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Shine Theory

So I may have mentioned a few weeks ago that I love the Olympics.  They can be examples of some of the most beautiful human moments – and not just the victories.  From the two runners who became iconic for helping one another across the finish line to the swimmer who gushed excitedly (in Chinese) after missing out on the medals because she’d just gotten a personal best to the teenage American hurdler who said with extreme poise when she missed out on the finals that this was just the end of her season, not the end of her career.   Our greatest strength of character is often revealed when we are tested with failures rather than greeted with victory.

Writers have to have a lot of that kind of strength of character.  We deal with a lot of rejection.

I wrote a few weeks ago here about how writing is like the Olympics, but that was before I saw this article in New York magazine about “Shine Theory” and the Olympic athletes and I realized that the Romance Writing Community is a perfect example of that powerful and positive theory.

Now I think Shine Theory may be something made up by this journalist and her friends because I’ve found no independent scientific reference to it in my searching of The Google, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome.  The basis for it seems to be the idea that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine” wherein women (and I’m gonna add men and just say people, cuz I like inclusiveness) support one another and invest in one another’s success.

In romance, I’ve often heard the phrase “A rising tide raises all ships.”  We all want more romance readers.  And we all know that romance readers are voracious.  I’ve never met anyone who read an amazing romance and said, “That’s it.  I’m done. No more reading.”  Nope.  Readers want MORE when they find books they love.  More from that author and then more like that author and then more in general.  We’re addicted to that sigh-worthy feeling at the end of a great book – and we want to pass that feeling along.  And so romance has always been, in my humble opinion, one of the most supportive industries we can be a part of. 

Yes, we all have to deal with rejection, but we have teams of fellow writers – like the Rubies, RWA Chapters, and critique groups – to bolster us up and keep us going.  To keep encouraging us to put good work into the world.  To remind us never to give up – even if we’ve fallen down on the track and twisted our knees.

There is an incredible camaraderie in romance writing, and I always feel privileged to be part of a community where the instinct is to band together and give one another a boost.

I was watching the women’s high jump last week (because my oldest nephew is a high jumper and I have become rather passionate about the sport) and I saw another moment that stuck with me.  The youngest member of the US team failed to clear the bar on her final attempt and another competitor from her team who was still in the competition, a four-time Olympian who had never won any medals, took time away from her own jump preparation to go hug the young athlete and bolster her up after her elimination.  Later, that same four-time Olympian lost to another high jumper she’d been competing against for over a decade – and they hugged.  She put aside her own disappointment and was happy for her friend and competitor for finally taking home the gold, the dream they had both been chasing.  It was a moment of incredible grace.  A Shine moment.

Let’s shine together.

Have you seen moments like that in life, sports, or writing?

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