What imagery do you conjure when you think of the word triumph? Do you visualize a frenzied celebratory scene, like that of the iconic World War II photograph of a young sailor and nurse kissing in Times Square, New York? Or instead is it something more subdued and personal, like a baby’s first step?
Throughout my life the word triumph always drew imagery in my mind’s eye of a medieval gathering: cheering peasants, bright blats from shiny brass horns, polished chrome armor, and vibrant harlequin patterns. I suspect this imagery is rooted in the way the word entered my vocabulary as a child, likely through a picture book or accompanied illustration during a vocabulary lesson.
Because of the way I’ve historically interpreted the word triumph, it’s difficult for me to connect personally with the word, let alone relate it to a more focused aspect of my life: my writing. I’d like to think this ambiguity has something to do with my desire to keep my ego grounded and humbled.
Redefining the word to be more inclusive of what I consider to be small-wins, I can produce a modest timeline of triumphant events as it relates to my writing:
- 1997: Selected to read a piece of my poetry during a radio talk-show
- 1999: Lauded by peers over a short-story written in a creative writing class
- 2007: Completed participation in National Novel Writing Month
- 2009: Gained surreal appreciation of published authors and their works
- 2010: Elicited audience emotion during delivery of a wedding toast
- 2011: Co-wrote a full-length stage play and saw fruition of its performance
- 2012: Asked to contribute regularly to Write Anything for 2012
Reviewing the timeline above, my greatest triumph as a writer in terms of a victory or noteworthy achievement is that of gaining a surreal appreciation of published authors and their works.
As a child and young adult, a trip to the library or bookstore was uneventful and probably consistent with the way most non-writers view a book. “Somebody wrote down a story. Big deal,” is a good summation of my thought process at the time.
As a writer, my appreciation for authors and books is much different now. I can relate to hardships of authors in the time and effort necessary to produce informative, inspirational, and entertaining works of non-fiction and fiction. Of fiction in particular, I can read a paragraph and imagine how a half hour or more was poured into refining and polishing the prose in order to convey the perfect imagery to the reader.
Thinking about my other triumphs listed above, I acknowledge that it felt wonderful to receive praises for a moment or two. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve moved on. Occasionally I will reflect on those achievements and what they’ve made me today, but I have an elevated satisfaction in knowing that I look at authors and their books differently and likely will for every day of my life to come.