It’s the end of another hockey season. My team made it to the finals but lost the Grand Final against their main rivals throughout the season, which is exactly what happened last year. But this year felt different to me. Last year, losing that last game was absolutely heart-breaking — I could hardly bear to watch it. This year, I gave a cheerful shrug and patted a few friends on the back, sad to see the season go, but happy to have experienced it.
The difference was a realisation I had sometime in the last year, to do with hockey, but also to do with my writing. The realisation was this: The Goodall Cup is what every hockey player is aiming for, but that’s not why they’re here. That’s not why they give up every weekend for a job they don’t get paid for, that’s not why they leave their families overseas or commute vast distances to attend practice twice a week. They’re not here to lift a trophy, because if they were, eight (seven this year) teams worth of players would leave having wasted a great deal of time.
The reason they give up their winters every year is to play hockey. Every player who shows up, whether they play for the Sydney Ice Dogs or the Canberra Knights, is doing what he loves to do. They’re already living the dream, and they don’t need a pretty trophy to prove that.
I’m a fan and I wanted my team to win, but I don’t show up at the rink each week for that reason alone. I’m there to watch hockey. Win or lose, I’m there to see the game I love.
This time last year, while watching my team come just short of winning the Goodall Cup, I was also submitting a novel to agents. I’d worked on this novel for a year and a half at that stage, and upon receiving a revision request, would work on it for six months more. That novel didn’t end up getting me an agent — I had lots of reasons to hope, but none ended up getting me over the line. And I’ll admit, I was heart-broken. Shattered. Cast adrift.
But this year I’m revising another novel, and things feel different. At some point over the last year I realised the reason I spend hours each week — late nights, mornings, weekends and lunch breaks — writing and working on my craft isn’t to get an agent. It isn’t to publish a book or win some sort of invisible trophy. If it was, I would have given up years ago.
Those things are pretty goals, and I still want to achieve them, but they’re not the reason I do it. I write because I love to write. I’m already living the dream.
The work is its own reward. We only fail when we lose sight of that.