U is for Underdog

It’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond, especially when you ARE a small fish in a big pond! There are thousands of writers out there with more influence, more time and resources, the ones with ‘contacts’, the ones with famous authors as tutors and friends, and the ones who just naturally seem to be able to churn out masterpieces at the drop of a hat.

You are most certainly the underdog.

Word thesaurus informs me that the synonyms for underdog are loser, small fry, runner up, second best, and little guy…it’s not looking good so far is it? But who is it you always cheer for in books and films? The underdog, that’s who – the one without the contacts and the natural talent, the person who strives hardest for their goals even though they appear to be completely out of reach.

The underdog is the person everybody expects to lose. Everything is against them and as an outsider it seems strange to watch them fight against all the opposing forces gathered against them. But as aspiring writers (awful term) we are the underdog. In a world where agents and publishers have to fight through piles of manuscripts just to get to their desks, a world where ‘celebrities’ dominate the market with ‘their’ work, and people are losing interest in real fiction, it can be hard to fight through and get noticed.

But you have to fight. You’re the underdog, and there are plenty of people out there cheering for you. Me for one, as a writer I love hearing stories of previously unknown authors breaking into the market…the hard working ones who deserve it that is. And I’m sure there are plenty of other writers out there unwittingly cheering you on by the mere fact they want one of their own out there…winning!

So don’t be too upset that you’re the underdog, that you’re a small fish in a big pond because when you take a (gold)fish and put it in a larger tank it actually grows to make more use of the space. Scientific fact!

Just don’t try putting your (under)dog in a larger fish tank…it probably won’t get any bigger.


  1. It’s so true. Everybody loves an underdog. Heck, even those prickly publishers are looking to pluck one or two of them from the masses and turn them into the next big thing. Problem is this dang writing thing is so subjective. I’m sure the first publisher that turned J.K. Rowling down probably quit the profession. And boy was she the underdog! Now look at her.

  2. What? Underdog = loser? Bad thesaurus!

    Funny, I just had a general conversation last night with my S.O. about why we “root for the underdog,” and then after he/she succeeds, we cheer when he/she falls. (We didn’t come up with any answers, by the way.)

    I’ve heard that about gold fish. I’m willing to hop into a bigger pond even though I’m still a guppy. Maybe employ a little “sink or swim” pressure. 😉

    Good post, Steven! Hope A-Z has been fun for you!

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