When I first sold my book, my first feeling was . . . Well, I don’t know what to call it exactly. Something like being lost while being put on the spot.
While my friends, family and acquaintances congratulated me, I just wondered what I was getting into, realized I had little relevant experience and, also, that much of my future was dependant on how this all shook out and that, most likely, it would shake out badly. But it was a shot.
I also didn’t have anyone to talk to about this.
Most authors, for whatever reason, marketing I assume, talk about what a great joy it is, what a great accomplishment, how their hard work paid off and all of that. I didn’t really feel any of that. I felt like I was supposed to feel that and wondered what was wrong with me. Maybe nothing?
I didn’t know anyone who had been through any of this. At least, I didn’t know them well enough to expect an honest answer. And books about writing and the so-called writer’s life gross me out. My priority was surviving the experience and the inevitable disappointment.
You see, getting something you’ve wanted can be a dangerous experience. It can make you lazy, arrogant, daft and, worst of all, believe that you earned it. Really, you were probably just lucky. You showed up –that was the work– the rest of it was lottery.
I don’t say that to take away from anything I’ve done. It’s just the fact is this — A lot of really good books never get published. There’s too many reasons for that to even touch on here.
And getting published is only the first step. It’s when the work begins.
I knew that much but only that much. So I did what I often do when faced with a writing problem. I looked at pitchers. I went to Chapters and bought a couple books. Not on writing but on pitching.
A lot of authors look at writing as being like boxing or bullfighting. To me, it’s always been pitching. You’re given the ball and, though you’re being watched, you’re alone on that mound. Totally fucking alone. No one will help you. At best, your catcher might suggest something.
It’s between you and that ball. You have to deliver it, make sure it does what it’s supposed to but once it’s out of your hands, it’s out of your hands. All you control is your delivery.
It probably makes no sense to regard writing as pitching but, if I was able to make sense of things directly, why the fuck would I write fiction anyway? I’d be on a boat some place.
The two pitchers that I studied with the most interest were Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum. Roy, for his focus and work ethic. He operates like a machine. Same routine every day. Counts his breaths between pitches, never thinks of the previous pitch or the one that comes after. All he controls is the ball in his hand, while it’s in his hand. The man is some sort of mad monk.
Lincecum because he’s THE FREAK. Nothing he does should work. He’d too small, his delivery is too weird, he’s probably high and yet he’s banked two Cy Young awards and a World Series ring.
He has no business being there. And yet, there he is.
If one thing is wrong, it’s all wrong. When scouting pitchers, Parks said Timmy’s unlikely existence hasn’t made it easier for other freaky pitchers because, when you see someone else who pitches as strangely as he does, when you understand how difficult it is, how rare of a creature he is, your first thought is that other person is not a genuine freak but a charlatan.
It’s easy to look like a freak. It’s tough to actually be one. They’re rare. Hence the term: Freak.
And this year, even Timmy has made being Timmy look tough. He hasn’t been himself. His season, just terrible. So bad that it’s rumoured he’s quit smoking dope. So bad that, when the playoffs began, he was kept out of the starting rotation.
But, out of the bullpen, he’s been fantastic. So, today, with his team sorely needing a win and the team’s other, more conventional, pitchers failing, San Francisco has called him out of the bullpen.
He starts today.
I can hardly breathe. I wonder how he feels.
Anyway, onto your owl pellets . . .
The Getting Blanked Podcast #78: Man, Dingos!: Starting at about 15 minutes in, the gang over at Getting Blanked had an interesting conversation about baseball narratives. These are the stories that affix themselves to the game, most of them false and manufactured by reporters and broadcasters.
It was an interesting conversation but the one thing I thought was missing was this: Why those stories? Why is it always about revenge and anger and the noble leader? To me, most of the mainstream baseball narratives sound like the propaganda of a war-like people.
Now, I’m not saying that’s done on purpose (though these days, when God Bless America has replaced Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch, who knows?) but rather these broadcasters go for the least controversial stories. The easiest ones.
The easiest stories being martial stories should concern us.
Portrait of Bertrand Russell — Norman Rockwell: It’s a fine thing.
TRÜTH, BEAÜTY, AND VOLAPÜK: “Arika Okrent explores the rise and fall of Volapük – a universal language created in the late 19th century by a German priest called Johann Schleyer.”