Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are You Entitled?

I've been avidly following the figure skating competitions of the 2010 Winter Olympics up in Vancouver, Canada. Thursday the 18th was the free skate contest for the men's figure skating title. American Evan Lysacek won the gold over Russian Yevgeny Plushenko by 1.31 points. Russia, including Putin, have made accusations of injustice and bias.

At the heart of the controversy is how and why Plushenko's undubitably more technically difficult program with minor flubs was trumped by Lysacek's expressive, faultless program with decidedly less wizardry.

To me, this speaks, first of all, to not understanding the changing market (audience) and changing rules (judges), both of which were spelled out well before the contest, but were received differently by the two contesntants and their coaches. You cannot keep hoeing the same row in the same fashion and expect a different harvest.

Also, there's no entitlement. Because you do X, there're no absolutes that you will be rewarded with Y. That may be your desire, but when other people and factors are at play, you may get Z.

Lysacek remarked on Plushenko's statements about the quad, "If it was all about one jump, they'd give us ten seconds to go out and do our jump, not four minutes forty seconds."

Big picture, contestants. Don't lose sight of overall goal while honing one particular sub-goal even though it's spectacular and unique.

The only thing under a contestant's control is focusing on self and product: What can you deliver? How can you improve your craft, your skill, your product? Without reference to who else did what, what did you do with your performance? What new tips have you learned from this experience?

All of this reminds me of grumblings from writers when they receive marks and/or comments from contests and submissions to which they send their work.

Judging, by its very nature, is a subjective exercise and no one is entitled to or owed anything by these strangers. All you can confidently do is your best and hope that the judges' biases don't work against you. If they do, well, there's always the next contest, the next sub.

Does this rip your gut out? Of course, yes! Does this mean, you should rip into the one who has found success? Of course, not!

Look only unto yourself. One contest, one sub doesn't matter. Ultimate goal is being published. Don't lose sight of that.