I guess I shouldn’t try to write a blog post while watching the Giants-Dodgers game. But I love baseball. From t-ball to the Major League, I love the game. The history, the mathematics, the physics. I love that there is no clock, except to note the time of the first pitch. The game ends when it is over, when the last out has been recorded. It could be a 1-0 shutout or a 10-9 walk-off homerun to win it in extra innings. There are 162 games in a Major League season and no team will win them all. But with hard work, persistence and a little bit of luck, a team can win it all.
The San Francisco Giants were facing elimination in the National League Divisional Series last October. They were facing former Manager Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Reds. I love Dusty Baker. He’s from Northern California and was the manager for many of the years I was able to go to games first at Candlestick then later AT&T park. But the Giants didn’t give up. Even though many of them had won the World Series in 2010, this group was just as hungry, just as determined to prove themselves. Outfielder Hunter Pence gave an inspirational pregame speech that was the kind of thing you’d expect from a Hollywood movie. He rallied his teammates and endeared himself to fans. They went on to win the series, and then after facing elimination once again against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, they won the National League Championship in a rainy, crazy game seven to go on to sweep the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
One of the things I love most about baseball is that it is never over until it is over. Perseverance is the most important trait a baseball player can have. Not size or strength or superhuman talent. Sure, those things help, but the biggest asset a player has is the ability to never give up.
The same thing can be said about writing. Or any dream worth pursuing.
I started my first romance novel twenty years ago. Just playing around, really, a way to entertain myself when I was first married and we didn’t have cable. Just baseball on the radio and my imagination.
Years went by, we started careers, a family. Bought a house. Upgraded. I quit teaching, tried bookkeeping, stayed at home with my kids and volunteered in their school. I joined the Little League board and kept myself busy. But I secretly wrote along the way. When I worked full time, I wrote about a career woman quitting her job and entering the world of playdates and competitive preschools. I wrote an inspirational secret-baby spy thriller with a lot of navel contemplating and wine induced flashbacks. That was the first book I finished, but it will forever remain “under the bed.”
Finally in 2010 I finished my second book. This time I felt like I could take the next step. Looking for a publisher, I researched agents, publishing companies and I discovered Romance Writers of America, they had a chapter that met in Sacramento, not far from my home. I couldn’t make the next meeting, because it was opening day of Little League, but I signed up as a guest for the following month.
I met with many amazing and welcoming writers. I felt completely over my head, but also like I belonged there. So I went back. I’ve learned about the craft and business of writing about how to pitch (not a baseball, but a book) and finally after almost three years I’ve signed my first publishing contract.
But I almost gave up on this book. I had received several rejections, most of them as a form letter. I got a few suggestions, encouraging me to keep writing but I wasn’t quite there yet. I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t sure what was wrong with my book. I was getting requests to my queries, but then…nothing. So I was really excited to win a critique by an author on a blog I follow.
I sent off my first 50 pages to her at the same time as a few agent and editor requests. I got a couple of rejections, again generic. One even spelled my name wrong and it ended up in my spam folder.
But I kept at it. Savvy Authors hosted a “Pitch Perfect” event the month of April. They set up several agents and editors to take pitches on their website. I’d already submitted, and been rejected by, a couple of the agents/editors on their list. But there were a few that I hadn’t yet contacted. I got two requests right away, and sent the required partial or full manuscript. One of the editors I pitched to didn’t post the results right away, so I had to check back.
In the meantime, I got my critique back. It was like my dental hygienist—very thorough and painful. I couldn’t finish reading it. I know she was trying to be helpful, but I was pretty down. I figured my hero was destined for the disabled list, maybe permanently. I was working on the second book in the series, but I stalled out around chapter ten. I wasn’t ready to give up, but I felt like I was down to my last strike.
I checked the Savvy Authors website and sure enough, the last editor wanted to read my manuscript. I sent it, thinking if I was going to go down, I’d go down swinging.
The next day she sent me a quick e-mail telling me how much she looked forward to reading it.
About a week later she’d finished reading it. I read the e-mail skimming past the words “I loved it” waiting for the “but.”
There was no “but.” She wanted my book.
A week later I had signed the contract with Lyrical Press and I’m going to be a published author.
So yeah, sometimes you can be down to your last strike, and with one swing of the bat (or click of the mouse) you can hit one out of the park.