and enjoy watching it on a very visceral level. When the horse and rider go over the fences, my muscle memory kicks in and I’m there with that rider on the horse.

    The other reason I love equestrian events is because I don’t think any other event in the Olympics includes human partnerships with animals. (I could be wrong; they keep adding new events, but I don’t think dog agility trials have made it!) That human-horse partnership is very humbling. A rider always understands that it is really the horse, not the rider, whose ability wins the gold. A good rider is vital, but if the horse doesn’t have the athletic ability, the best rider in the world can’t win gold.

    I think I could see my relationship with my stories in the same way. Though I have spent many years training to become a good writer, it’s the novel’s story that actually “jumps the fences” of the publishing industry. And any great story is not really its human author’s creation, but a gift from the original storymaker above.

  33. Lisa Jordan on August 8, 2008 at 7:11 AM

    >I wrote a long comment, but my internet connection had a hissy and I lost it, so trying again…

    Writing mirrors the Olympics in that writers and athletes strive for the gold. The gold could be the actual medal, winning a Rita or a Christy, or following his or her heart’s desire.

    Ask any champion, athlete or writer, if he or she stopped training/learning/challenging once he or she won the gold and you’ll hear a resounding “NO!”

    Like athletes, we writers need to hone our craft, stretch our writing abilities, step outside our comfort zones, and make sacrifices to win.

    Winning is defined differently by each person. Some writers consider themselves winners if they touch the hearts of readers. Some writers don’t feel like they’ve won unless they’re holding that statue in their hands. Some writers move beyond the trophies for other goals. Maybe they won a Rita or a Christy or Book of the Year and now they would like to see their books made into a movie.

    Recent headlines tell about athletes who have been barred from Beijing because of their beliefs. We, as Christians, will face persecution at times too and sometimes, we need to take a stand for what we believe, even if it means sacrificing the gold.

  34. Chatty Kelly on August 8, 2008 at 6:59 AM

    >Perserverance! Keep doing it even when you don’t fee like doing it. Practice, work hard, accept coaching!

    Did you finally submit something? A bronze medal for you. Your query gets accepted, that’s a silver. And if you get accepted for publication – a gold medal!

  35. Katy McKenna on August 8, 2008 at 6:52 AM

    >When my oldest son (now 29) was 4, I told him he was going to have the thrill of taking swimming lessons, starting that week. The boy (now a linguist and a brilliant coder) was scared to death of water, all the more reason for lessons.

    He said, “I already know how to swim. I learned it off Sesame Street.”

    I think when I started writing, I thought, “I already know how to write. I learned it by reading.”

    I had no idea the practice it would take before I’d be asked to play on a team! (agent, editor, and me) I still don’t know about the medal thing, but the team thing is amazing for now.

  36. Walt Mussell on August 8, 2008 at 5:46 AM

    >I like the basketball, but what I really enjoy are things like the opening ceremony and learning about the host country. I also have two countries to root for. My wife is Japanese and my kids are dual nationals, meaning we cheer for Japan and the US.

  37. Erastes on August 8, 2008 at 4:50 AM

    >I’m pleased that the time difference from the UK doesn’t mean that I have to fiddle around with the video for the entire schedule like I have to do for Australia and the like.

    It’s the old adage isn’t it?The man asks the tourist office “How do you get to Carnegie hall?” and they say “practice practice practice”

    Writing’s the same. Even if you are naturally talented you need to write and write and write, watch other ‘athletes’ and see how they perform their moves. They won’t move exactly like you, but their timing will inspire you, the way they make their run up, the holds, the rotations – you can learn so much by watching others.

    Don’t be discouraged if it seems like the same few people always end up on the winner’s podium either. For me, I’m happy to be in the “team” – a big and mostly supportive team of other writers. It’s an English thing, perhaps, but it’s the taking part that’s as important (although perhaps I’d like a medal of my own one day!)

  38. Kim Kasch on August 8, 2008 at 1:25 AM

    >I love water sports, but my middle son Luke ran track, so I love track, and my kids all played basketball, so I love basketball and …

    You get the picture – I love ’em all!

    Yipee!!! Let’s go Team America!!!