As Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers approaches, mere hours away — I turn to thoughts about writing. The reason this game, and more specifically the Celtics being in it, makes me think about writing is because the Celtics have no business being involved in this game at this late stage of the playoffs. Much has been written about this by the sports world already (see this post by Bill Simmons as a great example), so I’ll just say — they’re missing their two best players, and their leading scorer is a rookie, and twenty years old. So, hence, they have no business being in this game.
But of course they do — because they’ve earned their place. Their play, their execution, their attitude, their tenacity has brought them to this spot. As a story, the Celtic’s youth and inexperience is a great story of underdogs winning against the odds — but as far as the scoreboard is concerned, their inexperience and youth are irrelevant. The Celtics either put up more points then the other team, or they don’t. And for the purposes of this blog post, their age, youth, and how they are defined by or described by observers is irrelevant.
It’s the fact that they’ve earned their spot here that’s exciting. It doesn’t matter “who” they are. It matters how well they play. And this is why it makes me think of writing, and being a writer.
As writers, we face so many obstacles, perceived and real. But none of it matters if you execute on the page. Put the right words on the page, in the right order, and it doesn’t matter “who” you are. Lack of experience, the long odds of succeeding, background, gender, ethnicity, it will all become irrelevant if your words make the reader turn the page. I’m not saying some people don’t start off with advantages, but in the end, the words on the page are all that matter. Yes, who you are might make a great story of an underdog succeeding against the odds, but ultimately, that story will be wonderfully irrelevant because you’ve earned your place. And you’ve earned it because of the words you’ve put on the page.
Photograph: Venice Beach Sunset