Preschool Steroids, Gymnastics Tailgating, and Novel Writing

I don’t want my daughter to take gymnastics lessons.

You see, if she takes lessons then she may want to participate in competitions.

If she participates in competitions, then she will be judged by people who cannot help but allow some measure of subjectivity to influence the score she receives.  Therefore, the end result will always seem somewhat ambiguous and possibly biased.


So, I also don’t want my daughter to compete in diving, ski jumping, and figure skating.  Of course this also means certain kinds of snowboarding, bike riding, and dancing are off the table.  Pretty much anything that involves “style points” just has to go.

I want my little girl to grow up in a world where if your team scores more points than the other, you win.  If your time is faster than the competition, you win.  If your opponent lifts more weight than you do, she wins and she did it honestly.  Unless she’s on steroids or HGH, which has yet to have been a problem identified in her preschool class.  Or so we think.

After all, isn’t the world supposed to function in a manner where quantitative measures define winning vs. losing and improvement vs. set backs?  We evaluate companies based on stock prices, employee performance based on statistics, and organizations based on memberships levels.


Except when we don’t.

How can I not let my daughter to partake in activities based on subjective judgments while I navigate the realm of writing fiction?  What could possibly be less objective than the process of getting books published, having readers assign values to your words, and then watching helplessly as your work is discussed – and yes, judged – by those you have never met?

The hard truth about writing is that there are some very well-known bestsellers that aren’t really any better than some manuscripts that never get published.  The only difference is that at some point a judge in a publishing company decided one book “stuck the landing” while another had a technical flaw.  If you ask another judge about the same two books, the answer will often be the opposite.

The big secrets to success in the writing industry are:  1. Having some ability to write.  2.  Possessing a knowledge of the business.  3.  Getting lucky.  4.  Remembering that #3, trumps all other aspects.  The entire enterprise is extremely odd.  There is a ton of subjectivity involved and, while hard work helps, it does not guarantee an author will achieve any predetermined level of success.

Of course, now that I think about it, in the business world our performance could be evaluated unfairly by a supervisor.  Even if one uses statistics to assess your performance, who is to say the right stats are used?  And in our personal lives, we are constantly judged by some subjective measure.  The chances are you didn’t marry your husband simply because he rated high on a battery of tests and his Myers-Briggs personality type was found to be compatible with your own.  Not to mention, we often remind our kids that life isn’t fair and there is a reason that adage has been passed down for generations.  It’s because… life isn’t fair.

Someday, my child will get passed over for a promotion she earned.

Someday, my child will get screamed at and heckled for simply doing her job.

Someday, my child will own a broken heart because some guy made a subjective judgment.
(May I use this moment to remind any future potential suitors of her daddy’s training and background)

She will be judged, just as all of us get judged.  I suppose she may as well get used to the feeling.

Damn.  Do people tailgate for gymnastics?

I’d love to read your opinion on the topic.  Comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor


An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.



In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.


Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover



4 thoughts on “Preschool Steroids, Gymnastics Tailgating, and Novel Writing

  1. hollyida

    *sigh* Man, parenting is so freakin’ hard!! Telling your kid life isn’t fair really bites, because it may be the truth, but they still have so much idealism and you want them to hold onto that for a little while longer and yet you want them to be strong and *not* get their heart smashed….Aaarrgghhh! Yeah, I’ve been struggling with all of that a lot lately, too. And I’m sure you could easily start a tailgating trend at the meets. 😉

  2. Mike Fuller Author

    My “little girl” is 33 now. She didn’t let “what her daddy did” influence her choices in boyfriends. They broke her heart one after the other and there wasn’t much I could do about it if I didn’t want to end up in jail myself. She finally figured it out and is happy, though leaving her options open. At least the current one understands that I’m retired now and have all the time in the world to make the body vanish without a trace.


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