7th Grade Revolution: Willing to Fall

Success. It is a word I hear as a writer quite a bit. Is your book a success? Do you have a successful career? Since today is the launch of 7th Grade Revolution perhaps I should be wondering whether or not it will be a success. But for me, in many ways, it already is. In many respects, 7th Grade Revolution is an ensemble piece and it was the first time I had attempted to write a book about an entire grade. For someone more used to writing from a much more introspective point of view and primarily through one voice, it was a challenge to bring so many characters to the table and let them have their say. We had a lot of fun getting the story down on the page.

Success for some is the number of books they sell. For others it may be how deeply their words touch their readers, or the fanaticism their work invokes. Still others may look at the number of reviews they obtain. We all strive toward this idea of success, but what is it? We each have to decide what success is for us.

For me, success has an element of accomplishment. Did I accomplish what I set out to with the book? First with writing it … did I convey the story I wanted? (Yes!) And once released, is it hitting the readers in the way I thought it would? The sense of accomplishment has a great deal to do with my feelings of success. And the measure of irony to add into the equation, the greater the obstacles overcome on the road, the greater the sense of accomplishment.

Why is that? Why do we feel a greater sense of pride in accomplishing a task that had greater obstacles? In part I think it is because we have proven to ourselves how much we wanted the success. If you fall at the first hurdle and give up, then the desire for the end result must not be so great. But if you’re willing to put everything on the line, and willing to take a tumble, get up, brush yourself off, and strive toward your goal again, then when you do reach your goal it is all the sweeter — though you may still have a few bruises. And so it was in 7th Grade Revolution. A simple moment where the desire to succeed causes James to take measures where he is willing to fall.

     “Let me give it a try. The door must be stuck.” James pulled his blue-green sweater over his head, revealing a pristine, white T-shirt below. He tied his sweater around his waist, did a few arm circles to limber up, then planted his foot on the wall, grabbed the handle and yanked.
     The door budged, but didn’t open.
     Danielle clapped and hooted. “Good job, James.”
     Rhonda raised a finger to her lips. “Remember who might be listening.”
     Danielle covered her mouth with both hands. “Sorry.”
     Rhonda put a hand on Danielle’s shoulder as James readied himself for another try. He put both feet on the wall before pushing the handle down.
     Oh dear, goodness. If the door swung free, he’d end up cracking his head on the concrete. Rhonda hurried closer. James’s muscles bulged and he grunted as he strained to open it.
     Bit by bit the door moved. James kept pulling, and used his legs to give him more power. Then it happened.
     The corner came free and the door swung open. Rhonda put her hands against James’s back to keep him from falling, but the force of his push sent both crashing to the ground.

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