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Life on the Deckle Edge

Head down, into the wind

Did you catch any of the US Open tennis championships? I watched several matches, and there were some terrific ones. The Americans couldn’t quite hang in there. I found myself pulling for Rafael Nadal, the amazing young Spaniard, and he deserved that fourth jewel in his grand slam crown. What does this have to do with writing?

What impressed me most about Rafa this season was not just that he’s so much fun to watch on the court, or, as the announcers continually remarked, that he’s the fittest player among the men on the circuit. I paid close attention to his incredible focus and drive. He’s worked very hard to improve his serve, and the numbers (speed and percentages of service points won, etc.) reflect this. As one commentator said, “There are so many ways he can beat you now!”

The image which sticks in my mind from Flushing Meadows is watching him play in the brutal wind which whipped around Arthur Ashe Stadium for days. Even if a ball looked hopelessly out of reach, Nadal tucked his head down and sprinted into the wind, trying to catch it. He didn’t always get the ball. But he brought the same intensity to the chase each time.

Success seems to me to be like that – not always the brilliant stroke on a cloudless day, but the running-head-down-in-the-wind part. The arms that lift the trophy invariably put in countless unseen hours, pounding and practicing, on the court, against a backboard - or at a keyboard.

Thanks for all the great comments on Lola’s interview. Stay tuned to meet more talented, persistent authors who tackle their profession head down, into the wind.
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