Baseball and Writing: What I learned from the Atlanta Braves
by Debra H. Goldstein
The Atlanta Braves are in the run for the pennant – or so I’m told. The team I saw play last night lost, justifiably, because of an abundance of errors, pitching that didn’t find its mark except to give up home runs and, other than Freeman’s great stop and pitch from his knees to first, lackluster play. The Braves beat the Dodgers in overtime on Friday. My writing often is like the Braves-Dodgers’ series.
It takes time for me to get warmed up. I turn on my computer and open a blank page. Sometimes, I review my stats by reading back what I previously wrote or checking how well my book, Maze in Blue, is doing on Amazon. Other times, I take a few warm-up pitches by checking out Facebook, Twitter, e-mails from friends, or playing a few games of spider solitaire. When I think I’m ready, I go back to the blank page I minimized. It’s still there.
Like a pitcher looking to the catcher for the signal, I wait for a message from on high to flow through my body onto the paper. Just when I think I’ve got it, the batter steps out of the box and I have to gear up again. Occasionally, frustrated, I opt to try to pick off the player on first by editing something I already wrote; but, more times than not, the runner gets back to base safely. That leaves me torn between trying the same move with another piece of my writing or throwing a fastball at the batter.
I like fastballs because they represent the time when my writing is at its best. It flows and I’m in the zone – unless I give up a home run like the Braves pitcher did three times in a row last night. Then, all I can do is watch the ball fly over the fence as the runner rounds the bases. I know I have no choice except to start over. If I dwell on the past or lose my nerve, I won’t be able to give my fans or the team supporting me the best effort they deserve.
Occasionally, the catcher or the coach gives me a pep talk or critiques my pitching. I can’t always translate the critique at the moment, but eventually I get the message and my writing is the better for it.
More often than not, my writing reflects the Braves game I saw last night, but every now and then I write something that gives me the feeling I should be up for a Cy Young Award. That feeling is what it’s all about.
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Although when it comes to writing, “It’s Not Always A Mystery,” sports is a different matter. I love books and theater….my husband adores any sport and any team (though before anything else, his blood runs crimson). The balance of our interests makes for a successful mixed marriage. Perhaps this will be the topic of another Debra H. Goldstein blog. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on writing as compared to sports and your own personal interaction with sports. DHG