Friday, July 13, 2012

On How Baseball Relates to Writing

Yes, I have been watching a lot of baseball this summer.  A LOT.   (Braden is currently on two teams - the High School Automotive Team and the Babe Ruth All-Star Team. Some form of game or practice six days a week.)  It's given me a lot of time to think. 

And of course, I think about writing while I'm sitting in the hot sun, watching my son and his teammates play. What kind of writer would I be if I didn't think about writing all of the time? 

As I watched and thought about it, I realized that there are a lot of similarities between becoming a great baseball player and becoming a great writer.

When Braden started playing, he had thrown the ball with his dad.  He'd hit the ball with his dad.  Still, he'd never played on a team.  He was little and inexperienced.  Scared each time he came up to bat.  Dropped a few balls when they were hit to him.  But he did it.  Again and again.  And the beautiful thing is, he learned something every time he took the field, every time he stood in the batter's box.  Looking at him now, you'd never know that he was once afraid to try to hit the ball, that he once struggled to catch a fly ball.

He's got experience and training behind him now.  He's getting more every day.  He's confident.  And he's a GREAT player - with the potential to be a PHENOMENAL player.

So how does this relate to writing?

Well, those of us who write do something similar.  We come up to the plate time and again, scared that our writing will fail.  We strike out a few times.  We may even get hit by the ball or drop the fly that's hit to us.

But if we want to be GREAT writers, PHENOMENAL writers, we do it again and again, gaining experience and training each time. 

We practice a lot.  We play a lot of games by entering contests.  We accept coaching when we work with crit partners.  We stand at that plate with each query letter we send.

And guess what - we strike out.  A lot. 

But it's that one hit, you know the one, that grand slam that scores the winning run, that we're waiting for.

And if we're patient, it will happen.

You know, GREAT baseball players hit the ball only three of ten times at bat.  Those who hit it a few times more than that are PHENOMENAL players.  (I never thought of it that way until I watched the movie 'Martian Child', but it's true, look at the stats of most MLB players.)  And in order for those three hits to happen, they have to get up to bat ten times.

They have to put their hearts and pride on the line TEN times to get THREE hits.

How many times have I stepped into the batter's box?  Honestly, I haven't counted.  I will, later.

I haven't hit that GREAT level yet.  PHENOMENAL is still a dream.  But it's attainable.  With enough practice, coaching, and playing time, I may just hit that grand slam.

In the meantime, I need to get ready to take Braden to practice today.  And tomorrow, we're off to the All-Star State Tournament.  (Okay, I'm bragging.  They're District Champs.  That gives me the right as his mother.  Right?)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Who Am I?

Seems like a pretty simple question, doesn't it?

And on the surface, I guess it is.

I'm a woman who has been married for more than half of my life.  I'm a mother to four amazing individuals.  I work full time in a busy office.  I have friends who I join for dinner at least once a month.  I write as much and as frequently as I can.  I watch baseball, basketball, and dance competitions.  I work on fundraisers for my kids and their teams. I serve in my church. And I read when I can.

In my downtime (snicker - yeah, right) I dream of traveling and being published.  Maybe traveling to promote my book, even. 

But when I'm asked to include a biographical paragraph in a query, I freeze up.

All of the things I am, all of the things I do, well, they don't count in that particular paragraph. 

Agents are looking for information about prior publishing experience.  And well, I don't really have any that's relevant. 

Sure, I wrote for my high school paper for three years, I interned for a year at an all-news radio station writing stories to be read on the air, I wrote software documentation for clients, and thousands of letters to those same clients.  I've even written a successful grant - in less than 24 hours, and with very little to go on.

But I haven't been published.

No small articles in major sources, no books.  Nothing that I can add to that paragraph.  Yet.

Part of me winces when I get to that point.  Another part says 'skip it, just say thanks, and let it go'.  I try to listen to the second part of myself.

You see, I'm pretty happy with all of the things in my life that I can't include in that paragraph.  And really, when it comes down to it, those are the things that shape the way I write, the ideas I put into words.

My 'biography' may be unstated in my query letter, but it is ever-present in my work.