The Captain's Mast

Captain's mast
A disciplinary hearing during which the commanding officer of a naval unit studies and disposes of cases against the enlisted personnel in the unit.

    The Captain's Mast is a chance for our fearless leader to put in his two cents about what is coming into our inbox.  The job of any good captain is first and foremost to keep his ship afloat, some times that means patting you on the back for a job well done, some times it means having someone walk the plank.  Either way this is his place to do that.   As you can see from the definition, a captain's mast is usually not a good thing, but since this will be a public airing, we hope to bring you some of the good along with the bad.  You will laugh you will cry, you may even walk the plank but we think it will be worth your time to pay attention.

On paying the price of victory...

posted Jun 24, 2010, 7:50 AM by Zachary Ricks

If you're familiar with some of the content I've been putting out this year, there's been a couple of themes I keep hitting on. Today, I want to talk about one in particular - the price of victory.

Success in any venture requires that you pay a price. One of my favorite quotes refers to Bruce Lee. "Don't expect Bruce Lee like results, unless you're willing to put in Bruce Lee like hours to obtain them." - Ted Won. If you've ever seen one of Bruce's movies, you have an idea of what's being referred to. Bruce Lee practiced all the time. He was always working on improving his martial arts, on making his practice more efficient, on making his methods more effective.

He was a martial artist. I’m a writer. Am I putting forth Bruce Lee-like effort in my writing? Honestly, no. That quote is a kick in the butt whenever I see it. It’s motivating. It can be depressing, when you think of it in the wrong way.

“But… but he’s BRUCE LEE! And I’m… I’m not.” That's true, you're not Bruce Lee. So what?

Bruce Lee didn’t start out as a philosopher, martial artist, and action movie star. It took him time to get there. The one thing you have in common with Bruce Lee? You have time in which you can develop your talents, and your passion. And you have a great advantage over Bruce Lee in that you are still alive. No matter where you are in your skills, in your passion, in your efforts, you can improve. Bruce can inspire and educate, but he can’t improve. And while Bruce Lee may have been a martial arts superstar, I don't know if I would have published his fiction. The lesson to take is, the way you pursue your career - be it writing or anything else - needs to be the way Bruce pursued his. He found something he felt passionate about, and he worked. He gave it his all.

Too often, rather than seeing people attempt to improve, I see people sabotaging their own efforts. We’ve all done that at one time or another. We take counsel of our fears, and wind up selling ourselves short by holding back, by not writing as well as we know how. By not taking the time to revise and rewrite and present the best work we have. Because we're scared that we'll have put all that work into it, poured a piece of ourselves into it, and that we'll be rejected. We're scared that by having our work rejected, it means that we ourselves aren't worthy of success.

That voice? The one that's telling you that YOU aren't good enough? That voice isn't your friend. Stop listening to it. Exercise a little faith. Look at the submission guidelines - they're not that complex, and they're not that hard. You can get over that bar. Then write something that fits those guidelines. Revise and rewrite. Step back and take as objective a look at it as you can. Read it out loud. Have someone read it to you - out loud. And take what doesn't work, fix it, or toss it, and make it the best thing you possibly can. Then, send it in.

And we'll talk. Maybe I won't like it, but if that's the case, I'll point out why and give you some feedback for next time. Maybe I will like it, but it's not right for our publication for whatever reason.

You know, there's always the chance that I'll buy it, and people will read it, or hear it, and pass it on to their friends. And they'll love it, and start looking for more of your stuff - or asking us for more of your stuff.

And THAT is a victory worth fighting for.

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