Monday, November 10, 2014

Labor In Obscurity

I love it when kids use their imaginations. After a big sporting event like the Olympics or the World Series or the NBA Championship you may catch them shooting the game-winning shot at the buzzer or hitting a homer out of the park to clinch the title. What they fail to take into account is that the glory of victory is preceded by hours of hard preparation in obscurity.

But we adults are sometimes guilty of the same thing. Here’s what I mean.

When people learn I’m a writer of children’s books some will say, “I’d like to write a book someday” but that’s not what they really mean. Writing is hard work. It takes time, lots of time alone in front of a sometimes blank computer screen. And that’s just for the first draft. By draft seven or eight I don’t want to read the thing again…ever. But after a year…maybe two, when I think the story is ready to toddle off my desk into the hands of another reader, I submit it to my critique group and they rip it apart…alas. And it’s back to the literary drawing board.

No. When someone says they want to write a book what they usually mean is they want to HAVE WRITTEN a book.

So many things in life are like this. Financial security during the retirement is a good example. It takes many years of disciplined saving to achieve it. Well-behaved children is another. My goodness, one must be painfully consistent at home so that when the kids are out in public other adults actually enjoy being around them. Here’s one more. My son is running his first marathon on December 14. He will be running with 1,500 other marathoners on that day. But in training for the 26.2 mile event he will have already run 300 miles all alone.

Whether writing a book or training for a marathon laboring in obscurity is essential before one can experience the thrill of victory. But experience it we can as long as we are willing to labor in obscurity first.

My son is an inspiration to me. So much so that someday I’d like to run a marathon, too. Or perhaps I simply would like to have run one…


  1. Was searching for the use of the term, "laboring in obscurity" and found your blog. You write very well. I hope some day you get published, if you haven't already since this post is some years old.
    Pam Baker

    1. Pam,
      You are right. It's been a while since I clamored up the ladder into the Tree House. Your visit encourages me to dust out the cob webs. Thanks.