I know I’ve mentioned the parallel before, but after the first week of the new baseball season, I’m reminded how my writing life is similar to a baseball season.
Some days, it’s all good. Your team manages to score a run or two in each inning to start the game. There are home runs, amazing catches, and stellar pitching. Everything is clicking and victory seems almost assured.
Some days my writing flows. The dialogue is snappy, the underlying tension between the characters is right where it should be, and the story moves along without effort. My fingers fly over the keyboard and the real world fades into the background.
And then there are the days where it seems like nothing is going right. Your starting pitcher gives up five runs in the first inning. Your suddenly deep lineup is getting no-hit by a kid making his first start. Your normally solid defense makes an error on what should have been a game ending double-play sending the game into extra innings.
With writing, some days it’s harder to get the words down on my computer than it is to get a green vegetable down a toddler’s throat. Or I can write a whole scene before realizing it’s in the wrong character’s point of view. The scene that was so vivid while I was driving, taking a shower, or laying in bed in the middle of the night now seems as hard to grasp as the end of a rainbow.
But even on the worst of days, there’s always hope. A rookie catcher can come in and not only break up the no-hitter but tie the game on a two-run homer. Or the starting pitcher can settle down and let his offense chip away at the lead until a couple of home runs and a well-timed double get them not only back in the game but take the lead.
For a writer, sometimes it’s the little things that can get you back on track. A good review or message from a reader serves as a reminder that, yes, you can do this. You can write a book that people will enjoy. Or that witty dialogue that was so clear in the car on the way to work is still there when you finally sit down at the computer and it flows so well that you don’t even need to dialogue tags.
It’s a long season. And sometimes it doesn’t go as scripted. The ace of the pitching staff comes down with the flu and gets rocked in his first start. Or the solid start is wasted with a blown save. There will be winning streaks, and losing streaks. Comeback wins and walkoffs by the opponent. There will be moments you talk about the next day. The pitcher’s home run off the guy who never gives up the long ball. The rookie who comes out of AA and not only forces his way into the lineup, he makes a darn good case for Rookie of the Year.
There are also games your team should have won, but didn’t. Leads given up in the late innings. Bad calls that contribute to a loss. Errors, home runs off the relief pitcher who is usually lights out. Baserunning mistakes from someone who should have known better. And then health is always an issue. What would 2011 have looked like if Buster hadn’t busted his ankle? Did Hunter Pence’s absence from the lineup doom the 2015 team? Can Matt Cain make a complete comeback from his injuries?
But if we knew exactly how the games would come out, it wouldn’t be as much fun. I mean, with all the hype of Bumgarner vs Kershaw, two of the most dominant left-handed starters in the game, the baseball gods decided to leave it up to the bullpen to determine the outcome of the game. And how many long-time Giants fans would have thought they’d come back from a five run deficit to win nine to six? I mean, we all remember the torture. Or what about that time Cain got ten runs in support. Ten. So what did he do that day? Just threw a perfect game. The surprise wasn’t that he was capable of pitching that well, the surprise in 2012 was the offense he had behind him. The come from behind, elimination games. The inside-the-park walkoff homeruns. And even the devastating blown lead in game six back in 2002. I would have started Woody for game seven, but then I’d just had a baby, so what did I know.
The thing that makes a romance novel fun, isn’t in wondering how it ends. We all know the couple will get together and find their happily-ever-after. The fun part is in getting there. All the little challenges and romantic gestures along the way. The unique ways this romance is different from the last romance you read (or wrote). The journey is what makes it interesting for the reader and the writer.
And the journey is what makes a baseball season interesting. I have a feeling it’s going to be another wild ride in another even year.