The last step of the mantra is thus: Finish Strong. (Thanks to Katie for adding it.)
Dude, I can't even begin to tell you how hard this step is. It's freaking hard. It's harder than not giving up. Than working hard.
Because it's hard to want to finish if you can't be first. Isn't that what we're always told? Second place is the first loser? Win or go home and all that? So yeah. When you immerse yourself in the writing community the way I have, and you see all your friends crossing the finish line with flags waving and crowds cheering and you've still got three laps to go...
So I started reminding myself every day of this fact. I'd say this inside my own head, "It's finish strong. Not finish first. Just finish." Sometimes I'd say it fifty times. Or one hundred. Or whatever it took to keep the finish line in sight.
Because if you lose sight of that finish line...you've fallen flat on your face in the quitters pile. And we've already determined not to give up.
So the mantra is thus:
Don't Give Up.
In honor of all those who've helped me do just that, I've created this (rather lame) badge. I'm passing it on to them, and they can pass it on to anyone they want. Maybe someone who's helped them work hard, keep the faith and finish the race. Whatever that race is, writing or otherwise. (Yes, that's Michael Phelps. Talk about the epitome of the mantra.)