I was born into a family full of sports fanatics. Thus, I grew up loving basketball, football and tennis, to name a few.

I never fail to find some kind of lesson I've learned in a game that I can apply to the life of writing. In fact, I find some sports are full of artistic patterns; that pass Bryant made to Gasol, Gasol's spin move to the basket--PURE POETRY!!!

Last night, after losing game 4 in overtime, the Orlando Magics coach said that he's tired of hearing about experience being a factor in these final games. "Experience is a cliche," he said!

On one hand, I see his point. Experience isn't enough to make a team great. Other factors such as character, health, referees (or the lack thereof, such as in last night's game), coaching, court (being home vs. being away), etc.--all these things and so many more are factors of winning. So I see his point...

And then, I have to disagree.

Last night, against all odds, the Lakers won the game in overtime. We *should not have won* and I know that sounds like an insult to my home team but it isn't. It's really the highest praise.

Experience comes not because the Lakers happen to be one of the best NBA teams in the history of professional basketball. Experience came last night when the Lakers showed that they would not doubt themselves, they would not give up in the last quarter, in the last minute of overtime.

Likewise, the experience of a writer does not come from external factors: attending conferences, going to school and getting degrees in creative writing, networking with some of the best writers, talking about writing, joining critique groups, etc. Yes, all of these elements are very helpful but they don't guarantee a win for the writer.

Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers says it best in her essay from The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction:

"Experience isn't something you go and get--it's a gift and the only prerequisite for receiving it is that you be open to it." Last night, the Lakers were open to the possibility that they still had a chance to take the game. They didn't give up on themselves.

LeGuin goes on to say that writers should be less concerned about their external influences and more focused on their internal drive. "Know your own soul. Know your mind and heart. This knowledge is not lightly or easily gained but you must learn the landscape of your being. Write with imagination, which is your tool, and plow your own soul. Write from inside, from as deep inside as you can get by using all your strength and courage and intelligence."

She says, "That is where great books come from. The novelist writes from inside. What happens to him outside, during most of his life, doesn't really matter."

In other words, if experience is the teacher, then you ARE the principal, the dean, the president of all the knowledge that affords you to be a winner at writing. Very little outside of you matters.

That's the look I saw in Derek Fisher's eyes when he made not one but two crucial 3-point shots. Nothing outside of you matters. Reach deep within and know that you can win against all odds.

No one is interested in giving you anything in this world. You have to take it and that starts first with pushing yourself beyond the limits that appear in your path.
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