Monday, March 2, 2009
WHY WRITING IS A LOT LIKE HOCKEY
So this weekend, I attended three, yes, count them, three hockey games. I watched my daughter's team win their final game in a thrilling last second victory. I watched my daughter's high school boy's team get creamed in a game that I hope will spur them on in the championships they are headed to on Wednesday. And I watched my college daughter's team win a thriller against a team that was ahead of them in the standings.
So while I was watching all these hockey games, it occurred to me that hockey is actually a lot like writing. First, to be good at hockey, you have to practice. No big brainer there! But I remembered people asking me what I did when I first moved to Boston. When I told them I wrote, they asked me what I'd published. When I told them I wasn't published yet, they always gave me this sad, little smile. Isn't she cute? But what they didn't know was that I was working hard - perfecting my craft. Just like you will find a dedicated hockey player alone on the ice or on some local frozen pond when everyone else has gone home, I was working hard at getting better.
And yet to be in the game, you can't really go it alone. It takes teamwork in writing as much as in hockey. Even before you reach your goal, you will need coaches who are willing to look at your skills and tell you how to improve. My books would not be what they are today without my editor, my sales team, my writing group and my hockey-fanatic, manuscript-critic husband there to support me - giving me that assist, passing me that puck and cheering me on as I flew down the ice
Saturday afternoon, while I watched the Andover boys get penalty after penalty, I felt their pain. How often had I got rejected just when I thought my goal was in sight? How many times had I gone offsides, lost my way in a manuscript that needed just a little more tweaking, just a little deke to the left or to the right that would have made my story that much stronger, that much more publishable?
And those refs - the ones that control the game without any input from you? Well, I've had my fair share of book reviews I'd love to have argued about. But as with hockey, it is far, far better to let them do their job, thanking them for their hard work and dedication to the game whether you like their decision or not. For while you may get bad calls one day, the next game that same ref will hand give you a power play that might land your book on the best seller list.
And in the end, there is nothing sweeter than watching the puck hit the back of the net or seeing your book hit the shelves. So no matter where you are in the process, published or unpublished, remember you will lose some games and win others. But the joy of it all is in the game itself and the knowledge that there is always hope in the next season and the next book.