Thursday, March 29, 2012

There’s a Fanatic in my Attic

According to the Little Oxford English Dictionary, a fanatic is someone who is too enthusiastic about something. Is that a bad thing?

If you want to win gold at the Olympics, if you want to achieve spiritual enlightenment, if you want to become a world champion Scrabble player, if you want to be great at just about anything, you must practice as if your life depended on it: you must become a fanatic.

Becoming a fanatic will set you apart from the also-rans and rank amateurs. Your fanaticism is the difference between you and those who are not prepared to devote their lives to the achievement of their goals.

This message came to me in a blinding flash as I devoured Stefan Fatsis’ book, Word Freak.  Fatsis introduces his reader to the world of elite Scrabble. It’s a world in which obsessive-compulsive word nerds memorise tens of thousands of nonsense words and anagrams in an attempt to become the world’s best Scrabblers. Their devotion to the game is both pathological and inspirational.

You might scoff: “Who cares about Scrabble?” And you might have a point: Scrabble is just a silly board game. But your goal is not silly. My goal is not silly. And, speaking for myself, I am not prepared to be out out-fanaticked by a bunch of Scrabble geeks.

Are you?

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