#1: AN UNDERDOG IS BORN: Why we root for Rocky Balboa

Some of my favorite stories growing up were that of the underdog. Baby in Dirty Dancing, Westley in The Princess Bride, and of course the most lovable underdog of all, Rocky Balboa.

The story of an underdog touches us because it connects with the underdog inside ourselves. That part that feels like the odds, and the world, are against us. This is true of every writer I’ve ever known.

If you look at the original Rocky movie, the entire first half you’re asking yourself “What am I watching? Where is this going? Who is this guy and why should I care?” Because honestly, it’s kind of boring. There’s really nothing special about Rocky Balboa in that first half of the story. He’s a has-been, or dare I say, a never-was. He lives a sad existence in a tiny space, cleaning up sweat at old Micky’s gym. No one takes him seriously, he’s a tad slow-minded, and for some reason, he carries and bounces a ball around wherever he goes.

Then the story turns. And suddenly this nobody is given a chance to prove his worth. As a viewer, you’re hooked. For an entire half of the story, you had suffered along with Rocky. You had lived his sad life, slowly building a connection, quietly wishing for more. It’s brilliant storytelling. Because even though Apollo Creed is not a “bad guy” in the story, there is not a single part of you that wants him to win. Through walking in Rocky’s footsteps, you have become Rocky.

This is how all underdogs win you over. They take you to that place deep inside yourself, the part where self-doubt reigns supreme, and they remind you that everyone begins as a nobody. It gives you hope that if Rocky Balboa can go the distance against a behemoth like Apollo Creed, then you too can access that greatness born in you.

Imagine if the story had been told from Apollo’s eyes. Imagine if you knew Apollo’s origin story of how he came to be the reigning champ, of the struggles, of the pain. Wouldn’t you then change allegiance for the winner of that fight?

That is why this blog will showcase my less than glorious moments toward publication. I will walk you through my boring days or writing, outlining, drafting. The days I spend researching, overcoming self-doubt, stalking agents. This blog will be the first half of Rocky. But then, hopefully, when I finally stand in that ring and go toe-to-toe with a publishing deal, you’ll be there, rooting for me. Because you will have watched every training moment along the way. Every raw egg I choke down, every cow corpse I pummel.

I may not have a Micky, but in time, I’m sure I’ll have an audience.

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