Tuesday, June 2, 2009


(Disclaimer: photo is not me)
Got Game? When I turned forty, I decided to learn to play golf. So, I asked my good friend and women’s golf coach to teach me the game. She said, “Sure, I’ll teach you.”
She took a small set of student’s clubs--and me--straight to the course, bypassing the driving range. “We’ll just start and see how you do,” she told me.
“I know the object is to get the ball in the hole, but what are the procedures, the rules?” I asked.
“It’s simple,” she said. “Just hit the ball, go find it, and hit it again.”
Ha-ha-ha! But she was dead serious. Some coach she is, I muttered to myself.
In a nutshell, though, that’s it.
After a couple of years of playing, I beat her almost every time. She always complained she’d taught me too well.
Years later—did I say how many?—oh, good, because I didn’t intend to—I thought to try my hand at writing a romance story. I wondered how to write a novel, and if I did, how could I have it published. I heard the words of my coach: “Write a story, send it to a publisher, then write another.” Easy-peasy.
Writing is like playing golf.
In a game of golf, the player uses drives, fairway shots, chipping, and putting to get the ball in the cup. Then, she adds her score.
In writing, the author uses plot, characterization, Point of View, pacing, and climax. Then, she submits and hopes for a contract.
Doubt will kill a golf round. The minute a player decides her ball will go in the water, I assure you, it will. When she chastises herself for making a wrong choice or missing an easy putt, she’ll add more strokes. If she decides she’s the worst player in the field, then she probably will be.
Once a writer—or golfer—allows doubt to creep in, her game and attitude vanishes.
Many pro golfers, especially the world’s number one player Tiger Woods, subscribe to the mantra, “Never lay up.”
When a player is faced with a long shot over a hazard, he has two choices: hit the ball close to the hazard, so that the next shot is easy and he will have a better chance of getting close to the hole. Or if he’s a strong-willed player and faces the same situation, he will take all the club he can, study the situation, take his stance with confidence, and…go for the green!
Each hole is a clean slate. Other holes are history.
Each new document is wide open to possibilities.
We all like to win--at golf or writing. But we’re not out to beat the field 100% of the time. We play to challenge ourselves, to best our own last score, to lower our putt average, and to lower our handicap.
Don’t misunderstand me, though. I love to win. Oh, yes, I absolutely do. Whether the prize was one dollar, or a golf ball for the week, or the quarter pot, I went all out. In past years, I even won a few tournaments and received very nice trophies, money, and gifts. Some of my playing buddies would say, “Man, you come out here to win, don’t you?”
My answer was, “Why would I come out here to lose?”
So, as it is in the game of writing and publishing, I came to play…and to win. So, what happened when I went home without a prize? Nothing. I always viewed it as a privilege few have to enjoy, so if someone else won, I’d congratulate her, go home, and I was still happy. But wait until the next time.
So it is with writing and submitting. If I must be unhappy, or angry, or jealous, I’ll do so with something important.
And so, I strive every day for a win, a contract, a prize, an award, a good review. Why would I do otherwise? But a rejection will not ruin my life.
Take my advice—go for the green. And smile.


  1. Celia,

    I absolutely enjoyed the positive message you've given in this article. BTW we have something in common. We're both teachers.

  2. Celia, I'm no golfer but I am a writer and I can see how your philosophy applies to that as well. And I'm going to share this blog with my husband who can relate to the references to golf. What a wonderfully positive attitude you have conveyed here. You are a winner in my book.

  3. Thank you Loretta,I feel we are definitely two of a kind.
    Thank you, Linda, my "sister", and oh, I hope your husband understands. Only a golfer will.

  4. Interesting analogy, but positive is the message.
    If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well!

  5. This is a wonderful post, Celia. I had to chuckle at your friend teaching you to play golf. I bet if she'd started with all the rules first, you might have played with inhibitions which going in cold freed you of.

    I admire your tenacity.


  6. Great post Celia,
    I enjoyed it, very sound sentiments too.

  7. What a fun post, Celia. I've never had the courage or skill to lay up, and I ALWAYS go in the water... Ya'd think I was shooting straight for it most of the time. Perhaps I really am. :-)

    Bess McBride

  8. Mary--thanks for stopping by. My sentiments exactly.

    Linda--Yep! She is a wise lady--funniest person on the face of the earth. She's a great story-teller, too.Thanks for your comment.

    Margaret--We can make a lesson out of anything, can't we? Thank you.


  9. Tee it high, let it fly. That's what my golf teacher told me. He told me a few other things like clip the tee and cock the wrists, but he was smart and didn't deluge me with all that stuff at once. Consequently, I won several longest drive contests, much to my surprise. I had no natural ability, just the naive faith that I could do it because my instructor believed in me. Later I realized it was more than that. He gave me the confidence to believe in myself. That is worth more than the cost of a hundred golf lessons.

    nice post, Celia!

  10. Bess--well, you know water acts as a magnet, don't you? Hole Number Nine on our course has a nice pond in front of an elevated green. For years, I'd hit and go in the water. Every time, I'd make some comment-"that happens every time!" One day, the woman I played with said, "Well, stupid, use a bigger club." Duh! Worked every time, except sometimes it would keep going and end up in the parking lot.Celia

  11. Celia,

    What an uplifting post.

    Thank you so much.


  12. I've only played golf once, but these are great comparisons! What a fun and new way to look at things.

  13. Hi Celia,
    Great advice! I go for the green every time - the invisible one right over the ball. Oh, no, that would be a whiff, not the green.

    Congrats on mastering both golf and writing!


  14. Celia, I love your story about "going for the green." I agree - it's important not to let a rejection bring you down. Keep writing. It's the best way to hone your craft.

  15. Celia,

    This is a great post. I really like your comparisons. I'm really not all that competitive, but I like thinking about every story being a new slate, getting up every day and writing stuff that people read and enjoy! Excellent post. Sorry I didn't comment yesterday--YAHOO was giving me fits. It hasn't started yet today, but it's early....

  16. Great post, Celia!

    I love the similarity between learning golf and learning to write. My favorite was, "Why would I come out here to lose?"

    Very nice!!

    It's truly amazing how our state of mind will affect our 'game', whether it be golf or writing or music.

    With a strange twist, I remember in my early twenties when I moved to Tahoe. My boyfriend and I were having drinks at a casino when a friend of his from work strolled up. He introduced us to video poker by saying, "It's easy. I usually just play for awhile to win enough for a nice dinner."

    Since I was a little toasty already, the suggestion sunk in without judgement. From then on I knew I could go and play for awhile, win about $30 dollars and then go buy dinner. Hilarious but true.

    Although I certainly wouldn't advocate such a method today *laughs* it certainly proved how much our beliefs and our attitude can influence what we create. Why would I play to lose? *wink*

    Again, GREAT post, Celia!

    Chiron O'Keefe
    The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com