I have a thing for underdogs. I love the unsung hero, the unexpected challenger, the dark horse. Whenever I read a book or watch a movie, it's usually the minor characters that interest me most.
I always wanted to know more about Dickon in the Secret Garden, or what Melanie thought about Ashley and Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. I asked myself how Jane Fairfax dealt with her secret engagement to Frank Churchill, and what kind of man Renfield was before Dracula took over his mind. I wanted to know why Maleficent was so offended by not being invited to Aurora's christening (and where did she get that funky headdress)?
Then there's Cinderella, of course... the reason I wrote PPP. What was her fairy godmother like? Did she have hopes and dreams of her own, and if so, was it hard to have to put other people's wishes first?
My attraction to the underdog is even more obvious during the Olympics. I LOVE stories of people rising from difficult circumstances to sprint past the favorite and grab gold. I love it when people accomplish things not only beyond the expectations of others, but beyond their own. I love when people who are never in the spotlight - and maybe never sought it or quite belonged in it - can grab it for just one astonishing moment.
Over the past week, I've read so many brilliant blog posts comparing the pursuit of publication to the Olympics. I love the lessons that other writers have gleaned.
As for me, I've learned that I feel a kinship with the underdogs. I've seen too many favorites crack under the weight of pressure, of having to perform every. Single. Time.
So it's okay to get query rejections. It's okay to not achieve the word count goal you laid out. It's okay to not have an agent or a book deal by the designated time you hoped you'd have one. It's okay to fail sometimes.
Because when we do end up getting there - the finish line, the other end of the pool, the other side of the high jump bar - our medals will seem all the brighter for how hard we worked to get them.
If you're an underdog like me, embrace it. It's so much more fun when we one day put on that last burst of speed and heads swivel and jaws drop.
What do you think? Would you rather be the favorite or the dark horse?
FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (FOTL) (Novel, YA Epic Fantasy) An exiled princess searches for the five elements she needs to win the allegiance of the dragons and reclaim her kingdom from the grasp of an evil empress.