Friday, June 18, 2010
GO FOR THE GREEN
By observing a game and listening to the commentator, I knew the golfer used several clubs. Besides the putter, the exact role of each one eluded me, but that seemed like an easy thing to learn. Like any game, it was replete with rules and penalties.
“Sure, I will,” she replied.
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 said, patting me on the back.
“I know the object is to get the ball in the hole, but what are the procedures, the rules? And how do I hold a club?” I asked.
She was dead serious. Some coach she is, I muttered to myself.
In a nutshell, though, that’s it.
I’m a fast learner, so after a couple of years of playing and improving, 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 one wrote a novel, and if one did, how could one have it published. I remembered my coach’s plan concerning golf, so I applied it to writing: “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 a variety of methods to get the ball in the cup--drives, fairway shots, chipping, and putting. If the player utilizes all the methods correctly, he’ll enter a good 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 golfer—or writer—allows uncertainty to creep in, her game and attitude vanishes.
Many pro golfers, especially the world’s best players, subscribe to the mantra, “Never lay up.”
When a long shot over a hazard faces the player, he has two choices: hit the ball close to the hazard so 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’ll study the situation, choose the correct club for the distance, take his stance with confidence, and…go for the green!
Each hole is a clean slate. Other holes are history.
Each new blank page 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. A professional golfer always strives to win, but realistically, he knows he will lose far more games than he will ever win. Even so, he will gain something from every tournament.
Understand, though. I love to win. Oh, yes, I absolutely do. Whether the prize is one dollar, a golf ball for the week, or the quarter pot, I go all out. In past years, I even won a few local tournaments and received very nice trophies, money, and gifts. Some of the other participants would say, “Wow, you come out here to win, don’t you?”
My answer? “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. But what happened when I went home from a tournament without a prize? Nothing. I always viewed playing golf as a privilege few can enjoy, so if someone else won, I’d congratulate her, go home, and I was still happy. But just wait until the next time.
So it is with writing and submitting manuscripts. If I must be unhappy or angry, I’ll do so concerning something important, such as world hunger or senseless crimes.
Every day, I strive 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!
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print
SHOWDOWN IN SOUTHFORK—eBook
ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS-eBook and Print