Newsletter Signup


Rookie or Rudy?

I love sports movies! Really, I’m fanatical about movies in general, love them almost as much as books, but movies that revolve around sports stand apart as my favorite. The Natural, The Miracle, Eight Men Out, Field of Dreams, Hoosiers, Mystery Alaska, Sandlot, Angels in the Outfield, Raging Bull, Brian’s Song, The Cinderella Man, The Champ, Rocky, A League of Their Own, Major League, Jerry Maguire, Remember the Titans, Seabiscuit. I can go on and on and on. I think what I love most about these movies is the inspirational undertone that they all have in common. But today’s diatribe isn’t about movies, rather just two films in particular and how their message serves as a backdrop to what each of us struggle with.

The first one is The Rookie, a 2002 movie starring Dennis Quaid as an aging high school baseball coach who comes to realize his dream of pitching in the major leagues. The other, Rudy, is a 1993 classic depicting the struggles of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger (played by Sean Astin) to play football for the university of Notre Dame. Both of these films are based on true stories.

I bet you can already see where I’m going with this. You’d be mistaken.

Both of these characters, although from opposite ends of life experiences, had to overcome steep odds to realize their dreams. For Jim Morrison (the actual rookie), it was the fact he was thirty-five years old and been out of baseball for many years. For Rudy, it was both his physical limitations combined with the lack of money and grades to gain entrance to the school he idolized.

As writers, aren’t we in the same position? Each of us faces crushing odds that tell us our chances of actually breaking into the publishing world are slim. Yet we show up to practice every day, running the laps, doing the drills, studying the first stringers, perfecting our technique, preparing, doing everything we can to prove our readiness. Each query letter we send out is a plea, “Put me in coach. I know I can play! Let me prove it to you”

Both of the men in these movies I mention ultimately realized their dream…although in dramatically different fashions. Jim Morrison actually made it into the MLB and spent two seasons pitching for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Rudy played for the University of Notre Dame football team for two plays.

In the end, the key difference between the two stories…skill. Jim Morrison threw a 98 mph fastball (with control), Rudy was only 5’6” and weighed 165 pounds with average speed. Rudy was immortalized for the grit and determination it took to overcome his shortcomings and simply make the roster of one of the premiere college teams in the country. Almost as a by-product, he obtained a valuable college education and became a role model for underdogs everywhere.

I ask myself a question everyday…and I believe that same question tortures a lot of us. Which am I? Rookie or Rudy? Do I have the talent to make it in this industry, or am I merely demonstrating my unstoppable drive and desire. Of course we’re all pursuing the dream of becoming the next Rookie, but what if you’re a Rudy? Would you be satisfied knowing your only accomplishment was making the players around you better? Just brushing against your publishing dream and settling into a comfortable life on the fringe of that world…like say…a popular blogger.

What if my writing legacy turns out to be only a mention in a critique partner’s book dedication?

Can’t worry about that now…I have a game to prepare for! Maybe…just maybe…the coach will have noticed my potential and take a chance on me today. I’ll be ready…whatever happens!


  1. Rookie would be great, but if our purpose in life is to make others' lives better, then Rudy is okay, too.

  2. I could live with being a Rudy too - but I hope we all keep aspiring to be that Rookie! Cause you never know :)

    Great post - again - DL. Love these deep thoughts you're thinking!

  3. You hit on it! And these heroes never gave up. These guys are 95% powered by belief in themselves. That's just as important as skill and talent. Lucky you, DL, you got all three :-)

  4. Such a thought-provoking post! So many ways to view the ideas of 'success' and 'inspiration'. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. I think the key is to never give up...What would you do with your time if you didn't write? I've thought about quiting, but I don't think I can...What would I do?

  6. I love those movies :) My husband and I actually had our first kiss after watching The Natural. (Maybe that's a little weird, but my hubby is a baseball player, so that kinda makes sense.) It's true that there are many people who don't have what it takes. However, you'll never know if you don't try!

  7. That's a really good analogy... Now you have me wondering which I am...

    Although, I'm probably more like Air Bud. I'm kind of hairy and I lick myself a lot.

  8. Great attitude - I think that's the best way to be! Just go with the flow, write because you love it, and let the chips fall where they may!

  9. I liken Rookie to the bigs, NYC pubs, Janet, Nathan, Donald, you know. And Rudy to the small, independant presses, e-pubs where everyone can play.

    It's still the same game, only in different leagues.

    I think, even though I strive for greatness and 5 books on the table, if I only had one pubbed, I could die happy. At least I know I played. And gave it my best shot.

    Great great post DL.

  10. I love tha analogy, and it's definitely something I've wondered about myself. I realized that I could be perfectly content being a perpretual CP/Beta Reader and manuscript/book reviewer, but I'd rather be happier as a published author!

    Great post, DL!

  11. ooh i love sports movies too!

    I hope i end up a rookie, but even if i end up a rudy the point is that i tried

  12. Great post :)

    I think a lot of achieving success is the hard work and dedication you're willing to put into it. Either way, Rookie or Rudy, both followed their dreams and found some accomplishment.

  13. Once again, the King of Analogies speaks true. Way to go, DL.

    We all strive to be the Rookie (It's your turn coach. It's your turn coach...") but I think being a Rudy is wonderful in its own right, too.

    I think Piedmont has a point. The difference between the two is kind of like the difference between the Major Leagues, and Triple A or the Minors. We can all have a chance at playing because at the very least we can always choose to self-publish, thereby putting ourselves into the game.

    One way or another I plan on playing. If I try out for the big leagues and they find they can't use me, I'll go play for a local softball league, have fun and go out for beers afterward. ;)

    (Some of my faves are We Are Marshall, Remember the Titans, Gridlock Gang, The Replacements, & Blindside)

  14. Hopefully you (and I) have a bit of the Rookie and of Rudy in us. Go Team!

  15. Look at this way. If your critique partners (ahem) put you in their dedication, then it’s because YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME.

  16. Being Rookie is what we all aspire to be! To overcome all odds and climb to the top, to not stand on the shoulders of giants but to BE a giant. But being Rudy would be nice too - to have our hard work and our guts celebrated is something that doesn't happen often for writers. Either scenario would be acceptable to me. :) I could live with having a decent-paying writing job and being acknowledged in my critique partners' bestsellers.

    I foresee you being a Rookie all the way. Just keep at it and it will happen for you. Donnn't stoppp ... believin'!

  17. This was a very thought provoking post! I think at the beginning I wouldn't have been satisfied with anything less than major success. But now, as I read the work of friends, and realize just how different everyone is I think I'd be thrilled to even be instrumental in making someone else great. I think my writing friends have a lot better shots at being superstars than I do and that is okay. I'll be the wind beneath their wings. :)

  18. I loved this. I'm like you, movies are right up there with books. The Rookie is one of my favorites, but I never thought of the parallel with writing. Great perspective!

  19. Never saw Rudy, but I loved The Rookie. Hmm, I would say, being a Rudy would be pretty good, show I stuck out my dream and did something with it. Proof I could do it at all. But being a Rookie would be fantastic.

    Either way, I would consider myself a success. Nothing wrong with being the person to inspire those around me. And I will be happy to brag about my friends on my blog, even without being in the acknowledgments. :D

  20. Wow - what a fantastic analogy! I think there are a lot of "Rudy" writers out there who make it just because they never give just takes them a little longer. The one great thing about being a writer is that you don't have to be published to write. As long as you enjoy the writing ride, publication is just a cherry on the top.

  21. What an interesting and compelling analogy! Brilliant.

    I am getting the feeling you have a LOT of CP's out there, and as Sierra said, you are awesome. I'm confident you will be published (a Rookie, if you will) AND see your name in acknowledgment pages.

    All we can do is keep learning and practicing, polishing our craft and ms's until it's ripe and ready to go to market.

    I think I may be more Clueless than Rookie, but that's okay. ;)

  22. We have to believe that we are all Rookies... while living with the fact that some creative minds are never discovered until too late. So my goal has changed from being simply published to being read...

    Enjoying your blog...will be back often!

  23. Amy ~ Thank you. Its nice to know that the things that make me go Hmmmmmmmm, do the same to others as well.

    Sierra ~ The BOOK IS AWESOME! I'll just be a side-note.

    Julie ~ I love your attitude!

    Jaleh ~ You have to rent RUDY this weekend!! I wasn't kidding when I said it was a classic! And your philosophy is awesome!!

    Harold ~ I have to keep telling myself to stop worrying about the destination and enjoy the journey.

    Thanks for tagging on!!

  24. this post is pretty powerful -- it really makes you think for a moment. there's a lot of honor in being a Rudy, but i think i'd rather be a Rookie.

    big sigh.

    but WHO KNOWS?

    we can never know.

    we can only do our best and hope.

  25. Interesting question, DL. I'm not sure how I'd feel if my writing legacy was a mention in someone else's book...but at the same time what an honour! Nice to virtually meet you, anyway. :)

  26. Ha love Field of Dreams but Seabiscuit makes me fall asleep. IDK why. I just put it on and 45 minutes later I'm out. Then I wake up and the ending is playing haha. WIERD! But I hear you DL!

    the thing is that WE enjoy what we DO! And those athletic people do too! They love the game, and I think we love the whole querying game too! It gives you those butterflies and makes you play harder! STAY IN THE GAME!

  27. I'm pretty sure I'm Rudy and that's okay. I'm just really happy and grateful to finally be doing what I love to do. Being a combination of both would be nice though.

    Another thought provoking, fabulous post DL.


    ENJOY and you better make the deadline!!! OR else... Apocalypse! ha no. i have no idea. But I hope this encourages you to stay on track! thanks for joining my CHALLENGE! I'll make sure to mention it!

  29. Now this is a great post! I've never really thought of this, and I would LOVE to be a Rookie, but being a Rudy would be cool, too. But you'll never be either one if you don't put in the effort.

  30. I really like how you used Rudy and Rookie to illustrate sides of the spectrum where are dreams may lead. My hope is that I will be okay with who I am no matter where I end up (as long as I know I did my best at all times). Great post that provoked some really good comments!

  31. Sports movies do have the greatest plots! I love that sense of overcoming the odds.

    Feeling passionate about something is its own reward, so I think it's fine to be a Rudy.

  32. Ideally, I'd like a mix of both. Seems like in writing, you need drive and a bit of talent.

    This post is great (okay, the only sports movie I really liked was the girl's baseball movie with Madonna--A League of their own--don't kill me) but the themes are universal.

    THanks for sharing! And have fun with your gift certificate!

  33. Well written and thought provoking post.

    I guess I'm a Rookie. I must be officially a Rookie. And when it comes to writing, I have definitely had moments of discouragement and wanting to quit that may disqualify me from true Rudyness.

    But I think most of the greatest people in the world, no matter what their fields, have been Rudys. Some achieve and some don't, but they make all of our lives better no matter what, because of their example. If it weren't for the Rudys, none of us would ever make it to be Rookies.

  34. Wow, great post! Im giving my best on the game too =)

  35. Tahereh ~ we can only do our best and hope. Amen!! Thanks for the thoughts!

    Jayne ~ Nice to meet you as well! Couldn't agree with you more! :)

    Lorel ~ I like sports movies because they're usually about overcoming insurmountable odds...and I like that.

    Lydia ~ Its surprising how universal some themes are. Heading to B&N tomorrow. :)

    Rosslyn ~ My very first Rookie responder! Its surprising how narrow the distance is between Rookie and Rudy.

    Clara ~ Good luck!

  36. I love your comparisons to the sport world. The main thing with these two guys is that they did because they wanted to, needed to. That's what's really important, even if the odds are stacked against us.

  37. Loved this post! Sports movies are always so inspirational (Miracles is one of my favorites!) and when they're over I always feel motivated to overcome adversity to reach my writing dreams! It's cool how athletes and writers need similar qualities to achieve their goals!

  38. I think what you said at the end of your post really nails it- "I'll be ready whatever happens"- because that's the only thing we really have control over.

    Very good post.

  39. There's only one way to find out...keep plugging along! I loved "The Rookie" but never saw "Rudy." Can you believe it? I'll have to get it from Netflix.

    Great post! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  40. Heavy thoughts. You make a great observation.

  41. I think in a way they go hand in hand. You need skill and talent, but you need perseverance, grit and determination. Of course as I have seen from experience it is sometimes who you know and where you are and if your project/look/style is right for what is happening in any particular market place. Anyway a combo of both is my answer.

  42. Julie ~ Get Rudy NOW! It is truly a classic and a must see! Enjoy.

    Southpaw ~ Thank you!

  43. You always have the best analogies DL! Now I'm stuck trying to figure out which one I am, and if I'd be happy either way.

    Great post as always :)

  44. I'd love to be the Rookie in this scenario, but I've been a Rudy most of my life and I don't know if that streak's going to break with writing. But, then again, I know that either way, I'll just have to work, try, and persevere. So, Rookie or Rudy, I would guess, is all up to fate and other things I can't control, curse them all.

  45. Great post - again - DL. Love these deep thoughts you're thinking!
    Adsense Alternative

  46. We do our best to write something we hope will be meaningful to someone. But always it must be meaningful to us. We write because we love to write. We don't give up!




Blog Blitz

Design by: The Blog Decorator