Monday, June 1, 2009

On T-ball and Writing

First, a little background here for folks who may not be familiar with the differences between baseball and T-ball:

Baseball - 9 or more innings; T-ball - 3 innings

Baseball - runs add up as each player crosses the plate; T-ball - no scoring

Baseball - clear winner, clear loser; T-ball - no winners or losers. Everybody gets ice cream

Now that you're all on board, I'll get on with my story.

A few Saturdays ago, I spent the better part of the morning watching a T-ball game. What a hoot! I wish I'd brought a video camera along to record all the fun little vignettes I saw. Charles Schulz would have been proud of these kids.

Let me tell you about my favorites:

- The second baseman who decided it would be more fun to sit on the ground and play in the dirt than play the game.

- The first baseman who thought it would be more fun to twirl around in circles than pay attention to the batter.

- The kid who became so bored with the game that he threw a temper tantrum, lay down in center field and refused to play any more.

- The pitcher who decided she had to run back to the mound, toe the rubber and go into a full wind up, including leg kick, before she could try to throw out the runner at first base.

So what does any of this have to do with writing? Well, none of it, of course, but I'm on a roll here. Let me try to make the connection.

THE KID PLAYING IN THE DIRT - It's obvious he didn't have his head into the game. It's equally obvious some writers don't either. They'd rather procrastinate--they'd rather go off and do something other than writing because it seems like more fun at the moment.

THE KID WHO TWIRLED AROUND IN CIRCLES - Well, certainly he had no idea what was happening in the game, but he found something he liked to do and did it over and over and over again. Some writers are like that too--continuing to add words to a scene that should have been completed long before.

THE KID WHO QUIT - There are writers like that too. The thin skinned ones. One bad critique or one rejection and they give up.

THE PITCHER WITH THE BEAUTIFUL STYLE - This kid had great form, and had she been pitching instead of trying to throw a runner out at first, I would have asked for her autograph. Unfortunately, she was more interested in style than substance, so first base might as well have been a turnstile. A lot of writers spend so much time refining and beautifying their prose they sometimes forget their goal--to write a compelling story.

Like these kids, writers sometimes forget their goals. Are you one of them?

Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you pay attention to the rules?

Do you keep your eye on the ball?

Is your head into the game?

Are you more interested in style or story?

One final thought about T-ball. Most of the kids I saw were five and six years old. They're going to get better. As a writer, are you?