Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Michael Jordan vs. Bruce Bowen

Who else's bracket is completely obliterated (I'm hoping for Butler all the way now; sorry about your Wildcats, Susan)? Last week, I gave some SWAG stats on the likelihood of becoming the literary equivalent of Michael Jordan.

If you don't know who Michael Jeffery Jordan is, you should probably stop reading. Odds are, unless you're an NBA fan (class: non-casual) or a resident of San Antonio, you have no idea who Bruce Bowen is.

Sartorially challenged perhaps, but resilient as a male praying mantis.
Undrafted out of college (corollary: agented, but no bites from publishers), Mr. Bowen played a couple of years in France and the CBA (corollary: dropped by his original agent, he published with small presses, minimal market exposure). The next year, he signed a 10 day contract w/ the Miami Heat. He played 1 minute in 1 game before being let go (corollary: fancy-pants magazine buys a story, but then decides not to publish it).

The following season, his fortunes began to change (corollary: still honing his skills, a big-house agent saw something she liked and signed him). He bounced around for a couple of years as an NBA benchwarmer, but he was still in the quasi-public spotlight (corollary: mid-list, but some people actually might recognize the name). Then he caught on with the San Antonio Spurs (corollary: one of the major publishing houses). In the years from graduation, he had developed his platform (defense) and became a key player in San Antonio's championship success over the next half-dozen years (corollary: his books showed on the front shelves of bookstores, garnered good reviews, and generated strong sales). And now he's a talking head on ESPN (corollary: hot shot author speaking at major conferences)

So, what's the difference between Mr. Jordan and Mr. Bowen? They both had talent and they both worked hard for success, but early on in their careers, BB was toiling anonymously in France while MJ was making commercials w/ Spike Lee.

Most of us won't/can't be Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, etc., but that doesn't mean success can't be had. Talent isn't the only variable in the equation. Be willing to develop and adapt your game. You probably won't be able to buy your own NBA team (corollary: publishing house) like MJ just did, but one day you might have a shot at wearing a bowtie on TV.


Anita Saxena said...

Love the corollaries! Ha Ha

Anita Saxena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L. T. Host said...

Thanks for the comparisons, much appreciated :)

I admit that I often hope for hard work to make up for any lack of talent/ luck I might have. I guess we'll see!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I stopped mourning my bracket last week. It's really beyond dead.

I'm really going to try hard to never intentionally wear a bow-tie, but in spite of that, success is truly had by those that lay down some serious effort. The relentless pursuit doesn't guarantee results, but it certainly improves the odds.

And those odds seem daunting many days. But there is more than one path to success, as you say, and I think the possibilities are mostly limited by our imagination. But I'm kinda optimistic that way.

Great post!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Wow. I think 3/4 of your post went over my head. Sports and I are like oil and water. Or chocolate and pepperoni. We just don't go well together.

That said, writing is hard work! I just tell myself I have to keep plugging away and one day I'll see my book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Susan R. Mills said...

Yep, my bracket is completely shot. I'm over that, but I'm not quite over the K-State loss. Thanks for consoling me, but it will take time. :) These are great corollaries. Gives us all hope.

Libbie H. said...

Personally, I'm not even sure talent exists. Or if it does, it's functionally irrelevant.

What's the difference, from a reader's perspective -- or from an editor's or agent's -- between a writer who is naturally talented and one who's worked so hard that she writes just as well as -- or better than -- a naturally gifted writer?

I think those who want it badly enough that they're willing to work for it with steady discipline and with focus WILL get it. :D

Joshua McCune said...

Susan, I've got no horses left in the race -- now it's just an ABD tournament for me (Anybody But Duke :)

SD, this'll be the last sports one for awhile :)

Susan, definitely didn't see it coming. Dead legs from the game against Xavier, I guess.

Libbie, talent's definitely more subjective and less quantifiable in the right-brained arena, but I still think there is some to be had. Hard work matters (and even the 'talented' ones work hard, otherwise they become Kwame Brown). A whole lot of luck doesn't hurt either.