Thursday, October 22, 2009

Volleyball and Writing

I've been proscrastinating any and all blog posts lately.

It's not that I'm being lazy. I've been reading a lot of blogs (even if I don't always post a comment) and I've had my nose in everyone's business via Twitter (even if I don't always "tweet"). My volleyball season concluded on Tuesday and though it was the most enjoyable season I can remember, it was still a little rough and took up almost all of my spare time.

I like to compare writing to sports. At the beginning of the season we start with high hopes. The coaches get together, we set goals, we plan out our practices, we observe each girls' skills. In essence, we outline the sports season. Once my team is formed, I place girls on the court where they'll contribute most to the team. I replace weak servers with stronger ones and I always make sure to have a tall middle-blocker front and center. I form rotations and run systems that cover all of the "holes" on the court and consult my assistant coaches for input. When it's all said and done, I have a complete, ready-to-play team.

The team has practiced, our defense it tight and our serves are precise. We're ready to face our opponents.

Here's the kicker: you either win or you lose. There's no second place. There's no "let's try that again". There's no do-over. My team played this season one district higher than we should have. We played some tough teams; some TALL teams. We played with tenacious determination and even though we won a set or two, we didn't win any games this season.

Writing is a lot like volleyball. I start off with ideas, choose the best ideas and put them in some semblance of order. I replace weak words and descriptions with stronger ones and I try to make sure that my middle is nice and strong, with no lag, ready to hold up the rest of the story. I form chapters and place them in a smooth running order. Then I edit, and ask my crit partners (assistant coaches) to give their feedback and make sure to fill all of my story's "holes" along the way. When I'm done, I have a complete, ready-to-query novel.

The writing kicker? Same as volleyball. You either win or you lose. There's no second place. And even though I've had a couple of "let's try that agains", I haven't had any do-overs. The writing community is enormous. Instead of competing against six other people, you're competing against hundreds. I've queried with tenacious determination, and though I've had a few requests, I've yet to bring home any wins this year.

How can you not feel a little down? My team endured some pretty snarky comments this season, as I've endured some pretty snarky blog post comments. They've had doubts about their abilities as I've had doubts about my writing. But not one single girl quit. They came to practice every day with smiles on their faces. They cheered at games and gave many-a-high-five. They practiced hard, they played hard. MY TEAM DID NOT QUIT, and neither should I.

As writers we hone our skills with each completed project. Every queried novel gets us closer to a win. Every blog post is practice for the larger scale chapter. When our crit partners give us feedback, they're our assistant coaches, helping us to point out the flaws that we failed to catch. Writing is certainly a team sport, and I'm ready to start the season!


ElanaJ said...

Go Mandy! I think it's only a matter of time until you make it. With determination and your "I'm not quitting" attitude, you've already won have the battle!

Susan R. Mills said...

Go Team!

Suzyhayze said...


Only that's not the way we spell rowdy. ;)

WindyA said...

Love the positive attitude! Something we should all remember more often. :D

The Girl with a Paper Face said...

(Laughs) I see that "snark" is getting around like a flu bug, persistant, and always hilarious. Great blog! I love your eclectic tastes!

And good luck with your novels, I hear that supernatural is taking America by storm these days.