Saturday, August 14, 2021

As Writers, Let’s not be Sore Losers

by Beth K. Vogt @BethVogt

The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics ended eight days ago. I tuned in for the opening ceremony, as well as gymnastics, sculling, fencing, archery, swimming—a plethora of events. I loved the athletes’ stories most of all.

There is one story I’m still mulling over—and no, it’s not gymnast Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from competition and how she highlighted athletes’ mental health. 

Ben Whittaker, a British boxer, was so upset about winning a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, he refused to wear his medal and cried on the podium. He collected his medal and stuffed it in his pocket, taking it out briefly for photos, but still refused to wear it. 

When the BBC asked him why he was upset, he said, “You don’t win silver. You lose gold. I’m very disappointed. I feel like a failure.” 

Winning a silver medal at the Olympics is failing? For this man, yes, yes, it is.

Perspective is everything, my friends.

I can’t engage Whittaker in a conversation, so let’s talk about us today. How do we receive those less-than-we’d-hoped-for moments in our writing lives?

I’ll go first.

There have been a few occasions when I was focused on that first-place finish above all else. When I didn’t achieve it, I wasn’t immediately thankful being “just” a finalist in a contest. Or for coming in second. Or third. 

You know what that’s called?

Being a sore loser.


That attitude? It’s also being ungrateful for what I did receive—being blind to what I was given. Nothing is guaranteed in this publishing journey. Nothing. The numbers of readers who follow us. Our first—or next—contract. Awards. Sales. 

None of it.

The only thing we can guarantee is how we respond to the lows and highs we encounter along the way. 

We choose whether we view ourselves as losers—like the Olympian who won a silver medal did—or whether we see ourselves as winners. Whether we celebrate our victories—large, small, and miniscule. 

Feeling like a failure? That doesn’t mean you are one. 

If I could have talked to Whittaker, I would have told him to stop crying. To lift his head. To pull the silver medal out of his pocket and wear it because he earned silver—he didn’t lose gold. 

What would you have told him?


Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Having authored nine contemporary romance novels and novellas, The Best We’ve Been, the final book in Beth’s Thatcher Sisters Series with Tyndale House Publishers, releasers May 2020. Other books in the women’s fiction series include Things I Never Told You, which won the 2019 AWSA Award for Contemporary Novel of the Year, and Moments We Forget. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Learn How to Write a Novel and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. Visit Beth at


  1. All writers can use this encouragement, Beth. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Martin. The boxer's story affected me and made me think about how I react to winning and losing in my writing life.

  2. I think just making it to the Olympics puts you in a winner's category. Look at the competition it took to get there and the people who didn't make it. A silver medal would be a beautiful thing to wear and thank God for the abilities He gave.

  3. Barbara, I would agree with you -- and I think most people would. I'm almost certain his coach and maybe his family and friends talked with him about this. But then, we all have our approach to life and competition. His reaction just made me think about mine.

  4. Wow. Here's my thought. For the Olympian, I echo Barbara. For us writers, daring to to put forth our work, either via the trad or indie route, makes us winners. Yes, it's great to final or place at a contest, but it's also dangerous to do so as well (read, that little thing called pride). Daring to use our talents for God's glory should make us winners.

  5. Hi Beth, this is timely for me. It's made me grateful I chose to be thankful for being a finalist in a recent contest. Although I didn't win, I consider it an honor to be receiving a promised critique of my proposal. This is gold to me.
    I would have told the silver medalist that athletes who made it to the Olympics are already winners if they are gracious and thankful.
    Blessings on your Monday, beautiful friend.
    Hugs - Wendy Mac 🕊️