Friday, June 18, 2010


Got Game? When I turned forty, I decided to learn to play golf. Every woman’s magazine and self-help book urged me to “broaden my horizons,” because at my age, life’s progress from now on would be all downhill. Learning a sport seemed like the perfect avenue to stay fit and involved with the world.

I knew absolutely nothing about the game, but it fascinated me. Instead of watching football or basketball on television, I watched golf tournaments. The players became almost like friends; I knew each name, his place of residence, marital status, and family. I kept up with the World Rankings of the top PGA players, hoping “my guy” stayed in the top ten, or the rookie contender whom I followed managed to win against all odds.

The game looked relatively easy. The entire process resembled a ballet, slow and easy, no running, jumping, or tackling, all acted out in an atmosphere of polite actions and rules and decorum. Spectators remained politely silent as a player took his stance. Best of all, the sport required the player to hit a ball that stayed in place. This seemed much better than trying to hit or catch a moving ball. I don’t particularly like the idea of an object flying toward me that I must hit, kick, or catch.

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.

So, I asked my good friend and women’s golf coach, “Will you teach me to play golf? Even though I haven’t an athletic bone in my body?”

“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.

“It’s simple,” she said. “Just hold the club by the grip, hit the ball toward the direction of the green, go find it, and hit it again.”

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!
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print



  1. Great advice, Celia. I occasionally have self-doubts, so I'll try to remember your advice.

  2. Ah Celia, and this is why you win, because you intend to!

    I could use some of your competitive streak, I think. I've always played to play, and winning is nice but not often my goal. For me it's the journey. That's all well and fine, but maybe I'll follow your coat-tails a bit and start thinking, "WIN!" ;-)

  3. CAROLINE--we wouldn't be human if we didn't self-doubt. I'd like to know one person who never does. It's good to help each other out! Celia

  4. LORAINE--people seem surprised when they find out I have a killer instinct! Not really, but I like to win. If I don't? I don't dwell on it and allow it to ruin my day...or my life. Try it! You might like it. Celia

  5. Great post, Celia! I love the analogy equating golf and the writing life. So true.

  6. Celia, this was a wonderful blog. I love the way you compared the game of golf with the "game" of wiritng. I share you competetive spirit but too often see the glass as half empty instead of half full. But you have inspired me today to think "win." Thanks for the added motivation. Linda

  7. uh, that comparison is with WRITING. Foggy brain this morning. Too many hours in the kitchen entertaining guests!

  8. Great advice, Celia and what a unique way of presenting it.

    I started playing golf when I met my second husband. He's a great golfer. Me, not so much. I'm better with a pen. I go golfing with him to provide him with entertainment. LOL.

    Glad I stopped by today. AJ

  9. Thank you, Melanie. You can equate just about anything with writing, if you think about it.Celia

    Prashant--ahhh, don't we all suffer once in a while with self-doubt? Doing something about it is the key--you can allow your doubts to stop you, or you can find a way to believe you can succeed in your most difficult task. Good luck to you, Celia

    Linda--it's all a game, isn't it? And, my dear, you're very good at it! And isn't it fun to win?? Celia

  10. AUTUMN--I'm glad you stopped by, too. Golf is great fun--the most fun I've had doing almost anything. I loved playing with my friends, and I loved competitions--see? I played to win. The friend who taught me to play said I was "a money player." Even playing for dimes, I'd do my best to win 30 cents! Put money down, and I'd go for the green every time. (Now, too many joint problems to fool around on the golf course.) Celia

  11. I've never played golf. I just could never get the idea. But getting some walking exercise is wonderful for you! It's nice to see someone enjoy it. Me, I like my garden!

  12. Green rocks, Celia. I've tried to play golf and I LOVE it. It's a bunch of fun, but I'm not that good at yet. It's hard to find time to play with my crazy schedule. I'm glad you had a chance to play and enjoy!


  13. Exactly! I like your attitude...Why would I come out here to lose? And yes, golf is for the privileged few...and it used to be for even fewer. Did you know it meant Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden? I bet you could show them a thing or two, Celia. Maybe you could write an historical where a woman--Starr?--takes up golf! Learns it back east and takes it home to the ranch or something. Easy peasy!