Monday, December 8, 2014

On Golf and Writing: Not so Strange Bedfellows

Congratulations to Melodye Shore who won a copy of Leigh Sauerwein's book, River Music on last week's blog. I had originally planned to post another book giveaway this week, but this post practically wrote itself and I couldn't resist sharing it. Stay tuned--more giveaways coming soon!
"I had no idea how hard a game golf was, until I started trying to play," I wrote in a recent email to Rebecca Petruck, my book doctor/editor/cheerleader for Half-Truths

Writing that made me realize I've said the same thing many times about writing my first novel. Prior to starting Half-Truths, I had no idea how difficult and long the process would be. I just knew I'd always wanted to write a book for young people and if I wanted to do it, I better get busy.

I can't say I've had that same burning desire to play golf. This particular adventure was my husband's idea.
Creighton and I before teeing off.
December, 2013
As a child, I remember my father commenting that golf was a silly game which involved men chasing around a small white ball.

He was right and wrong. Golfers do chase around a small white ball. But occasionally, they also drive, chip, or putt it correctly and much to their delight--the ball goes into the hole. 

(posted on youtube by Cliff Hanger. I've done them all.)

It takes a ton of practice to be successful. Time on the driving range. Lessons. Time on the putting green. Persevering after taking a bad shot. Learning that even small "tweaks" in how I position myself in front of the ball,  (off my left foot, middle, right) how the club head is faced (open/closed/square) influence the outcome of where the ball lands. Sometimes you have to change your swing all together. Often you need a break away from your clubs. 

Novel writing parallels golf in surprising ways. It takes a ton of practice. Writing workshops. Time at the computer. False starts. Perseverance. Editing. Lots and lots of tweaking. For example, Rebecca commented on my third draft: "Carol, currently, the girls sound the same and are hyper-focused on fashion and skin color." 

Sometimes writers need to change direction as when Rebecca pointed out, "Think about the difference between rote description, and description that reveals something about the character. When you describe the external world around them, it has to be in order to reflect how they interpret it, what it means to them and how it feels.You write beautifully, but you’ve barely left yourself any room to do so between all the dialogue and descriptions of things like dresses and hairstyles."

And occasionally, writers need time away from the computer to gain a new perspective.  (Or to play golf!)

Both golf and writing take a ton of practice and perseverance. 

Today I golfed with a new friend-someone much better than myself-- who gave me great tips and some longer tees (another HUGE variable.) 
Cion Hueske

After I made the changes she recommended and drove the ball better, she congratulated me on listening to her advice. "Not everyone listens, you know," Cion said. "Lots of people think they already know everything." 

I shrugged and said, "I'm a beginner; I have a lot to learn."

Writing a novel has been the same. Before I started I was a beginner. Along the way I've found qualified teachers who've instructed and shown me what I didn't know. 

I've been willing to listen and correct my work. 

And I'm driven (no pun intended!) to improve both. Here's hoping that in 2015 I'll do just that. 

P.S. Another golfer commented, "Golf is like husbands: you have to be patient with both."

If you are a writer, what do you compare your writing to? If you're not a writer, what is your favorite simile or metaphor to explain your life, husband, children...or whatever? Please share!  


Linda Phillips said...

Hmmm, golfing certainly fits as a writing metaphor for you. By the way, was that you staring up at the sky searching for that tiny little white thing?? From this cozy writing corner, it looks to me like hammering out words on a keyboard is a whole lot easier than the damage I would do with that club, ha! But I commend you for your hard work on both levels!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, LInda! Not me in the video--but I've been there plenty of times!

Gretchen Griffith said...

Writing and golfing. That would be me! One thing I have realized, sinking a putt is like finding the exact word to fit in a sentence. Thrilling.

Rosi said...

It depends on the day. Some days I would describe it as being keel-hauled. Other days like para-sailing, floating above it all. Unfortunately, there seem to be more keel-haul days than para-sailing days.

Carol Baldwin said...

Sinking a putt- yes, that's it, Gretchen! Perfect simile. And Rosi- I had to look up keel-hauling. Ugh. I like the parasailing image a whole lot better!

Linda A. said...

Good one. I don't play golf but my husband does. He and his golfing buddy have fun with it, although they do try to improve their skills too. I see my writing like that too. For my own comparison, I'd say writing is like the hero's journey. There's a problem the MC attempts to solve and obstacles along the way, but determination, courage, perseverance and lots of attempts(at least three) lead to victory (hopefully). For me, it's also important to keep a good sense of humor through it all and hang on to my faith!

Carol Baldwin said...

I hope Scottie can get back in the swing again soon! I loved your analogy about writing. Terrific and memorable! thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Carol, so great that you are having fun as well as learning something new in golf! I would compare my writing to learning to quilt. You start off with nothing but pieces here and there and after much time(esp. for me--LOTS of time) and attention, at the end it all somehow comes together in a beautiful creation--granted my seams are definitely more crooked than the better quilters--but that is what makes it my own I suppose :) )

Carol Baldwin said...

That's a great image, Kathy! I might have to piece together a blog with all these analogies!

sheri levy said...

Hi Carol, I love your analogies with writing. I had time to think about mine. All the years I taught special needs children I had to find ways to solve their learning problems. I had to try many techniques, but it was a fun challenge. I had to do the same with my very troubled rescue dog. I think if you have a strong enough passion for something, you find the strength to keep at it. Good post!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Sheri. Yes--sometimes I ponder these a long time!

Lisa Kline said...

Carol, I agree with the comparison of golf and writing. Both take incredible perseverance and patience. Both are pretty solitary -- though you play golf with a group, your score is your own. Both are so very rewarding if you don't give up. And you haven't!

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