Once a week a friend and I meet up at our local cinema for a chat and the chance to watch the latest film. Last week we were both enthralled while watching the film ‘Eddie the Eagle’, about the British Olympic ski-jumper Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards.
Eddie had wanted to be an Olympian ever since childhood. He had a dream, and could not be deterred. As a small boy one of his legs was in a brace due to knee problems, and his parents tried to dissuade him from his goal, probably to avoid future disappointment. His father wants him to get a proper job and be a plasterer like himself, and when Eddie leaves school, his father arranges for him to start work on a building site.
Eddie is a awesomely bad plasterer, because has other ideas. He visits the Olympic headquarters in London and asks to join the British ski team. He is laughed out of the building and told there isn’t one. Still undeterred, he learns to ski-jump because with this sport he doesn’t have to compete as part of a team. His spectacular crashes and injuries bring him to the attention of Bronson Peary, an ex championship ski-jumper who is now an alcoholic snow-plough driver on the ski jump where Eddie practises. Bronson eventually agrees to coach Eddie, but tells him he should have started jumping at the age of 5 or 6. Eddie is 22.
Eddie eventually stops crashing and masters the 70 metre jump, jumping the required distance to qualify for the 1988 Olympic games in Calgary. However, the Olympic team see Eddie as a bit of a joke, and raise the qualifying distance. Everything is stacked against him, but Eddie, determined to succeed, ‘borrows’ his dad’s van and together with Bronson they travel to Germany where he then sets out on the task of qualifying all over again.
I won’t tell you any more of the story, apart from the fact that the audience loved this film. I was impressed that Eddie never let anything get in the way of his dream, and thought to myself that this is the amount of determination I need to succeed as a writer. If Eddie could do it with everything stacked against him, then maybe I might have a chance to achieve my dream too. Us would-be-writers have to get up again after being knocked down with rejections, and come back determined to carry on and learn from our mistakes. We must never give up!
A few days ago I learned that an excerpt from my latest book ‘Repent at Leisure’ has made the shortlist of the Escalator Writing Contest (results announced 20th April). Ten winners will benefit from a year’s worth of mentoring from professional writers and a chance to meet literary agents and to take part in developmental workshops. You never know, this might just be my own Bronson Peary…….