Why the Underdog?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately. Maybe it’s because my husband made me watch the 18th hole of the British Open. Tom Watson, 59 years old, needed to get a par to win. While the crowd went berserk, I kept thinking, “Wow, there is SO much pressure on this Tom guy right now.” And then I said to my hubby, “Everybody wants to be inspired.”

How true is that? I don’t know anybody who wasn’t rooting for Tom to sink that put (he didn’t). We all wanted to be inspired. We wanted to be moved. So, being a writer, I decided to write a list of everything that inspires me.

What did I learn?

My list kept coming back to one theme: the underdog. Whenever a person wins, despite all the odds stacked against him, I’m inspired. And I think most other people are too. Rudy. Harry Potter. Frodo. Rocky. Lance Armstrong, Miracle (the hockey movie). Apollo 13.

Whether it’s real or fiction, when someone works through an insane amount of adversity in order to accomplish his goals, that’s inspirational. Why is that? Is it because we want to believe we possess that same potential for greatness? Is it because we want to see the ordinary do something extraordinary?

I asked my husband what inspires him.

His answer: The unimaginable.

Jesus was pretty unimaginable. He’s pretty inspirational too.

Questions to Ponder: What inspires you? And if you’re a writer, how can we inspire others, both with our lives and our stories?


18 thoughts on “Why the Underdog?

  1. Faith

    I agree with the above… I think I'm inspired by the unimaginable, the underdog, courage to overcome adversity… but I think maybe most of all, I'm inspired by the unexplained, or the inexplicable. I want to learn more about whatever it is that I don't understand, because if I don't understand it, that sense of wonder and awe that comes with learning something new can be repeated time and time again. It's so easy to just get stuck in a rut with the familiar, but the unexplained inspires me… I can either learn about it, or create some explanation myself.

    I'm not sure I'm really expressing this correctly, sorry if it seems a bit vague… I'm still working on coffee #1. 🙂

  2. CKHB

    Nice post! "Is it because we want to believe we possess that same potential for greatness? Is it because we want to see the ordinary do something extraordinary?" Both! Because when someone ordinary accomplishes the extraordinary, it IS about our own potential, a reminder that someone dedicated who does their best can achieve greatness… a reminder that we don't have to be genetically gifted with greatness in order to reach our goals. I mean, if that was the case, why not give up right now?

    Hence, stories where the characters perhaps have some natural skill, but also require teamwork, persistence, friendship and loyalty. Because those are all things we can work on ourselves.

  3. Tabitha Bird

    Plenty of things inspire me. Being outside, sunshine, the ocean…simple things really. Other writers inspire me too. I love an underdog!
    Great post, Katie.

  4. Katie Ganshert

    Hey everybody! Thanks for the comments. I enjoy reading them. Here's to being inspired on a daily basis. 🙂

  5. Stephanie

    I usually root for the underdog too…even when the underdog changes!! I think I was on the computer while hubby was watching the Superbowl…or some other sports championship. I glanced up every so often, but was quietly rooting for the team that was losing. Then they did good and were winning…and then I found myself rooting for the other team…thinking how sad it was that they were winning and now they weren't anymore!

  6. Erica Vetsch

    I'd agree, the underdog prevailing always inspires me, as does someone who experiences inner change. Happy endings inspire me. 🙂

  7. Galen Kindley--Author

    Oh, for sure, it’s the story of anyone or anything that overcomes obstacles. The problem here is the old line about, “You couldn’t write it like that, it’s not believable…yet it happens.

    As a writer, I think delivering on the promise of the book’s premise to the reader. I don’t want them to feel cheated or misled. They spent good money on a book the believed was about XYZ, told in ABC fashion. Gotta keep that bond. At book signings, I offer my buyers a money back guarantee if they dislike the book for any reason. I even pay their postage.

    Best regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  8. Ralene

    Yay for the underdog!

    I love to be inspired. It is quite the experience to read something, and through it, be inspired to DO something.

    Like Krista, I'm inspired by love–acts of kindness that can change people's lives.

  9. Marybeth Poppins

    I'm with you Katie, I am a SUCKER for the underdog. (Probably because I've always felt like on myself…)

    I love this post. I think I'm going to have to write a list of my own 🙂

  10. Heather Sunseri

    I'm inspired by people and characters who don't give up, and I strive to inspire by not giving up.

  11. Angela

    Yes, I often start a story with a character who is inspired (though not always the underdog). And I love the challenge of a character who wants the impossible…

  12. Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought

    Question One: William Blake's: "To see a world in a grain of sand…"

    Question Two: By either overtly or subtlety finding ways to direct it all back to Him in our writing and love for one another.

    ~ Wendy

  13. sherrinda

    Lovely post! Such great things to think about. Courage inspires me. Someone taking a step…or a leap…to do something that scares them silly is awesome in my book. (pun intended)
    I did not watch the Open, but got regular updates from my hubby. 🙂

  14. Krista Phillips

    Ahhh, this would be why we need to add "conflict" to our books and make the outcome almost insurmountable because the reader needs to ROOT for our MC, to cheer them on because… by about 3/4 into our books, they need to be severely an "underdog". *grin*

    What inspires me? Love. I'm a huge romantic, and seeing acts of love and kindness, whether it's romantic love (the BIG kiss) or friendly love (someone doing something kind for another) it's awwww inflicting. I want to be awwwwed.

  15. Elizabeth Spann Craig

    Great post, Katie!

    As a writer, I'm inspired by other writers and by reading good books.

    As a person, I'm inspired by people who have kindness sort of beaming out of them.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  16. Jody Hedlund

    That's so true, Katie! We are inspired by people who have to overcome adversity and that's an excellent thing to think about as we plot our stories! Thanks for planting that idea in my mind! That's why I love blogging–I learn SO much!

  17. Jessica

    Great post! I feel inspired by people overcoming odds too. You put out a great list there. I'd say those same things inspire me, but there are different inspirations too. Some things inspire me to be a better person and some inspire me to try harder.
    Thanks for sharing this post. I don't watch that so I didn't even know about it. 🙂

  18. Eileen Astels Watson

    Katie, this post is pretty inspiring if you ask me!!!

    I think you're totally right, it's wanting to see adversity defeated, or at least overcome, but it's not just the winning that I think we celebrate, but what we/they learned and gained through the trials and come out a better person for it.

    LOL. My hubby had me watching the game too, but I had to leave at around the fifteenth hole to take D#1 to camp. First time hubby missed going with us. The British Open was just too enticing. Considering it was D#1's fourth week at camp this summer she didn't mind.


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