Hail Mary

Relax. It’s not a religious reference, but rather homage to American Football. For those of you unaware of a Hail Mary Pass, it is an extremely long pass made in desperation that has only a fraction of a chance of success. The pass is usually thrown late in the game when a team offers its last stand in an attempt to win the match. Anyone who has ever seen the Hail Mary Pass thrown will be able to relate to the momentary trepidation that strangles the heart as you watch the spiraling ball in flight, carrying the hopes of the team and its fan base on its pigskin body, usually to no avail.

Yet when a Hail Mary finds its intended receiver the crowd erupts and the entire match spins on an axis and forces the opposition into a play to win situation they hadn’t been anticipating.

So why the football reference? I’m a writer. And let’s be honest, writers aren’t usually great sports people. Yet here I am trying to explain an infamous play in a sport that is foreign to my own country of origin. Well the reason is that right now I feel like I’m standing on my own ten yard line staring at an end zone blocked by my opponents, who will do anything to see me fail. But this isn’t an ordinary end zone. I’m not gunning for a game winning touchdown, I’m eyeing off a far larger dream. On the far side of the field located in front of the grandstands and marching band, is a publishing contract and a life changing moment of triumph.

Right now it’s time out and my opponents are milling around in a loose huddle counting down the minutes until they’ll form a line of scrimmage and attempt to rush me and strip my dreams from my fingers. I say minutes fairly loosely, because the reality of the situation is that my window of opportunity won’t actually appear until eight weeks from now when I touch down in New York City in preparation for my Hail Mary Pass.

Nevertheless I’m using the time afforded me right now to size up my opponents and assess the threats that they pose when they try to blindside me before I break into open ground and race to the end zone.

I can see that arsehole called Finance; the big line backer with the bull-neck and ham-sized fists that grunts as he stares at me. He knows that my money situation is fucked and I’m desperately trying to scrape together any kind of defence I can against the heavyset prick who will attempt to chop me down at the knees.

Beside him is Location; the bastard who has displaced my dreams many times before. He plays dirty and chooses favourites on the field. If he doesn’t like you then he’ll hit you hard at every opportunity; and so some reason the bastard seems to loathe me.

And so the list of my opponents goes on as I run my eyes over the huddle. The other writers are there, arsehole agents too. Fear is smiling and patting self-doubt on the back as they make eyes at me, formulating a plan to hit me simultaneously. But as I stare at the congregation of damned bodies watching me through their helmets and grills, there is only one man who I feel actually has the power to intercept my Hail Mary and destroy the opportunity I’ve worked so hard to create; and he looks a lot like me.

As an aspiring writer my greatest enemy is not the industry, my competitors, publishers, editors, agents, nor my displacement from the larger markets of America and Europe. My greatest enemy is myself, and it always will be. See I’m fairly confident in my abilities as a writer. I wouldn’t have won the competitions I have, or seen my work progress so far through screening processes if there wasn’t some level of skill in what I produce. But I also know that I am a bit of an extroverted introvert sometimes and I just hope and pray that when it comes time to throw that fucking pass and chase down my dreams that I have the balls to give it everything that I have.

It’s a confusing contradiction isn’t it? How can someone be an extroverted introvert? And how can they really hope to ever achieve anything if they can’t figure out something as simple as their own personality traits? Well, the thing is that I am incredibly introverted. I like my own company and tend to shy away from others. I don’t have an abundance of people who are close to me because I don’t want to. But for those that are, I aim to protect them with bloody hands if they ever need it. It’s not that I am necessarily shy though. I used to be. Now I’m the complete opposite. I’m confident as hell in myself and my abilities. But I don’t feel the need to take that confidence and turn it into arrogance by shouting it from the rooftops. I’m your quiet self-assured type that doesn’t feel the need to justify myself to anyone… And there in my own mind, lays my problem when I hit the streets of New York in eight weeks’ time.

I have to justify myself. I have to prove to publishers and agents and that I am worth their time and I have to stifle my own ego no matter how much it tells me to revert back the arrogant arsehole I can sometimes be.

So here I stand waiting for the moment when I’ll throw my Hail Mary Pass and try to score a book deal. The clock is winding down and the arseholes in their huddle before me are watching my every move. Finance is watching as I turn my small change into small fortunes. Location scrutinizes my movements as I book flights and accommodation. The other writers gawk at how I present myself and my scripts laden with ruin and woe. The agents watch as I prepare to slide into the chair opposite them and pitch my fucking heart out. And the man that looks like me stares back with an impassive curiosity, knowing that all of his teammates can be beaten and the only man who can defeat me is myself. He watches and waits, knowing that if I am to succeed I have to learn how to be humble and how to grovel. He watches with a sly smirk that says the game is mine to lose.

I may be a superstar in my own mind, but I still need to prove it to others. In eight weeks time when I throw my Hail Mary I need to do so with as much confidence and bravado as I can muster. But I must also do so with a sense of humility that can sometimes be foreign to me.

Author: Chris Nicholas

Chris Nicholas is an author from Brisbane, Australia. He has published two novels, and is currently working on his third.

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