Flop


One of my extracurricular activities when I was in high school was Track. To be honest, I didn’t actually arrive there willingly. Our schools Football coach felt it should be a requirement that all of his players run Track in the spring if you wanted to play for him in the fall. I don’t know if there was some kind of collusion going on between him and the track coach, or he just wanted his players to stay active during the offseason, or he got his giggles by seeing three hundred pound linebackers wearing those flimsy track shorts, but whatever the reason -- there I was. Fleetness of foot wasn’t part of my DNA makeup back then (or has it ever been), so I tended to gravitate towards the longer distances…the two mile becoming my specialty. But there was another event that I was inexplicably drawn to, one that made absolutely no sense and the idea of me doing it was like a Chihuahua trying to make out with a Great Dane. The activity…High Jump.

My first year in track, my junior year, I was only 5’6” tall (I’ve only grown 3 inches since). Because of my height I knew I wasn’t going to win any medals, but we were required to participate in at least one running event and one field event, and the high jump really intrigued me. And what interested me the most was watching the other kids experiment with this new style of jumping called the Fosbury Flop.



Dick Fosbury had brought fame to his new style of high-jumping just five years before then at the 1968 Summer Olympics and now jumpers all over the world were trying to emulate his technique…including myself.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Bear with me.

What’s interesting to note was that Dick Fosbury first started experimenting with a new high jumping technique at age 16, while attending high school in Medford, Oregon, but it wasn’t until his senior year in high school that he had perfected it enough to yield measurable improvements. His early efforts were nowhere near as coordinated as a well-performed straddle method jump, and one historian referred to Fosbury's early attempts as an 'airborne seizure', but during the latter part of his sophomore year and the beginning of his junior year, it began to produce results, and he gradually was able to clear higher jumps. Fosbury continued to refine his technique into college and ultimately had its coming out in the Olympics. The technique gained the name the "Fosbury Flop" after a reporter for a Medford newspaper wrote that he looked like a, "fish flopping in a boat", but it could also be argued that Fosbury’s early efforts were just that…a flop. But determination and perseverance proved otherwise.

You see my point now, don’t you? How many times have we been told that -- there aren’t any new stories, just new ways to tell them? Dick Fosbury found a new way to jump, but it didn’t happen overnight and required A LOT of experimentation before he got there. We are all searching for new ways to tell stories…with a fresh voice…but we have to be both patient and persistent.

My best jump in high school reached 5’6”, earning me 3rd place in one meet and much needed points for my team. I consider that one of the greatest physical achievements of my life. I flopped…and that was a good thing. As far as my writing goes, I am an evolving work in progress striving to perfect my technique and yield measurable results. I hope one day soon to flop again…and that will be a good thing as well. :)

In case you hadn't heard the news yet, this week we added  Diane Dalton, Managing Editor of Rhemalda Publishing as one our final round judges for WRiTE CLUB.  There are only two weeks left to send in submissions, so please help spread the word.

34 comments

  1. That's a great analogy to what we have to do with our writing. I'd never make the track team though, no matter how much I persisted.

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  2. "airborne seizure"--lol

    Yay for adding another judge!

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  3. I wish you a great flopping success!!! And is that pic of you flopping?

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  4. I really like that analogy. Better than just saying you have to be persistent.

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  5. I flopped on the ground a lot as a youngster... too much hops and yeast :)

    Thanks for a fresh take on an evergreen issue for all writers :)

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  6. And you have to wonder how he ever came up with the idea of jumping backwards.

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  7. Nice post, DL - and may you flop very soon! :D

    I do like the idea that not all stories have been told before. :)

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  8. I wonder what made him try in the first place? Maybe he saw a whole bunch of other jumps out there and just knew he could do it better.

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  9. Just goes to show that practice makes pretty good.

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  10. I think this is also a great example of taking risks, experimenting, and going against the grain. Sometimes, you just gotta do your own thing and stick it to the naysayers. (:

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  11. semi Off topic - i think you might like Stupid Fast, which is a YA book about a kid who realizes he can run really fast and so he joins the football team. There's some heavy themes regarding mental illness and other stuff, but man, the parts where he's running track or playing football are awesome

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  12. Awesome. I ran the 800 meter and threw shotput until being given and inhaler for exercise induced asthma then resorted to biking & swimming. This life is about figuring out how to adapt, and then how to mold the world around us--and as writers, we better be able to do both, eh?

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  13. We must first flop before we can succeed.

    I was a distance runner, too. I just couldn't run fast enough to be competitive at anything under one mile.

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  14. There's always something new if you can learn to see things with a new perspective.

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  15. Great analogy as always. I know you'll have that literary Fosbury Flop - keep at it!

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  16. Loved this. Nothing like a good flop to keep you going.

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  17. Great analogy :) I tried joining the long-distance running team ... quit when they asked us to run 5 miles on the first day. I am sooooo not a runner!

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  18. As someone who used to be big into track (now I'm just big lol!!) I didn't know the history of the high jump technique I saw people using. I thought it had always been done that way.

    I appreciate this analogy. In a lot of ways, it takes a lot of flops to get to the right flop that scores high points. And, the flop is still a jump, just a different kind, just as a trope is a trope, just a different way of going about executing the story.

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  19. I've always thought that move looked fun to do. I'm trying to talk my son into running track next year. Looks like I'll need to motivate him somehow.

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  20. I like your spin on the notion that aren't any new stories, just new ways to tell them.

    I wanted to let you know that you are the winner of the second place prize in my give away. You won a manuscript coaching session with Larry Brooks. Congratulations and thanks for participating.

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  21. I taught my students how to flop a few weeks ago - some of them are pretty good! :)
    Love the analogy! So true - we have to have trust and patience as we're working our butts off! :)

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  22. I experience lots of "airborne seizures" LOL
    I love the positive spin on the word "flop"!
    Writer In Transit

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  23. Sometimes flopping is a good thing :)

    I'm still perfecting my writing technique too. I don't suppose I'll ever be olympic ready, but perhaps I can find a comfort zone that satisfy's me.

    .......dhole

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  24. Great analogy, DL. Thinking outside the box, doing things differently than what everyone else is doing no matter what they think, could be the key to success. Here's to flopping!

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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  25. It takes courage to experiment and find what works, because there is that risk that what we try results in a flop and ridicule. You really do need guts to push on with your experiments.

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  26. Here's to all of us flopping on our writing. :) Great post!

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  27. You're a busy man! I hope you flop with style and great results!

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  28. Hail the Flop! This was a great post about endurance and patience.

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  29. As always, wishing you the best, including flopping when needed! D Good job with this post, as always.

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  30. Good job practicing what you preach...ie...new way to tell an old story. Dick 'Flop' Fosbury would be proud. I remember the 1968 Olympics and Dicks debut Flopping, even though I was more into the US vs Japan Volleyball matches for world domination. That was an eventful and memorable Olympics with lots of controversy in Track and Field. Made for lots of New News...thanks for bring back the memories in a memorable and New Way!

    Sue CollectInTexasGal~Today's Post~
    Tombstone Tuesday...Chester's Stone Stump Still Standing

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  31. Great post! I read the title and expected something else. I love the positive spin on the flop! :)

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  32. Love this post about patience and persistence. It's hard to believe high jumpers didn't start out leaping backwards over the bar like Fosbury did. Maybe someday writers will say something similar about you. "It's hard to believe we used to do it that way, before DL Hammons started...."

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