I’m not just a writer, I am also a roller derby referee. This is my second year and sometimes it’s hard to be new among such a well-established team of officiating professionals. And, no, we aren’t getting paid, trust me, no ref is getting rich off of roller derby, but we are professional in spirit and in our practice. For us, it’s not just about officiating, it’s about doing it with excellence. Mediocrity is for chumps.
Our training program includes twice per week classes, scrimmages, and performance feedback from our colleagues. One day, one of my fellow refs with ten years of experience said that although she appreciates feedback, no one is a harder or harsher judge of herself than she is.
She isn’t the first person I’ve met who characterizes herself this way. I do this too. This is the hardest part — I want to be a better ref, but I’m just not there yet. Similarly, as a writer, it’s hard to look into the gaps between what I envision and where I want to be.
Cut to another friend of mine who will tell you that he really doesn’t like refs and that I’m probably the exception to his rule. He likes sports and understands leading people. He believes that even if people are skilled, knowledgeable, and talented, if they lose confidence, that’s it – they’re finished, done.
As always, my thoughts return to my writing practice. How do I evaluate my writing realistically without losing confidence? This is the question I consider on this day of compassion (#1000Speak). It’s so easy in our hypercompetitive world to tell myself to suck it up, work harder, just write better, but scolding only goes so far. I am not its adversary. It’s time to make amends and show my writing that I support and care for it daily, even the difficult times. I am not only its teammate, I’m its one true friend.