Saturday, February 27, 2010

Perfect Games and Perfect Prose

Back in the day (oh yeah, we're going there) I played collegiate softball. Several times a week, for four of the best months of the year, I would walk into that chalk-rendered circle, pick up the ball and represent my school for seven innings - 90 pitches, give or take, depending how the drop ball was breaking. My stats were solid (an ERA that hovered around 1), but inevitably there were times when the girl at the plate would connect. And sometimes she would really connect. And I'd curse myself for not getting the pitch far enough off the plate, or for trying, for the zillionth time, to finish the at-bat with a rise ball, which I refused to acknowledge was a misnomer in my pitching repertoire. But, ultimately, it didn't matter if it was a home run or a dribbler down the line that my third baseman booted or even a passed ball on a strike out. I always blamed myself. I could have done better. I could have chosen a better pitch, I could have placed it better, I could have thrown more pitches in practice, I could have, I should have, I could have, I should have.

I'll speak collectively now about me and Laura and how we put a good deal of pressure on ourselves. As writers, as mothers, as wives, as lawyers. Pressure is a little generous, in fact. It might be more accurate here to invoke the DaVinci Code and its charming monk, Silas. And while I can't give you anecdotes from Laura's college days to prove my point (although I'm sure there's a college theatre story in there somewhere), I can say that the woman graduated with the grades and LSAT scores to land her at the best law school in the country.

So now here we are, time on the stage and time on the mound a mere speck in the rear view mirror of our lives, trying to make our way as writers. And old habits die hard. At least once a day, one of us self-flagellates about how much we've written, or not written, or how poorly we've written it, or how terrible our ideas have been, or how we're too metaphor happy, or that we don't so much have a plot. (That, as it turns out was true, and a good thing to note.) And the last time I saw my dear friend and writing partner, she noted something she'd read declaring that people who don't write everyday, can't call themselves writers. So, of course, we started imposing daily word counts and time lines and generally agreed that if we didn't meet them that, well, we sucked. And, more importantly, we weren't writers.

Several days later, I was writing Laura a 7 paragraph e-mail about, among other things, how much we sucked. And while I was writing, I realized that we didn't. That we are writers. We do write everyday. To one another. My day almost always begins with writing or receiving an electronic missive that's full of raw feeling, insightful observations, and humor, always humor. And its these missives that have now become our muse. Our inspiration. Sure, it might not be flowing prose with precisely crafted plot turns, but its writing. And every good ball player knows, you can't throw a perfect game every time.


Anonymous said...

GREAT POST. It has it all - personal history, the grit and grind of writing, the struggle, and then a transformational realization. You should send this to Poets & Writers.

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