Writing wisdom from a drunken fictional baseball player
My wife and daughter were watching A League of Their Own the other day–on of the few movies she and I have ever agreed on and saw together in the theater. In it, Geena Davis’s character, Dottie Hinson, walks away from her team just before the World Series because her husband returned home from the war. Or so she said.
Except Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan character called her on it, at which point she said, “It just got too hard.”
I can empathize. This spring is upon us–in other words, it’s the time of year when school activities pick up and my parents are down and the time and energy devoted to writing can lag. (Also, the past two years, it’s the time when injuries have prevented me from working out which takes time, but also makes my demeanor and writing better–but that’s a different blog post.)
When you’re scratching to get a couple hours a week in writing time, and you spend half of that just remembering where your story and characters were, and the other half writing crap… When you just can’t make a three-word sentence flow, let alone an entire short story or novel… When every single word you type seems like cliched crap… When these things happen, it’s hard.
It’s mentally the equivalent of insomnia deep into the night. It’s the equivalent of facing your thirties (or later) without any serious relationship and without any prospects. It’s like being in a relationship where every single thing you say or do is the wrong thing.
In other words, it’s hard. Sometimes it seems you’ll never write anything decent ever, ever again. It seems like a waste of time and energy, and that you’re a fool to continue down that road.
If you’re there now, or if you get there in the future, that’s where stupid words from a largely forgotten movie’s fictional character come alive (modified slightly to apply to writing, not baseball).
“Quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Writing is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that.”
(At which point Dottie says, “It just got too hard.”)
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”
Sure, maybe you’re struggling, but everyone’s struggled. Stick with it. Today’s struggle could be tomorrow’s breakthrough. But you’ll never know if you cut out on it.
And when you make it work, you already know that’s worth all the struggle. Because the struggle is improvement. It’s your mind trying to accommodate what you’re learning against what you already do.
The hard is what makes it great.