A Writing Pep Talk

When I was a kid, I didn’t want anything more in life than to become a big league baseball player. Every night I’d fall asleep dreaming about hitting a home run in the 9th inning of the World Series to win the game for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had this dream in Elementary School all the way through High School.  As you all know, it never happened.

That doesn’t mean all that time I spent practicing baseball, worrying about baseball, and playing baseball was wasted. I mean, I got to spend a lot of time with my Dad playing catch and practicing hitting, as he coached many of those years, and when he wasn’t officially coaching me he was still throwing me batting practice. Then there was my Mom, who bravely stood “at the plate” while I practiced pitching in the back yard. I felt terrible when I hit here on my first pitch, even though now I say she was crowding the plate.

I also learned teamwork in my failed attempt at athletic glory. I learned that sometimes being a part of something bigger than myself can be just as good as personal glory.

Well, many of you share a dream with me now. We dream of “becoming writers”. We dream of having our work published, and of seeing our names on the spine of some book in a bookstore. We dream of making money doing something we love, and quitting our day jobs (even if we like them too).

What happens if we don’t make it? Is all that time lost? Should we not bother trying at all? What defines success and failure anyway?

I say we forge ahead, even if the likelihood of being published never happens. That’s out of our hands anyway. What is in our hands is how hard we try, how much we work on our craft, and how we feel about ourselves.

What if you do finish that novel? That’s more than the vast majority of the people in the world can say. What if you finish that novel and give it to your family and it touches them? What if you finish that novel, shop it around, and when that doesn’t succeed you post it on your blog? What if somebody downloads your novel from your blog and it changes that one person’s life? Or what if it doesn’t change their life, but it brightens their day? Have you really failed?

Anyhow, I don’t have the answers to these questions. It’s different for everybody’s situation, I guess. It was just something that went through my head as I was chasing my baby son across the room, trying to get a diaper on his naked bum. At least I eventually succeeded in that.