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    I wrote a book called The Forest for the Trees and it’s an advice book for writers. For four years, I blogged every day about the agony of writing and publishing, and the self loathing that afflicts most writers. A community of like-minded malcontents gathered and thus ensued a grand conversation. Now, the most popular posts are gathered in Greatest Hits ( a work in progress) Gluttons for punishment can scroll through the archives. If I've learned one thing about writers, it's this: we really are all alone. Love, Betsy
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You Better Let Somebody Love You Before It’s Too Late

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I’ve never read a Tom Clancy novel and I probably never will. Still: respect. His obit said he bypassed children’s books as a child and read military history. Lord have mercy. I’ve always believed that obsessions from childhood dictate what we write, but that is really something. Also from the obit, “Mr. Clancy said none of his success came easily, and he would remind aspiring writers of that when he spoke to them. ‘I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,’ he once said. ‘You do it and you keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kissed you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.'”

I played golf for two reasons: to drive the cart and to have a makeshift egg cream which my dad made at the halfway house by mixing cream soda and Yoohoo. THe three rules he would repeat over and over: keep your head down, eye on the ball and follow through.

Though I also have to admit, and possibly from working with Patti Smith, that I have seen mystical things happen, but pretty much only when you are in the deep center of your work, completely obsessed and working like a mad man. (Do mad men work hard? Hmmm?)  But it can happen: a simile arrives unbidden and so perfect that you have ask yourself: did I pull that out of my ass or what?)

Any other decent sports metaphors out there for the writing racket?

27 Responses

  1. “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” — Yogi Berra

  2. “Leave it all on the field.”

  3. Any other decent sports metaphors out there for the writing racket?

    I think at some point you could twist them all into some comparison to writing, but I’ll stick to what I know.

    Running.

    I’ve compared writing to the marathon, all grueling 26.2 miles you train for relentlessly. Your time is sucked up into planning your weekly runs, particularly the long run. If you don’t run for even a few days, you lose aerobic capacity. It takes dedication, patience and perseverance to keep going, to cross the finish line, and some don’t, even after all the training. It doesn’t matter that you’ve run for 25 years. Some days you just have bad runs..

    Writing. Grueling, it can definitely be that. Your time is sucked up into finding the time to write. Because you know you only get better the more you put pen to paper. It takes dedication, patience and perseverance to get published, and maybe you won’t be. Some days you just have bad writing days, no matter how many years you’ve written.

    R.I P. Tom Clancy.

    • Shit, I forgot the metaphor while I was doing the wax on, wax off about running.

      Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
      -Oprah Winfrey

  4. One hand for yourself, one for the boat.

    Reef early, reef often, and don’t sail where the birds are standing.

  5. Some days, I not only feel like I can’t play the game but I don’t even know if the ball is pumped or stuffed.

  6. Not the greatest writer, but worth reading his “Hunt For Red October.” The rest of his books are pretty much filler. Hunt is short, there is depth to the main characters, and it has the best use of “My name is Ozymandias” ever as the culmination of the story. His portrayal of Russian emotions, sentimentalism and sheer guts is all true to what I know from family and community and what we’ve seen historically.

  7. My favorite about cruising under sail:

    Between the dream and the deed lies the doldrums.

  8. “Everybody wants to know what am I on? What am I on? I’m on my bike six hours a day busting my ass. What are you on?”

    Lance Armstrong’s Nike Ad

  9. I used to ride. A lot. I was always told to have a soft touch on the reins; to trust my instincts and the horse’s. I was good enough, so just go. I feel the same way now, as a writer.

    As Diane Lane (as Penny Chenery in Secretariat) said before the Belmont, “Let him run, Ronnie. Just let him run.”

    You train. You practice. You study. The best part of writing is just letting go.

  10. “Most games are lost, not won.” Casey Stengel

  11. Skiing. Knees are shot and I won’t ski again, but I think about it often. Commit to the turn, commit to the turn. You are always leaving one turn and entering the next turn. There is nothing inbetween. And you don’t lean back.

    • Lord, don’t I know that one. “Don’t lean back.” I did that – once. There I was…a novice on a black diamond. Big hills. Little ole me. I leaned back, afraid for my life. Big mistake. My butt rode on the back of my skis ALL the way down…until I conveniently parked myself in a snowbank. :)

    • When you ski in deep powder, especially the dry champagne pow pow of the Utah backcountry, it’s best to lean back a bit and keep your tips up. Just don’t get too comfortable.

  12. Billiards. Chalk your hands and chalk your cue before every shot. Then shoot. Chalk again, shoot again. Only way to learn how to play is to play. Play until the way to play is part of your body, part of your being. You’ll use a lot of chalk and you’ll shoot a mean game of pool, you work at it hard enough.

  13. Start further back and you have time to catch up.
    Start at the back of the pack and you have to keep up.

    Don’t give up until you throw up.

  14. Is watching television a sport?

  15. Writing is like pitching. You have to tune out the noise of the opposing crowd and focus on each pitch, on what you can control.

  16. I don’t know any sport metaphors. I know the way to Broadway: practice, practice, practice.
    Did you and your dad live in a halfway house? My mom lived in one a couple times; she said kids weren’t allowed in there.

  17. “The only good race pace is suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” – Prefontaine

  18. From the Australian rugby league coach Wayne Bennett, a quiet, unassuming giant among men, who has proven himself not just a great coach of players and teams, but a wonderful guide and mentor for many a troubled person, I offer you the title of his book — “Don’t Die with the music in You”

  19. On the tee, Eddie offering advice and firing up his corn cob bowl: Have a hit before you hit.

  20. Found this on the computer once:
    Less traffic in the extra mile.

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