It’s My Blog and I’ll Cry If I Want To

NOTE: this is the rare Storyfix post that isn’t directly about telling stories. This is about dreams and memories and goals and regret and what we do with it all, which you can easily spin into a perspective on the writing life.

Or just life itself.

 I do, on both counts.

A long, long time ago, on or about this date, I arrived at high school baseball practice to find the father of a teammate waiting for me.  With some big news: he’d just heard on the radio that I had just been drafted by the Washington Senators.  Twentieth round.

My life suddenly changed.  The only thing, on a career level, that I can compare it to is the day I got the call informing me that I had sold my first novel.  That, too, was a while ago.

Cut to yesterday, June 6, 2013, when professional baseball held its annual free agent draft.  Some of the drafted come right out of high school like I did, and some of those pass on what professional baseball is offering and opt for college baseball instead. The others are college players whose only remaining option is pro ball, with an obligatory apprenticeship in the minor leagues.

Either way — whether it’s a baseball or a keyboard — the journey is only beginning, the road ahead is long and arduous, and perhaps blissful, as well.  If you do it right.

Thing is, for most guys it doesn’t last.

You can’t totally control the outcome.  You can only control the time and effort, the heart, that you put into it.

Every year on this date, or whenever the draft happens, I harken back to that day when my name was on that list.  I signed with Senators, who two years later become the Texas Rangers, and for five years kicked around the low minor leagues trying to find home plate with a decent fastball and a slider that had the temperament of a stray cat.

And then it ended. A black day in the journal of my life. It was back to reality, a much different long and arduous road for me.

It was then that I discovered writing.  And another dream was born.  One I’m still working on.

To not have a dream, to pursue a goal, no matter how old we are, is to be dying.

That’s why I love writing. Even on those days when I don’t. You only have to be able to think to play this game at the highest levels, and getting there is a door open to all.

Draft day is an emotional one for me.  Not so much because of regret, which is certainly in the mix (regret not so much at not making The Show, but at what I could and should have done differently, on several levels), but because of the passage of time itself being rammed right down my wrinkled old throat, holding a mirror up to all facets of my life.  Don’t get me wrong, I do celebrate getting the shot, and the memories are as fresh as if it were just last year.  I’ve had decades of dealing with dismissal (“oh, you were just in the minors then…”), of misunderstanding (minor league baseball, at its lowest level, overall is equal to and usually superior to the highest level of Division 1 college baseball) and generally nobody really giving a shit about what remains, for me, the most precious of memories.

It wasn’t a squandered opportunity.  It was a privilege and a stepping stone.  A clinic in life.

The upside, the memories and the lessons remain mine alone, conversationally appealing to absolutely nobody in my life except my wife.  I married well, my wife loves baseball, one of a massive handful of reasons I remain a very lucky man.

And so I juggle regret with an acknowledgement of those lessons learned, applied to a new dream that nobody, despite the collective forces of an avocation built upon rejection, can kill.

It’s interesting to note how little coaching and mentoring I received in professional baseball.  I threw a fastball as hard as the guys drafted in the first round yesterday (mid-90’s), and while I wasn’t the best athlete on any of those teams (that particular bar was very high), my arm was there.  I wonder what would have happened had someone taken the time, applied the knowledge and the patience, to school me in the little things, the strategic things, the stuff that almost nobody who hasn’t worn a uniform understands about how and why a pitcher becomes successful in competing with professional-level hitters.

By and large, as a pitcher, I was like a reader of novels who has absolutely no clue about what the writer has to do to make a story work.  Throwing hard… that’s only the ante-in.

The most talented guy I played with, and my best friend in the game, was a first round pitcher named Jim Owen, who didn’t make it either.  But his story was different… he walked away from baseball after a few years riding buses, the only player in my entire experience that actually did that, though many claim to have quit (they’re lying, they got released like everyone else).

He knew who he was and what he wanted, and when that clarified for him he set out on a different path to get it.  And did.

And thus, my point today emerges, for your consideration.

Raw talent… big deal.  You can write great sentences and emails… big deal.  That just gets you a tryout.  Gets you drafted.  There is nothing special about unrefined, unschooled talent.  In fact, talent isn’t even at the top of the list of what it takes to make it, in baseball or in writing.

Once you’re playing in that league, other variables enter the proposition to determine your fate.  Among them is your head, your approach to the game, your tolerance for failure and frustration, and the willingness to do the hard work of moving forward in an ever-ascending assault on the learning curve.

The guts to persevere. To find some measure of bliss while sitting alone in a room with your story, no matter what happens to it.

That’s what my baseball experience taught me about life.  About writing.

I sit alone in a room with both… my stories, and the ghosts of my baseball past.  Both, painful as they are, embrace me with that bliss.

It’s the little things.  The craft.  The nuance.  The Big Picture melding into the minutiae, tempered over years of building sweat equity and learning from the losses.

In baseball and in writing.

Thank God for both.

****

Another personal note: some scumbag in Nigeria has hacked into my email and is using my contact list to send out… God knows what.  Many of you are on that list, so if you received one of those emails I apologize… wasn’t me.  I’ve changed my security settings, it appears to have worked.

What I wouldn’t give for five minutes in a room alone with that asshole, sans machete. 

55 Comments

Filed under other cool stuff

55 Responses to It’s My Blog and I’ll Cry If I Want To

  1. I come from a baseball family. My youngest brother played college baseball, but didn’t want to pursue it any further. Since then, the love of baseball for him has sort of waned. My nephew, however, loves the game and will probably follow in his uncle’s footsteps. This year, he made it on a local traveling team. He’ll be playing baseball most of the summer and I think he’s perfectly alright with that.

    All this to say, I understand, just a little bit, about how those who truly love baseball never get it out of their skin – just like writing. I discovered writing when I was in the sixth grade – and I have never managed to get it out of my skin. It is there permanently because it is who I am – a writer.

    This was a terrific blog post and spoke to me on so many levels. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I’m not much into baseball, but I like the larger message. It speaks well beyond writing and baseball. Talent is not enough. It’s drive, ambition, perseverance, and even a bit of luck that make us into a true success.

    One extra thing you threw in was the importance of coaching. Few of us can reach the heights we are capable of without a coach. In writing that may be an editor. In Physics it may be a teacher. But, that coach tells us where we are weak, where we are strong, encourages us when we want to give up, and calms us down when we’re on a high.

    One last closing thought: our failures are as valuable and important as our successes. I’m a failure as an athlete, but it taught me humility from an early age, and it taught me to appreciate that just as much effort goes into athletics as goes into math, physics, or writing.

  3. Robert Jones

    Larry,

    The story of my art career isn’t all that different. It lasted longer than a few years, but endings are there for a reason. Be it first stabs at following our dreams, or early career endeavors, I believe it’s all part of a grander training ground.

    I chose writing for much the same reasons you mentioned–plus I wanted to run my own game and do the thinking and planning that went into my creative projects. As a freelance artist, I learned some things early that makes the latter more possible. Plus working as a contract worker for both smaller indy companies, and those with large corporations behind them, taught me exactly what travels down the pike, and how.

    We are all players in a larger game and few get to ride shotgun on the grand coach that leads the parade. Bean counters assign numbers that often make or break us before we even hit the stands. Higher brass make lists that only those with either great past records, or those they’ve invested good money in, ever get on. The odds are stacked, and no one is throwing any of those stacks out to the masses to improve our chances at success.

    This is why taking the time to learn craft is so important. The more you know, the more odds you’re wracking up for yourself. Because few coaches and mentors are there early on, fewer still before the electronics age. And when it comes to the arts especially, no one is nurturing the up-and-coming from the corporate side. It isn’t considered cost effective. Yet, those same corporate powers, and even many editors, will shrug and wonder why their market isn’t selling like it was. They claim to not know what sells any longer while digging around in a pool of undernourished novices, hoping to find the next great wonder, hoping they either get it by some miracle, or that someone out there might actually be playing coach and teaching craft to the struggling masses.

    Those coaches for your future dreams are men like Larry. People who still give a damn. And why? Probably because they remember what it was like when they had raw talent the industry (whether sports, or anything else in the world of arts and entertainment) could have made good use of, but did not. More often than not, potential talent is tossed out right under the noses of the very people looking for it. However, our experiences make us who we are. I can’t claim to know the experiences of most movers and shakers of the world. But I don’t see them blogging about their missed opportunities, or reminiscing about how they got where they are today. I assume that all were helped somewhere along the way by a parent, a teacher, a mentor. Why so many seated in their towers of glass and steel believe they owe nothing in return is quite beyond my understanding. And I hope it stays that way.

    But until those guys in their offices suites decide to give something back to those who nurtured them, or a society who bought whatever the hell they were selling, I’ll give my vote, and all due credit, to coaches like Larry, who still seem to care enough to actually be doing something to cultivate people’s hopes and keep the dreams in this country alive. The sort of dreams that will hopefully build a brighter future.

    Bless your past, Larry, and never forget it. It has made you who you are. Your job is an important one. To the people striving to get their first break at the big dream, and especially for the folks like me striving to make it a better one the second time around. Because we know and can certainly appreciate.

  4. Olga Oliver

    Beautiful words Larry, weaving a lovely life song filled with perfect music. Reminds me of the song we used to sing on Sunday: “How Great Thou Art.”

  5. Mike Humphreys

    Great story about your minor league baseball experience. I have a similar deja-vu experience watching Olympic track as I was a 400 meter sprinter in college. At the time, my goal was to get to the Olympics but after hurting my knee two years in a row, the best I could do was sub-51 seconds. That’s faster than about 95% of the population but not world-class level like Olympians do. I don’t regret walking away from track when I do because like you mentioned, there’s certain things each year with the sport that brings up all of the memories for me.

    I’d venture a guess that the persistence you built as an athlete has helped you bunches as a writer. It takes persistence IMHO to sit down and write each day even when you’re tired or feeling inspired at the moment.

    Thanks again for sharing your story.

  6. Mike Humphreys

    Oops… meant to say ” It takes persistence IMHO to sit down and write each day even when you’re tired or NOT feeling inspired at the moment.”

  7. The guts to persevere is right! Baseball, in any league, is a tough life-game, and like life lessons and great stories come out of having played it. And like storytelling if we stay in the game, keep our minds sharp and keep learning (lifelong apprenticeship) than maybe, just maybe we’ll get up to bat.
    Nice post, Larry. Thanks for sharing your story, your regrets and your renewed life vision. It’s universal stuff.
    And I was one who got your hacked e-letter asking that I send money – it was addressed;
    My very dearest Mindi Faleck, I most sincerely beseeches you….
    Somehow, Larry, I knew it wasn’t you. M

  8. Martha

    Wonderfully illuminating post this morning, Larry. As many times as I’ve heard you speak, I hadn’t heard this inspiring story before. Of course it reminds me of my own, and the regret I’ve always harbored that I did NOT pursue the dream I had as a teen because of the discouragement I received from a parent. That same parent discouraged me about writing too. Then, one day years later, my husband brought home an Olivetti typewriter from his office and gave it to me. “Write,” he said. I’ve never wavered in the need to make up stories, some good, some bad, but what happened that I didn’t expect was meeting up with so many amazing and wonderful people. Someone once said, it’s the unexpected doors that open for us that can give us the greatest joy in life. Hmm, maybe I should write a story about that.

  9. Susan Gregory

    Larry, this is one of the – if not THE – most inspiring blogs I have ever read. Thank you for sharing. You ARE an inspiration.

  10. Larry I’ve been a baseball fan most of my life but never had the skill to play. My hat is off to you for getting as far as you did. I became an Air Force pilot and one of the guys I met in my career was also a former baseball player and was the college roommate of Billy Swift. We were on temporary duty up in Alaska when the state fair was going on and that was when I discovered this about him, They had a pitching booth with the speed gun and he couldn’t resist testing his arm. I hit the mid 50s and he was in the high 70s without warming up. I’ll never forget that moment as cheesy as it may sound. My college roommate was also a collegiate pitcher and while he managed to stay on the team throughout his four years but that was the end of his career as well. Thanks for sharing Larry. Some of us actually do think its a big deal you made it that far. I love watching minor league ball.

  11. Illoura

    Thanks Robert Jones for thanking Larry in the way I would like to have. What he is doing with his life has been immeasurably influential and immense in mine- doubtless many, many others.
    Without life lessons to draw from, I think stories would be pretty dry… that’s the one advantage of age, but it’s no small thing. Counting blessings in dark times or from the curses of living is a gift.

  12. Baseball is beautiful. These words are beautiful.

    My father was a musician. Amateur, but good. I dreamed of being a musician.

    And that’s all I did: dreamed. 45 years later, I can play a little here and there, but I never put in the practice to even achieve mediocrity.

    I almost made the same mistake with my writing. Steve Pressfield and Shawn Coyne’s kicks in the backside and your mental prodding saved me from that.

    This time, I’m doing the work. I know I have the ante, but I don’t want to just play, I want to win.

  13. Larry always tells the truth. He is also part of a generation that always finished what it started. That kind of grit and determination knows disappointment and loss in it’s rawest form.

    The loss of a core goal–for a finisher, a completer and a get-there-hell-or-high-water person — might change the dream but it does not diminish the energy or determination.

    Memories for a completer are way beyond and something other than a nostalgic and unrequited longing for a past locked away by time and chance.

    The memories of a completer open the door to an even deeper well spring of energy. An energy born of stuff greater than determination and grit. An energy born of life in relation to insight, discovery and achievement.

    Cry? Larry, what I heard was a battle cry!

  14. Lisa

    Thank you Larry, for this and for your passion in helping us “newbies” to persevere, and giving us the tools to get better. I subscribe to a lot of writing blogs, but I have to say yours is one that always gives me solid, practical advice.
    I’m coming at this writing game late, in comparison to some. But it’s good to know there’s still a place for me if I work hard and give it my best shot.
    Thanks for the encouragement, as always.

  15. Kerry Boytzun

    @Larry: “To not have a dream, to pursue a goal, no matter how old we are, is to be dying”

    Isn’t that the end of childhood, when the dreams go away and it’s time to “join the real world”?

    Seems like the world has so few dreams left in it as I meet people and ask them about their lives. Most live lives of their job and carting around their kids to soccer. Their dreams? They giggle nervously and look around, as if someone important to them is secretly watching and saying “Yeah, whatever happened to YOUR dreams?” Then I get variations of “no comment” that comes out in some kind of joke, “I got kids”, or “it’s too late for that”.

    Myself, I’m a dreamer and while I’ve had my periods of life where I’ve sent my dreams to the dark recesses of my mind, overall those thoughts just eat at me and drive me either crazy, or to do something about them dreams.

    I’ve pushed myself since my late teens to “get ahead” by creating some kind of business on the side, and also my IT career where it seems that whatever direction I took, it ended up catching the last bus to nowhere.

    Luck, or Destiny, I believe plays a major role, if not THE role in how ones life turns out. I’ve chased down all the psychology and everything else, but at the end of the day, your “timing” will make the difference if you make the starting lineup, get the big paying IT job, or cash out in the “end”.

    But what I’ve learned, is that it isn’t the “end” result that matters. It’s not if you were the “best”, made the “most”, or were what passes for “successful” today.

    What I’ve learned is that the REAL value in life, is found “scene by scene” in YOUR story.

    You can’t enjoy ANY fiction story by skipping to the very end and seeing if the guy won or lost, got the girl, won the prize. Try it.

    What’s missing? Obviously all the scenes.

    It’s like going to the restaurant, not eating and just paying the bill.

    It’s the EXPERIENCE that matters, and what it means to you, what you learn from it, what you become as a result of being IN it.

    Because life is SHORT and what you will take with you is what you have become as a result of your experiences, your “scenes”. There is no right or wrong way to perform your scenes IF you realize that it’s what you are becoming as a result of your efforts–in the scene–that makes you who you are, and no longer who you used to be.

    I feel we waste most of our life just “sleep walking” through our scenes (days) without taking notice of what we can value from them. I suspect the main reason for this is life becomes very redundant and repetitive, and there’s no juice left in the moment (of said scene).

    Ideally this is when we need to change things up, change how WE see things and behave in these scenes. These scenes usually involve other people (bosses, coworkers, family, friends, lovers, strangers, and enemies…) and these people may be just as interested in changing things up as we are–because they are also bored and are no longer getting anything out of the “scene”.

    Then there are those that are profiting GREATLY by how the scene is, and that you are under their thumb and subservient to them. These types of people are NOT interested in changing, and quite frankly have lost the capacity to emphasize with your (others) perspective or situation.

    These types of people are found in charge of others and for whatever reason, the empathy seems to be replaced with a sense of “entitlement” for their superior (imagined) position in the scheme of things. In short, these people like their power and become greedy for it. The higher up the ladder you look, the more “driven” these types of people are. These people are not balanced yet will argue with you that they are. In fact, they have an answer for everything–because they ARE on top–hence they know more than you.

    This is the main reason that most people have no dreams because the world has crushed it out of them, specifically due to these out of balance “successful” types. These successful types of people blame all their crimes (of humanity, against Mother Nature) as “it’s just Business–nothing personal”.

    So how do you get your dreams back? On a personal note, one told me that he “lowered the bar” for what would make him happy. In a way, that kind of works. If the bar we set for ourselves is NOT attainable, then we won’t be happy. Ever. I think the bar has to be set with our curtain abilities kept in mind, just like you were to set goals for your Character in your Story.

    If the goals are unreachable–there’s no story. If the antagonistic force is too powerful (and you attack it straight on)–there’s no story. No story, no happiness.

    I think most people are overwhelmed by how life has changed (due to technology, monopolies by Big Business, overpopulation (it’s very crowded), life is very expensive money wise) and they’re thrown in the towel.

    Not by committing suicide. No, people shun that. Instead they live a life with no dreams.

    A life that IS dead and just going through the motions.

    **Which is why we love to read fiction about heroes with character arcs that grow and evolve them into being more than they were–and feel alive. Not to mention a good entertaining story!

  16. Robert Jones

    @Kerry–So true. Life IS a creative work. We can either “learn” to be creative with it, or just fall in line with someone else’s schemes.

    The learning part takes time. And having gone through a creative lifestyle on more than one adventure, it bother the hell out of me to see how the thought process has changed in the up-and-comers. The “hurry up” mentality that is preached about not having time for anything is really hurting some young people and newbies. The mindset is to skip all the steps possible on the learning ladder, toss off anyone in your way, and grab the high seat yesterday.

    This makes for a very ego-centered regime, and those pedestals they sit upon are very shaky. No real foundation. Miserable, most definitely, but nothing a few weeks in the Bahamas can’t cure now that you can afford it, right? Just don’t try to get them to think about a different philosophy. If it were possible, they’d prosecute for such an insult.

  17. Sara Davies

    A number of years ago, some old friends took me and my husband and son to a minor league game in Rhode Island. The fans loved their team. Nice, clean, grassy stadium with affordable seats and great views. A place for families to watch a great team play baseball in a beautiful open-air space – without all the nuttiness of the major league parks, without the hype and beer and cigarette butts and batteries tossed and drunks throwing up on the outfield. It felt that that’s was the way it should be.

    Love this story. Larry’s tear-inducing line above is, for me, about how to not have a dream is to be dying. Larry, you made me cry. Very cool.

    Not sure I ever exactly had dreams. I was a weird little kid, fuzzy around the edges, floating on the outside looking in. My family constantly criticized me for being “anti-social,” “withdrawn,” “shy” and socially awkward. I’m an introvert with a low stimulation threshold, and feel most at peace when I’m alone. The perfect temperament for a creative person.

    Everyone said I “should be” an artist. By the time I was five years old, an artist is not what I wanted to “be,” it was my identity, and there was no question that I was going to study art throughout high school and college, and then…make art. Which is exactly what I did. I didn’t worry much, if ever, about whether or not I was good at it – nor did I ever take great pride in it – it’s just how I am. People said I was talented, and I believed them. I learned the skills and improved. I had some good teachers, including one who helped me arrive at the process that became my recipe for reliable production of my best quality work. I didn’t worry about becoming successful. I just did it. Because I wanted to, in the moment. I enjoyed the process until I got older and started doing “serious” work, with often depressing content. I felt conflicted about putting that kind of content into the world. But then I had a child, gave up my studio, and gradually that part of my life fell by the wayside.

    Some day, when my kids are out of the house, maybe I’ll pick up a paintbrush again. No one in art ever really proves anything to anyone. As with most professions, there are insiders and outsiders, but I don’t have much interest in jockeying for position in any arena.

    I will define success with writing not by publishing but by finishing. When I can finish writing a book, I’ll have the skills to write and finish another book. As with making art, I care most about the process that leads to making the final product match my vision. I care about doing my best with the resources that are available to me. I will know whether or not I have achieved that goal when I finish telling the story I want to tell.

    My whole life has been learning to build “success” from the inside. That may have begun due to my realization that I could never be externally successful, because I’m different in a way that there is no room for in the broader culture. The world never seemed to want me. As a result, I have had to reach down inside of myself and choose not to view myself as “broken” – regardless of labels others might use. Try living an entire lifetime as a “weird” person, and you find yourself forced to define your own values and metrics. There is strength in that, because at some point, there has to be…and the focus shifts away from what doesn’t work, to what does work, and how to make it work better.

    Love what you love, and create what you create for its own sake, because you believe in it. As Robert Fritz wrote, “The creator loves the creation before the creation exists.” I think of the creative process as spiritual. And as one prayer suggests, “May you be who you are, and may you be blessed in all that you are.” The rest of it, the external kudos, is just icing on the cake.

  18. We dont have baseball in New Zealand, but we do have talent. I am surrounded by it.

    This post was awesome. Inspiring. Motivating. I am going to print it out.

    Thanks Larry

  19. HI Tessa,

    When I clicked on your name this is what I found.

    “This Domain Has Expired, To Renew Please Contact Your Provider.”

    And, I was a little confused about what your were selling. The blinking sign telling me it was no joke reminded me of the early days of webpages.

    Bummer. No baseball.

    Cheers

  20. Lynette

    Thank you for today’s inspiring post. You mentioned the importance of having a great coach to help you be the best that you can be. That’s true in writing as well as baseball, and you are a great writing coach … the best writing coach ever, plus you are a successful author. You have accomplished so much. Thanks for the time you take to share your invaluable lessons, witing advice and inspiration with us.
    As a former New Zealand ice skating champion, I know how much dedication and hard work it takes to reach your dream. I’m going to dig deep and apply that same dedication to my writing. .

  21. Great perspective. Well done, and thank your for sharing it.

  22. “What I wouldn’t give for five minutes in a room alone with that asshole, sans machete. ”

    I am so with you on that one, Larry. Grrrrrrr…

  23. MikeR

    Baseball, like writing, is one of those things in life that is =very= easy to ‘encounter’ (with a beer in your hand …), but much more difficult to ‘do.’ Yet, every fan can see himself on the field; Writer’s Digest sells plenty of books to people who will never actually do anything with them; and then … there are those … who … will.

  24. Sara Davies

    During the Nigerian email scams of a few years back – the ones that said they had to get 15 million dollars out of the country and they’d give you 15 percent if you could move it for them, “that is $1.5 million US dollars”….This guy in the UK said he answered the emails with the intention of jerking the scammers around, telling them that it was too dangerous to accept the money in cash, but he’d be willing to take it diamonds, gold, or lions. Turned the whole story into a book called “Delete This At Your Peril.” So, there is a story in every crazy experience.

  25. Wow, Larry. Fantastic post. Thanks for the beautiful words of inspiration! Every writer needs to read your blog 🙂

  26. Kenneth Fuquay

    Hey, Larry. Knocked yet another one out of the ballpark! Inspirational, poignant, keeping things real, motivating…you get the idea.

    Couple of days ago I finished reading all your posts here. I became a regular visitor last August, so it took awhile to catch up. I also devoured SE & am in the process of same with SP. I read all the comments to your posts and hope you are as bolstered and inspired as much as we are by you.

    Thank you for creating a sense of community as we all try to realize our dreams.

  27. How the clock ticks away at our all to brief lives! Your part pep talk part self misery only reminds me to keep locking myself away and working all the harder. Lately the real world has called me away far too much, but where there is a will there is a way…

  28. Mike Lawrence

    There’s no crying in baseball. Or writing. What I take from this immensely helpful post is that we all face the same mix of confidence, trepidation, skill, inability, shame and ultimately just plain uncertainty, as we struggle to assemble 80,000 words that have something to do with each other.

    What I see embedded here – and maybe I’m just seeing it all wrong – is the requirement to acknowledge the simple fact that not all of us are going to make The Shot. It’s simply not possible. And the response to that is something a little more deep than “If you don’t take it, you’ll never know” or some other coachy motto. What I read here is that The Shot is not only hard to get, but just trying to get it is hard as hell. The process of going for it is not like letting go at the top of a water slide or taking that one leap out of an airplane before opening your chute. It’s just not that easy. Going for it is a process, plagued by all the obstacles you remind us about. The reason that this post is so helpful is that we get confirmation from somebody who has made The Shot – twice – that all the trials and tribulations of this journey apply to every single one of us, even the ones who make it. Especially the ones who make it. And the brilliant Larryism here, one that I will tack to my forehead, is this: Just get on with it.

    BTW, minor league baseball is entitled, in every sense, to the classification of “success” when it comes to professional baseball. I used to watch the Albuquerque Dukes. Those guys got paychecks and everything. I don’t think watching the Dodgers would have been all that different. Besides, Albuquerque has better scenery than L.A. Either way, you were on the bookshelf at B.Daltons, so to speak.

  29. Robert Jones

    I think after reading through these posts, there are two common types of people congragating here:

    1) Those who aspire to the writing dream as a first time dreamer.
    2)Those who have tried something else with varying degrees of accomplishment, and turned to writing as a secondary dream/aspiration.

    Common bond: We all want to make that score Mike L. pointed out.

    To each individual, the score may vary. To some, it’s publication with a traditional publisher. Others may want to self publish. Some may want to simply satisy themselves. All valid, all parts of the same process.

    And yet, whatever your personal goal might be, I’ve never met a person, professional or otherwise, who didn’t have similar story when it came to the moment their big goal was met. It sounds something like, “I was just in the right place at the right time.” Or, “My first big break was an accident, I got lucky, somehow things just fell into place.”

    It’s a common story. It’s also a common misconception.

    Most everyone who has ever achieved success, publically, or privately, has gone through a lengthy term of learning, practicing, struggling to find the right ingredients that will allow them to achieve their goal. They ate it, bathed in it, slept with it until they learned enough about craft and lingo to become proficient–to come to an understanding about whatever they are doing and a certain confidence in their abilities.

    That moment where it finally came together, the moment when that first editor took a chance and gave them their first paying gig was no accident, and luck had nothing to do with it. They made it happen through study, by making an appointment with someone, a phone call…or whoever they met through the circumstances they started rolling with the moment they decided to seriously tackle that goal until it reached a moment of maturity. And that editor saw someone with a certain proficiency, a degree of confidence that came from those long hours of learning. Do you think people are handed jobs because they don’t know what they are doing and just walk through the door at the right moment?

    Don’t kid yourself. And don’t believe in coincidence.

    You make a promise to yourself and follow through with it for the duration. How many times have you also heard you should be persistant? I promise you that people with less talent and worse ideas than several people reading this will get published through sheer dogged persistence. Do you want to meet your writing goal? Then you have to decide right now that you are going to grab hold of this craft and work it until that moment occurs when everything clicks, or someone can look at you and make an assessment that you know what you are doing, have a reasonable knowledge of craft.

    I remember an art teacher who once told me that if I wanted to make it, I had to be willing to do the work and keep working. It will be everything but easy. Whatever you did for a living, or thought of as hard work, in any of the arts, you’ll work harder. But if you love it, it’ll also be the most rewarding work you’ve ever done.

    Like any marriage, or relationship, it takes commitment. And a certain knowing that you WILL do it. Because no one can stop YOU, not if you really decide this is what you want to do. But you have to decide where YOUR personal finish line will be and know it in your heart of hearts. Because that’s exactly where it will be–sooner or later. That’s a promise only you can make to yourself, and only you can do what is necesary to keep it, or take it away.

    Being in that number 2 category of people here, this is the sum of my experiences and observations.

  30. Sara Davies

    I think there IS crying in baseball, and wherever else people feel like crying. Plus whining, which has therapeutic value – often even to the people listening.

    I would consider a minor league baseball career to be majorly successful. I consider writing one book to be successful. And publishing a book. So how much more successful is it to publish several books? A lot.

    It’s easy to take for granted the things we do well that come naturally, or in which we’ve been immersed for so long they’ve become invisible to us, the way a fish in the ocean doesn’t see the water. It’s also easy and natural to want more. And more after that. It may be necessary – to keep reaching, to keep growing. Because if you don’t, some part of you dies, as we’ve established.

    But to make external success the hallmark of…well, success…in a creative endeavor, in my opinion, is to rob yourself of the value of completion. How is anything worth doing if you’re doing it because of what other people will think, or what kind of payoff it will have? You’ve got to love it, or why bother?

    There are things you can control, and things you can’t control. I know I will finish writing this book because that’s within my power…unless I fall into a black pit of despair and give up. But I don’t know if it will ever be published, so I don’t make that part of my goal.

    In juried art shows, it’s possible to get rejected from 9 shows and win first prize at the 10th, and this has nothing at all to do with the quality of the work. It – yes, sorry – does have to do with being in the right place, at the right time, with the right work, in front of the right person. If you know your work is of professional quality, and you’ve done everything in your power to take yourself to that level, that’s all you can do. It’s nice to get the kudos, but if you know your work is good, you don’t need them. You can “lose” with grace. Because you KNOW.

    I’m guessing part of the publishing equation is how many opportunities truly exist in relation to the number of people going after them. Easier to be a big fish in a small pond. When it’s an ocean, what are the chances? What it takes to truly show up in that field, and for how long, remains to be seen. The odds don’t sound good.

    But that’s not a reason to write. Or to do anything. I want to be good at what I care enough about to spend my time doing. That’s all there is.

  31. Robert Jones

    @Sara– That’s all very true. If you don’t love it, it’s quite likely you will never finish. And if you never finish, the candle is lost.

    Don’t get me wrong, nothing kills the creative spirit faster than mixing it with business. After a while, the joy can become lost to that business. Been there and done that and had to travel a long road to find myself again creatively. Still, many have a dream of publishing, and that dream too begins in the mind as a goal. Technically, it may be a second goal to finishing, but if that’s part of someone’s plan, I still believe it hinges on a decision, or mindset.

    Again, being in front of the right people at the right time is what will get some people through the door to exterior success. But every move we make, if that is our goal, turns a cog, creates a ripple effect, that eventually places you in front of those people with those circumstances.

    The first hurdle is always the hardest to navigate. And keeping one’s focus on finishing a project and doing it satisfactorily, especially on a personal level, really does need to be a primary focus. Whether you plan to write one book, or dozens, it all begins with the learning. You take one rung of the ladder at a time. And I think that goes for those who want to publish and those who don’t, or are uncertain.

    And for those who do dream big from the get-go, Sara has some extremely valid points. Once you get published, if you are under contract, it becomes your job. Without a certain skill level, a tough, or even impossible one. Then comes the risk of complacency over time if you don’t love it and keep finding ways to make it fresh. For even the best, it can become very pedestrian at times. The momentum you build and decisions you make now can either carry you a long way ( if done correctly), if not, they’ll carry you. Learn each step on the ladder, make it your own. Finish what you started.

    I never listen to those blasted odds, BTW. They are based on statistics, which are in turn based on the vast percentage of everyone from A to Z in the talent pool…most if which just decided to dive into the pool and thought they would magically float. No skills required. The small percentages of actual success rates in any market is due to the unfortunate fact that very few actually take the time to learn before diving in. It’s sad. I refuse to lump myself in with those kind of percentages…and Sara, neither should you. You have great ideas. I respect them, and your striving to get them right. Most of the floaters in the pool don’t have that sort of integrity to their art.

  32. Daniel

    @Robert Jones
    Hi Mate I am in Australia.
    I love Larry’s posts and look forward to them. He doesn’t just keep the dreams of your country alive its a lot bigger than that.
    This is one of the great things about the net that I in the land down under can tune into someone like Larry any time I like to search for some Wisdom. Larry is changing the idea of writing all around the world. That is huge. We are so lucky Larry did not become a pro player. Reminds me of a song about unanswered prayers. Because I could not tell who was the top number 1 BB player today. But I can tell you that there is one guy in a land far away whom Larry has given hope to.

  33. Robert Jones

    @Daniel–you are so right. My comment was a bit personal, and therefore a tad short-sighted. And I don’t mind admitting it one bit. Because the fact that one person can make a difference in lives around the globe is truly an inspiration to us all. Thank you for pointing that out.

  34. Daniel

    @Robert – That’s cool mate I just didn’t want to be forgotten all the way down here lol.

  35. Robert Jones

    @Daniel–How long have you been at writing? Been a while here. Several false starts and failures. But that’s okay. Every success, or new discovery, is built on a long line if failures. If you give up and go home home after the first few…well, let’s just say I’m glad writing offers more than three strikes. I’m closing in though, and learned something from every experiment. I never listen to contrary people, and don’t give up easily.

  36. Daniel

    @Robert – I have only just started been writing in my head for a long time. Just ideas going back and forth and then I found Larry’s page and thought that I could do it. I am planing on selling about 30 mil copies lol. I figure if you don’t expect that then you wont get it. (if you know what I mean) So like most others on the site it’s watch this space.

  37. Robert Jones

    @Daniel– I have trouble wrapping my mind around 30 million, but I’ve had my share of daydreams of writing huge best sellers. I think you’re right. You have to dare to dream, even if they are smaller dreams. It has to work in your own mind before you can make it possible. Then I’ll do 30 mil. On my second one…lol!

  38. Daniel

    @Robert – I think of it this way and its a fine line between arrogance and optimism. Believe me I don’t think I am so Good that I will sell that many but I like to believe in my story and that it could be that good. I figure if I set a goal saying hey I would just like to get published and that happens. We’ll it is a great achievement something many others have not done but you prob wont be able to quit your day job. I like to say why not me? Why can’t you or I sell 30 mil copies if the story is right. That is my goal from day one. Will it happen? I have no idea but I am going to have fun trying. Shoot for the moon and if you miss you may just hit a star.

  39. Daniel

    @ Larry
    Have you hit a star? I am assuming that you wanted a Pro baseball career. I don’t know who close you came from your blog but that did not come to pass. Could you say that BB is your Moon and Writing the star?

  40. Sara Davies

    @ Robert. Thanks for saying that. So, you get it. BTW, your suggestions helped, as I suspected they would.

    @ Daniel. If you’re just starting, Larry’s books are a great way to do it. Could have saved myself beaucoup time and grief had I known about them earlier.

  41. Daniel

    @ Sara – Hi Sara
    I have Larry’s books one of the first things I did after finding this site. Looking forward to the new one. I have read or tried to read a few how to read books and they were nothing like Larry’s I don’t think even those authors knew how they wrote. lol . Larry’s books make so much sense. The way he explains
    writing is what made me think that I could so all finger and toes crossed.

  42. Sara Davies

    @ Daniel. Absolutely all fingers and toes crossed. And I don’t think those other authors knew how they wrote, either. 😉 lol

  43. Olga Oliver

    @Sara Davies. Larry is not only a baseball person and a writer, he is also a therapist. I love parts of your first post in this group. In fact, your statement: “The world didn’t seem to want me” describes what my protagonist in my WIP is trying to say. And I’m going to plagarize your 7 words. Sue me if you wish. I’ll just say “she gave those words to everyone.” That paragraph–in which your 7 words flash– is loaded with several books. Look at all these posts that Larry’s gut words opened. This is what writing is about, in my opinion.

  44. Robert Jones

    @Daniel–You are absolutely correct in your attitude. I was fortunate enough to have a therapist at one point who was quite the expert in how the human brain functioned. He gave lectures on the subject. He was also a good guy who honestly wanted to help folks. It seems that truly the best in any field have this in common. So naturally, I was more than willing to pick his brain to figure out how I might better harness my own and make it work for me.

    One thing I learned was that there really is something to the whole law of attraction business. Your subconscious mind is a problem solver by nature. And whatever you program into it, that part of the brain will begin formulating steps to bring it about. For example, a very depressed, or negative mindset will bring about more of the same. It will subconsciously find ways to self sabotage one’s life in ways the person may not even be consciously aware that they are doing. Conversely, a strong possitive belief takes similar steps to bring about a like result.

    So if you truly believe you will be a best selling author, aim high and shoot for the moon, you will eventually land somewhere in that ballpark if you keep at it with determination and persistence. But you really have to believe it and work toward it. We learn by trial and error, and the subconscious processes all that iformation into the final equation. So even our failures bring about a positive result on how next to proceed. Like any scientific experiment, or new discovery, each failure also comes with some small positive result that better directs us into the next phase, where we pick up another piece of the puzzle, and so on, until the big picture finally manifests.

    The very process of writing and learning craft is a perfect model that all life immitates, or follows. Creation is happening every day in every aspect of life by a series of events that have probably been in motion for a very long time for each of us. Most aren’t aware of it and are stumbling through life (good or bad) by default, as if it were all a randon piece of good luck or a mine field they walked into unaware. The more aware you become of your own feelings, thoughts, and actions, the better you will understand this process is alive and well and working every day to bring about the result of whatever little gems or hellish nightmares you are bouncing off your mental walls. Hard for some people to swallow. Especially if life is handing you grenades. The first reaction is, “How the hell is this my fault?” But once you take blame out of the equation and begin to understand just how much crap we are force fed on a daily basis, then make careful choices for a better mental diet, you’ll discover ways to be creative for a more balanced life…create your own story.

    And if you are spiritually minded, this positive way of programming the subconscious is also what get you better in tune with the muse. I could give further examples on that score, but will defer to Kerry who is better read in this area than I.

    @Sara–Olga hit something very important for you squarely on the nose. What you are by nature is exactly what it takes to bring emotional resonance to writing. You have great ideas, and a passion that comes to the surface during your struggles. Eventually, once those ideas and passions decide to marry one another, I truly believe your writing will be dripping with emotional resonance that will bring about huge empathy for your characters on the page. Look how just one emotionally charged sentence inspired Olga to plagerize those words…LOL! That’s actually a very cool clue for your writing voice.

  45. Sara Davies

    @ Olga: Love your name. A lot of people feel like strangers in the world. It’s a common theme. Feelings have not yet been copyrighted, so have at it. Glad I could help. 😉

    @ Robert:

    Thanks. Really. Expectations can color experience – and interpretation.

    The most interesting and least woo-woo framing of the phenomenon you describe (that I have found, anyway) appears in the books of Robert Fritz – “The Path of Least Resistance,” and “Your Life As Art,” in which he compares and contrasts what he calls “the reactive-responsive orientation” and “the creative orientation.”

    In the first category, we have the dynamic that people try to react or rebel against circumstances (and are regarded as troublemakers) or they try to respond by adjusting themselves (which is viewed as being well-behaved and adaptive)…but that either of these methods of dealing with the world keeps the individual a victim of circumstances.

    In the second category of “the creative orientation,” choices come first. You clarify your vision of desirable outcomes, and structure the steps to create those outcomes, much as an artist goes about assembling the materials for a painting (e.g. I decide what the painting is going to be, collect my materials, take steps, evaluate my progress in relation to the goal, etc.)

    According to Fritz, the same approach can be applied to all aspects of a person’s life. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want. Focus on building a vision rather than on eradicating a problem. He talks about this in terms of systems theory. The idea behind “the path of least resistance” is that in any system has, built into it, the structure to encourage and support certain behaviors. A cow is not going to walk over the top of a hill if she can walk around the hill. Over time, a path gets worn where it’s easiest to go. If, structurally, the system we live in is designed to support certain tendencies, then that’s what people are most often going to end up doing. Similar to what Kerry is saying about people at the top, whoever “they” are.

    A recent example that comes to mind is a “service learning” program at my children’s schools. “Service” is defined as picking up trash by the highway. “Learning” is defined as studying amoebas under a microscope. “Service Learning” is supposed to involve applying academic skills to solving real world problems, like getting high school students to do research in water clean-up that they can document and report to a public agency. That’s what it’s *supposed* to be. But what has happened, over time, is that (I’m guessing due to a lack of resources, staff, or understanding of what this program is supposed to accomplish) we’ve ended up with a system where the schools say, “OK, Chad and Brittany, run out and pick up trash by the highway, and then tell us what you learned so we can pretend to the State that we fulfilled the requirement of educating you.” And what do you think happens? Students resent being treated like crap. Parents think the program is stupid. Everyone feels it’s a waste of time. But no one challenges it. Instead they resort to lying about their hours, getting other people to lie for them, or doing things on the up and up that everyone knows have no educational value whatsoever. Then it becomes a situation where on a systemic level, the people who are most creative and skilled at lying and cheating are rewarded by having to do the least amount of work, and are ultimately celebrated for their refined ability to bullshit. As my husband says, “the good liars become President, the bad liars end up in jail, the successful honest people clean the toilets of the rich, and the unsuccessful honest people clean the toilets in the jails.” Well, he was kidding, and that’s a pretty grim statement, but the situation, to me, is emblematic of the ways in which bureaucracies, governments, institutions, etc. deteriorate over time, as they become more invested in perpetuating themselves than in serving the population or mission they were established to serve. At which point, everyone’s paying lip service to maintaining this giant thing that doesn’t work – everyone is either lying or indifferent, just trying to get through the thing so they can check it off their list. I see this as a fantastic example of a system that is structurally designed and doomed to fail and generate negative results. But most left-brain people look at something like this and go after the liars. Root them out, make those bad people stop and get with the program. Never mind that they’re being asked to do something pointless, degrading, and totally non-educational – rules are rules. But like I said, that only leads to the glorification of skilled lying or the demoralization of people trapped in degrading circumstances. What needs to happen is a complete restructuring of the requirements.

    So, Fritz advocates keeping the focus on the desired outcome and being objective about where you are and what you need to specifically do to get where you want to be, and to form a regular habit of checking to see if the methods you are using are actually producing those results. And if NOT, re-evaluate and CHANGE your approach. Don’t keep doing the same thing wrong and expecting better results. Everything flows from the goal first, at the top of the hierarchy, down to the methods and techniques employed to achieve that goal. The only thing that stays permanent is the goal.

    This requires a high degree of clarity about the goal and a commitment to trying every possible step to get there, and the willingness to abandon what is not working. Primary goals are an end in themselves. Secondary goals are a means to an end.

  46. Robert Jones

    @Sara–Brilliantly stated!

    Now if only people could get by their egos to follow those guide lines. The higher up the chain you go, hence the more powerful a person becomes, the harder it is to let go of the faulty paradigm–especially when the ego has been rewarded by accolades in the form of billions in cash. It’s a catch-22 for those people. Because those who took a better look at the problem, made the requisite adjustments, would actually gain more in the end result. But that involves risk, or rocking the boats of other ego-centered players.

    Resistance can be a powerful form of energy, and problems are sustained and perpetuated when given such energy to feed on.

    This could (and should) be applied to villains in every story, or any character who has trouble getting around themselves.

  47. Olga Oliver

    @Sara and Robert above – if you want to read a story that shows exactly what your words above say, read John leCarre’s latest novel “A DELICATE TRUTH.

  48. Sara Davies

    @ Robert….before I went off on a tangent, my original point was going to be something like…there’s this kind of New Age positive thinking, putting good vibes into the universe, think and grow rich, change-your-thoughts-and-the-world-will-be-great stuff that can fall into the realm of magical thinking by promoting the idea that individuals have more power than we do. Hence, the reasoning goes, if you “fail” it’s because you didn’t use your magic enough – you weren’t sincere enough, your faith wasn’t strong enough. The same kind of thinking ties into the belief that people who have good things are inherently more deserving because they got all their magical and karmic ducks in a row. But I like your attitude – know what you want, go for it, don’t settle for less, plan to win, believe you can win. Surely that will lead to a more positive outcome than my habitual defeatist mentality. I’m with you on that. I’ve never thought I could win at anything. So when I have won, either didn’t notice or didn’t see it that way. Thank you for that. However, as great as the notions of free will and personal responsibility may be, there are forces at play that are larger than one person – networks of interconnected systems that push and pull on each other. From within the recognition of limited personal agency, what Fritz talks about is empowering in that he takes into account what is measurable and verifiable at every stage in the development process. I recognize that a good attitude can be effective in counteracting the filter most of us have that prevents us from seeing things as they are (where no matter what we see, it tends to prove what we already believe, hence is difficult to change). I think I was trained to expect very little out of life – the silver lining of which is that any time something good happens, I tend to be amazed and profoundly grateful. Might sound kind of pathetic, but does tend to produce a few miracles here and there. You can only do what you can do. Do your best. If it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you failed or that you were wrong to shoot for what you wanted. Having said that, from what I know of your project and your creative thought process, I don’t see any reason why you can’t succeed. I don’t mean to be a downer. I am totally rooting for you. I hope you know that. If anyone can do it, I believe you can. It’s just stuff that I wrestle with personally. I have to make my work an end in itself or it’s unsustainable.

    @ Olga: Will check it out.

  49. Robert Jones

    @Olga–Sounds like something that should go on my furture reading list. Thanks!

    @Sara–I may get on my shout box and spew advice, but I’m also a staunch advocate of people finding their own way–and of trying to find practical solutions that can help people discover that path around their mountain.

    I’ve had too many people give me well-intended advice that was either too generalized, or personalized to their own tastes. Tough not to generalize in an open forum. But I hope people will weigh what I say and maybe find a few pieces that can fit their personal puzzle, or be adapted into their own process.

    We all have our ways of testing data. Heck, we all have walls and filters that most data needs to find its way around. But I think in your own life, if it were mapped as a creative chart, you would probably see how much you’ve learned and taken from the things you’ve experienced. I don’t want to write a chapter linking personal experience to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but there’s certainly truth to be found there.

    We see ourselves one way, and the rest of the world sees us another way. But if I see an intelligent woman with a passion to be creative, then I would say compared to the average “Walking Dead Zombie” I might meet at on a shopping excursion at the local Walmart, I would say your life has been more successful than many in my town.

    Someone else might see you as not being rich enough, or a hundred different things depending upon the individual doing the observing. It’s all subjective. And yet, even the Walking Dead have their own path to find, their own course to chart. Who the hell am I to call them uninsteresting?

    All I know for certain is that at some point, we all have to find a certain contentment in what we do, who we are, and follow our hearts to wherever that heartline leads. And enjoy its hidden treasure, chief desire, or dream, no matter how foolish others may think it is.

    Talk about reestablishing better criteria for a broken paradigm. Should the lower rungs of the ladder be envious of the upper? Should the upper look down upon the lower? Or should we all try to support one another as a unified instrument? A ladder is not made of all lower steps, or high ones. If so, it becomes useless and loses its primary function.

    Locate then your purpose. Serve it well and to the best of your ability. Who can really do more? And never apologize for it once you’ve discovered who you are. I would say if the people you’ve associated with didn’t want you, it may be because you were either around the wrong people, or they were afraid to face the mirror you were holding up to some part of their own lives by your actions.

    A simple question to ask yourself is: If you followed their example, would you be smarter, better, happier in some way? Or, if they followed your example, do you think some of them would have learned something, been less miserable, a little happier on some level of life?

    It seems to be an inescapable part of life that people make everyone who is either creative, or wants to do something different with their lives, feel like a freak. Many of my own family members were like this. They would down anything creative as somehow useless, or even downright strange. Meantime, they would live in front of the Boob-Tube watching their favorite shows as if they appeared there by magic, and not through someone’s creative endeavors.

    And yet, this is exactly the stance society puts creators in…the magicians behind the curtain of the TV, movie screens, or books pages, heard but never seen, nor given due credit. Unless you’re the superstar that matches the current image of stardom…as dictated by whatever lame reason resides atop the flagpole that currently waves the flavor of sex-appeal this week.

    Live and let live. Everyone has a right to do so, provided they can tell the difference between their choices and those dictated to them as popular. But don’t judge yourself either. You’ve made choices, and will continue to make them. Many others can’t make them, or are afraid to. And therein lies the key to much judgment.

    One family member, big downer on all things creative, once was observing me painting a design on a wall. He stated that he couldn’t do that. When I asked him why, in a moment of truth came an answer that made many things clear. He said, “I would be afraid.”

    And if afraid to mess up paint on a wall that can easily be painted over, how much more afraid has this guy been of making decisions in life? Talk about finally gazing into the mirror I was holding up to this guy.

    Fear, discomfort, envy, jealousy…it’s really all the same animal. But what people don’t realize is that if we actually did support one another instead of taking pot-shots, we would all be a little more brave, maybe a little more creative in our choices. Possibly even a little happier in our lives. So much of what we carry around is based on the misrepresentations of someone else’s fears.

    As writers, aren’t we exposing this in our stories? Communicating a greater truth disguised as fiction? And maybe that’s why we write. Because we want to bring some clarity to the muddle of confusion the rest of the world can’t seem to find the words to define. Ease a few hurts…including our own.

  50. Sara Davies

    @ Robert:

    Getting that raw emotion and perspective into fiction – what’s the conversion process? So far, the part that does itself – the setting, the ideas – and some exercises for investigating what the character would be feeling in each scene, spewing out the possibilities, picking the better ones. Guesswork, sometimes. Figuring out what seems to ring true or not. Which takes time and is not always obvious on the first or fourth try. Painting is kind of the same way – trying this, moving that, losing objectivity. I have emotional juice that I can’t necessarily stuff into the framework of a story the way I would like. I have no trouble accessing *my* feelings (which seem to be relentlessly available), but how to put them in that format, translate them metaphorically and funnel them into a particular scene…how to capture that stuff and make it do what I need it to do is one of the many hurdles.

    You’ve proposed an interesting mission, though – the best stuff I’ve read, the books that make a lasting impression, tend to offering some kind of emotional release or an affirmation that life is worth the effort. I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do but I’m not sure I’m actually doing it…and probably won’t be able to tell until I’ve written every scene and can see the whole story. That doesn’t come out well in outline format.

  51. Sara Davies

    If I were following the example of people who think I’m a freak, would I be happier? No. If they followed my example would they be happier? Maybe.

    People who do “all the right things” and are not happy tend to be pretty bitter toward people who don’t do all the right things, whether we’re happy or not – as if it’s my fault they didn’t do what they really wanted. You know what I mean.

    In college we used to say it’s better to among the walking wounded than the living dead. Not sure I’d put it so melodramatically now, but like you, I don’t know what the average zombie does with his or her time, or what the rationale is for doing those things, or what it would feel like to be comfortable in that environment. I can only say that it looks calmer and simpler than what I’m used to dealing with, although I would be bored and would not be able to tolerate it. Does that make them wrong? No. It’s just a different world.

    There are no holidays from being myself. So, how to manage? Art is one application. Writing is another. If I can figure it out, I think I would be happy to finally have an outlet that channels all the the crazy stuff (not just part of it, but all of it) – the emotional kaleidoscope and the brain that won’t shut up even on the best of days. If I have to be a live wire, chronically exhausted, overwhelmed, and flooded – I want to be able to use that frenetic monster for something good. That’s like the holy grail for me right now. There’s a glimmer of hope in thinking that maybe this *thing* can have a purpose where it’s more blessing than curse.

    Anyway, enough about that. You’re brilliant, as usual. I really appreciate your insights.

  52. Robert Jones

    @Sara–You’ll find a way. I think it’s like finding a style in any art. You absorb as much as you can of reading similar styles you aspire to, or just a little of everything. The basic philosophy in the art school I went to was to cram as much as possible into your head (which you seem to be doing already). We literally had 10 classes per week, two per day, in which two assignments were due and two new ones given. Just about everything in the graphics art community was represented.

    It was like book camp for artists. Many couldn’t take it and dropped out by half, or better, of the students within six months. Those who stuck it out felt like they were on overload by the end of the year. Our heads were a jumble of information that seemed like stuff we would never use and many were just confused as hell.

    But the philosophy was that knowing all that went into who you would eventually become as an artist. You took the summer off and allowed things to digest. And by the following year, you suddenly started doing things you didn’t do before in your art. You were broader because of it all. And your style still became a fusion of those things you liked and wanted to do, but you were so busy absorbing all that other information, you almost didn’t recognize the moment it happened.

    You once said that we are our stories…which is true. But the reverse is also true. Our stories are us. Meaning, we are as much of an art project internally as anything we create externally. All we learn and do over a lifetime goes into that internal canvas and eventually creates a portrait of who we are in life, and as creators. It doesn’t happen quickly, and I’m not even sure there’s a formula for it. Certainly the process of anything is a greatly untouched subject. But like Larry’s analogy of a good story being like a recipe isn’t too far off. You have to add the ingredients you like, do the work, but nature blooms in it’s own time, on it’s own cycle. Sometimes all we can do is keep ourselves on simmer and wait until the internal soup starts to boil.

    I have a lot of random techniques on generating ideas and conjuring a voice with emotional resonance. I would like to work them into something more fluid and universal for everyone. Guess I’m still waiting for soup on that score as well. But if you get stuck, let me know and I’ll share some more tid-bits.

  53. Robert Jones

    BTW, my questionnaire finally went off to see the Wizard!

  54. Larry~
    I’m a bit behind on my email reading this month, and admittedly I have deleted quite a few. However, something about this title discouraged my finger from the trash can icon every time I considered it. I’m so pleased that fate / opportunity/or perhaps God himself kept a firm hand holding me back from discarding this post.
    When I finally opened it today I thought… What a gift! It is timely and perfect and I needed to read every word of it and feel the full force of the message.
    Thank you for sharing your “wrinkled old throat” as if all of us were around a table having beers and shooting the breeze. You made my day 🙂

  55. Pingback: Saturday Edition – What We’re Writing and Reading | Live to Write - Write to Live