Saturday, February 18, 2012


JAN BROGAN: How weird is the world, when my husband, an investment banker, and I, a writer, can use the same metaphor? Not as weird as you might think.

Especially if you've been following the story of Jeremy Lin. Here's what my husband said in his investment newsletter.

"Even if you are not a sports fan, Jeremy's story is inspiring. An excellent high school basketball player in Palo Alto, he was written off ( too small, too slow etc...) as having no real future in basketball. Stanford, the revered talent incubator had no interest, even though Jeremy's high school was across the street. He ended up at Harvard with no scholarship where he played ball for the love of the game. Upon graduating (econ major) he wasn't drafted by any NBA team. He eventually signed with the Golden State Warriors where he warmed the bench and was quickly cut. He moved to the Houston Rockets and was cut before the season started. He then signed with the NY Knicks who sent him down to the D (minor) league. Not having his own apartment, he was sleeping on a friends couch. Then came his chance, a rash of injuries to Knick starters and Jeremy takes to the floor in Madison Square Garden. Six games later he is an international star, scoring more than any other player in the modern era of professional basketball in his first six games - any other player. Jeremy Lin is currently looking for an apartment in New York! So as you step up to the line and give your 50th power point presentation of the month to a group of yawning investors remember Jeremy Lin. Practice does make perfect."

And this is what I say: Jeremy Lin is the perfect model for novelists, who suffer all sorts of rejection and setbacks, but must plug on. He's the try, try, and try again story. Also a pretty good model for the characters we write, who need all sorts of obstacles if they are going to have any kind of story at all.

Writers: Have you been paying attention to Linsanity as the success-against-all-obstacles has been called? Are you inspired by it?

And come back tomorrow when I talk about how I overcame a twenty year plane phobia and will be talking a little about how I did it, and giving away a free DVD that helps explains it.


Lucy Burdette said...

I love this story Jan--both my hub and I following it too. It's Cinderella...Hoosiers...Friday Night Lights...Little Miss Sunshine...I'm sure you guys could think of tons more. It's all those literary agents and editors who pass on what you believe is a great book, and then you sell it at auction. (THE HELP was this kind of story.)

Sherry Isaac said...

You gotta believe, that's all there is to it. So many success stories include that reflection. Jim Carrey always believed he would make it, Stephen King, and countless other everyday people who never become famous but overcome strife and obstacles.

Thanks for the reminder, and the inspiration.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, yes, Jan! My husband and I aren't sports fans, but we've been following the Jeremy Lin story because it's not a sports story--it's the quintessential hero's journey. And I agree that he ought to be the writer's symbol or mascot or something because we live that same story--try and fail, try again and fail,... try one last time and win.

Deb said...

Even, the most unsporting of us, know about Jeremy Lin, and am fascinated. Think Secretariat, in human form:-) It is the metaphorical success story, and what I love most about is that he didn't keep playing basketball because he wanted to be "famous", but because he loved it.

Jan Brogan said...

I didn' tknow that, but you are right, that is the BEST thing and a lesson for us all. It's amazing what the human spirit can do.

Jan Brogan said...

Is anyone else having trouble leaving comments? I'm not sure if it's Blogger or my IPAD.

Typing coming up blank sometimes?

Hallie Ephron said...

Don't we all love stories like this! Rocky. The Little Engine that Could. The Ugly Duckling (I'm a swan!). Pip in Great Expectations.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Yup, love it. And with a Harvard grad husband it's especially fun. It's great when the system is proved wrong.

(And Hallie, I can't tell you how life-changing the Ugly Duckling was for me.)

lil Gluckstern said...

I find your comments very moving, just as I find Lin exciting, and his story inspiring. Sometimes, if you hang in there, it works, and then it is beautiful. And Hank, you are a Swan, absolutely.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Oh, yes, Hank! You are Swan of Swans!

Reine said...

His name is synonymous with the growth of the basketball program at Harvard, a place that has given many talented, yet unrecognized people, opportunity.

I would only add to this wonderful story - that I fully subscribe to - that Jeremy Lin put his religious faith first. He has always maintained that his future was not in his own hands and that his job was to give his all to whatever was given him.

I think that's a great theology, or philosophy if you prefer. It's one I embrace myself, because the path can change radically and suddenly, and if a person cannot move with it they will lose opportunity.

When my disability became extreme and I had to leave my doctoral program and my administrative and faculty positions at Harvard, I immediately started to look for the next new opportunity. That's the only way I see to survive. xox

Jungle Red Writers said...


That is an inspiration to us all.


Reine said...

Jan, that's lucky for me then, to have all of you here, because writing is what seems to be presenting itself to me now!

I won't go so far as to say that misfortune has been my good fortune. I'm not that kind of religious. What I am, though, is a believer in forging a new path if the old one is buried in a landslide. The same talent will get the work done.

The topic of my senior divinity paper for Harvard was a theology of service, much like Jeremy's, in that my job (the service I perform in life) is to do what I am given - through talent and opportunity. To ignore would be unthinkable, as much as trying to force my will on the universe would be.


Linda Rodriguez said...

Reine, I hear you. I spent many years running a women's center, putting in 75-80-hour weeks. I loved my work. Still get stopped by women in the store or mall who say "You changed my life!" How seductive is that! ;-)

But once I developed lupus and fibromyalgia (on top of surgical reconstruction of my back), I had to leave because I couldn't do that high-stress, long-hours work any longer. Depression set in that only my long-loved writing helped.

I do say it was for the best because I'm now living the life of a full-time (if fiscally poor)writer that I always wanted to live, from which the need to support children, etc., had diverted me.

lil Gluckstern said...

Oh Reine and Linda and all the rest of you people who endure, how important is to me that you continue to find new ways of living. I ran a good private practice for years, and then, HMO's came around, and my health fell apart. I still soldiered on, through a heart attack, and breast cancer, diabetes, but I figure to go out fighting. I've had to slow down a bit which leaves me more free to read, and do handwork which i have always loved, and explore the Internet. I'm a relative newcomer to Facebook, and these blogs but, boy do they, and you all make a difference in my life.

Reine said...

Does anyone else remember point guard Muggsy Bogues, at 5'3" the shortest player ever in the NBA?

Linda, that's the way I feel. I'm glad to be where I am. I discovered there is another way to live that I enjoy. I don't have to be on top to be happy. I can relax and be productive. That's big, that last one. Also huge was discovering fiction.

To all who write, read, and comment here that may sound strange, so I'll explain. I was absorbed by the academic world. It served me well, and I gave back. Fiction, mysteries and romance, opened my heart. It introduced me to a new way of understanding and a way of writing that absorbs and fascinates me.

Lil, I love that you are on Facebook and that we are friends there.


Anonymous said...

Does my Beantown buddy really post a positive blog on a NY athlete when I'm half a world away and not likely to see it??? In Dar es Salaam now at a hotel having an all night partym (Mgr said 11-7 and we thought he meant 7-11. They're shreiking through a Whitney Houston tribute now at 4am.
YES!! Linsanity!! NY hasn't been this energized about basketball since the Ewing days Perseverance baby!! Muggsy Bogues...too funny. Also Nate Tiny Archibald.

Reine said...

You are in Dar es Salaam now? Really? at a party? Pulling an all-nighter? How honored am I, Red Sox slut, however I may be!

Deb Romano said...


Sounds like you and I have some things in common physically. I've had the surgical reconstruction of my lumbar spine (twice,because for some unknown reason,the back stopped healing a few months after the first surgery. I had no risk factors for surgical failure. I have neck problems now,too, which I am trying to handle non surgically.)

I am still working at an office job (which astonishes at least one of my doctors) but I have given up some other things, like getting rid of clutter at home or taking long rides to visit relatives. Also,I cannot afford to be a cleanliness fanatic. These days I live amid lots of clutter; however, I have LOTS more time for reading,which is my main form of entertainment. In order to try to keep on top of things with my spine and try to avoid the need for further surgery, I have become an exercise fanatic. I work out at a gym two or three times per week and exercise on my own two or three times per week. I have lost lots of weight and my blood pressure and cholesterol have dropped as a result. I do think of the spine problems as a blessing in disguise (although I still do grumble at times about the messy home, and I feel uncomfortable about inviting people over who did not know me before my spine started to take over my life! I need to work on that.)

Well. I failed the captcha test. My next two words do not appear to use our alphabet. I could be spending the next couple of hours trying to publish my comment.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Deb, what happened with captcha? You know you can get new words by clicking on the circle/arrow..and they seem to get simpler each time..

Deb Romano said...


I "Failed"Captcha with the second set of words that I requested. I could not decipher the word in the Inkblot. The third set containe a word that was either written in a different alpphabet OR the letters were upside down. In set number four, I just took a wild guess at the word in the Inkspot and i must have guessed correctly. Oh, and the set I failed was really set number three. While I was typing my comment, the captcha words changed. The original set actually looked easy. I was disappointed that they changed before I had a chance to use them. I will need to request a different set this time around,too, because I cannot figure out the letters in the second word -the Inkspot word. I wonder if part of my problem is because I have astigmatism?

Reine said...

Oh you didn't mean me! You meant her! Sorry... silly me. I thought you were someone else. Turns out I was someone else! Hah!