Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Today, I'd like to talk about the Olympics and a story that spoke to me - so if you haven't seen the Ladies' Free Skate for some reason (my cable decided to die Thursday evening, and it was only last night that the program finally showed up in my On Demand listing), close out this window post-haste.  Here be skating spoilers.

Most of the attention and commentary was on defending Olympic gold medalist Yuna Kim, who was clearly a lovely person with a humanitarian bent and a mature skating style; and on the young athletic Russian phenom, Adelina Sotnikova, who came out of nowhere when the spotlight focused on her younger teammate ... both of whom were trying to make history.  Yuna Kim would have been only the second woman to ever win back-to-back gold medals, while Adelina Sotnikova would be Russia's first gold in women's figure-skating.

But there was one more historical landmark at stake that evening:  27 year old Carolina Kostner of Italy, an Olympic veteran with a painful history of faltering at the key moment - she was ninth in 2006, sixteenth in 2010 - stood a chance to give Italy its first medal in solo figure-skating.  But Kostner's opportunity was also deeply personal.  After the Olympics in 2010, she was defeated and weary; she decided to quit skating.

Her mother and coach, once a figure-skater herself, urged her not to.  She said:  skate for the love of skating.

Sounds so simple, so obvious.  It's almost a cliche.  It's the first advice any artist - and make no mistake, figure-skating is as much an art as a sport - receives when contemplating a life in pursuit of passion.

Yet for Carolina Kostner, it was magic.  She was reborn; she was the World Champion in 2012.  And at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, she performed a flawless short program followed by a triumphant free skate.  As she got off the ice, her mother said to her, "Now do you believe in yourself?"

Adelina Sotnikova might have stunned the crowd with her athleticism; Yuna Kim might have moved them with artistry ... but Carolina Kostner, the bronze medalist and Italy's first solo figure skating medal, showed them love of skating.

I suppose this story speaks to me because, as a writer, I often feel like Kostner.  Publication has been a long trudge with a few bright lights, but my main goal keeps eluding me while writers who have been at it a much shorter time keep racking up their successes, and I start to wonder ... what's wrong with me?

That's not to say I should ignore the fact that there are areas in which I need improvement.  I always try to keep an eye on my faults and work to correct them.  But when I go from submitting and selling back to writing, there's only one thing that matters:  do it for the love of writing.

Thank you, Carolina Kostner.

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