“Life is not a spelling bee, where no matter how many words you have gotten right, if you make one mistake you are disqualified. Life is more like a baseball season, where even the best team loses one-third of its games and even the worst team has its days of brilliance. Our goal is not to go all year without ever losing a game. Our goal is to win more than we lose , and if we can do that consistently enough, then when the end comes, we will have won it all.” Harold Kushner, Becoming Aware
Oh, those spelling bees! Standing up in front of a class and racking your brain for the right combination of letters for words you’ll probably never use. How lucky we are that we’re past all that and that, instead, we’re on the field of play where we get lots of at bats. And how comforting to know that we don’t have to “win” all the time to reach our goals.
We may ink slingers, not baseball sluggers, but we still have to get out and play every day, swing our hardest, and run our fastest. And like even the best team, we’re going to lose about one out of three “games”we play: We’re going to strike out, have slumps, fumble some plays.
As writers, this may mean that we’ll have some writing sessions that are just wipe-outs — times when we just can’t seem to get off home plate and we feel stalled and upended. It may mean that projects we love will fizzle out and we’ll have to put them aside for a time. It may mean that we’ll endure lots of rejection during our submission phase: To beat the odds, we’ll have to adjust our “batting” strategy and change our approach.
But there’s lots of good news here. First, if we are working steadily and consistently, then we are giving ourselves lots of at bats — lots of opportunities to get into the flow, to take that big swing, and hit a home run. Second, it means that every strikeout brings us closer to a big hit: If we just keep on swinging, the law of averages will come to our aid. And third, it means that we don’t have to be great or brilliant all the time. Just like a star baseball player, we’re entitled to and even expected to miss a lot of balls. Our job is to not get discouraged, not get down on ourselves, to take the lows with the highs, and simply keep on swinging.
What a relief! We don’t have to hit a “home run” every day on the page. We don’t even have to get on base every day: We can strike out and come up empty — it’s all part of the game. All we have to do is get up to bat and give it our best shot. If we do that, at some point, we’ll hit the ball out of the park. Write on!