I had an interesting conversation via email with another writer. She took me to task about this post and I'm so grateful because we both gained insight from the exchange!!! Sometimes, I think there's nothing better than a healthy intellectual discussion!

To clarify--just as basketball teams depend on one another on the court, the writer depends on her support system outside of writing; however, when it comes to that single moment, that solitary ACT of writing--the external support system doesn't matter. The writer must trust and believe in herself.

By saying that the external doesn't matter for the writer, I am specifically speaking about the ACT of writing. Writing is solitary (unless you're collaborating with another writer).

For example, when a basketball player shoots the ball, she doesn't shout to her teammates, "Everyone crowd in and get a hand on the ball. Now let's all shoot together." In basketball, you've got only 24 seconds on the shot clock. Players pass around the ball and as time wears down, the ball ends up in only ONE-SINGLE player's hands. This player must make a solitary, decisive, brave act to shoot.

My first comment was about this single, solitary moment. No one can write and do the job for you--writing is a solitary act and it all comes down to you, the pen, the clock. That's all that matters. The external fades away.

If you're too afraid to shoot, time will eventually expire.

For people who don't love basketball, this analogy might be useless. I'm looking beyond the surface of the sport. For me, basketball is more than "getting the ball through the hoop" because the outcome depends heavily on who's holding the ball. The player's internal landscape in that moment makes all the difference.

It's internal. It's spiritual. It's inspiring.

Can you tell that I'm ready for Sunday's game? :o)
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scififanatic: (Default)
( Jun. 12th, 2009 06:47 am)
I was born into a family full of sports fanatics. Thus, I grew up loving basketball, football and tennis, to name a few.

I never fail to find some kind of lesson I've learned in a game that I can apply to the life of writing. In fact, I find some sports are full of artistic patterns; that pass Bryant made to Gasol, Gasol's spin move to the basket--PURE POETRY!!!

Last night, after losing game 4 in overtime, the Orlando Magics coach said that he's tired of hearing about experience being a factor in these final games. "Experience is a cliche," he said!

On one hand, I see his point. Experience isn't enough to make a team great. Other factors such as character, health, referees (or the lack thereof, such as in last night's game), coaching, court (being home vs. being away), etc.--all these things and so many more are factors of winning. So I see his point...

And then, I have to disagree.

Last night, against all odds, the Lakers won the game in overtime. We *should not have won* and I know that sounds like an insult to my home team but it isn't. It's really the highest praise.

Experience comes not because the Lakers happen to be one of the best NBA teams in the history of professional basketball. Experience came last night when the Lakers showed that they would not doubt themselves, they would not give up in the last quarter, in the last minute of overtime.

Likewise, the experience of a writer does not come from external factors: attending conferences, going to school and getting degrees in creative writing, networking with some of the best writers, talking about writing, joining critique groups, etc. Yes, all of these elements are very helpful but they don't guarantee a win for the writer.

Ursula K. Le Guin, one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers says it best in her essay from The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction:

"Experience isn't something you go and get--it's a gift and the only prerequisite for receiving it is that you be open to it." Last night, the Lakers were open to the possibility that they still had a chance to take the game. They didn't give up on themselves.

LeGuin goes on to say that writers should be less concerned about their external influences and more focused on their internal drive. "Know your own soul. Know your mind and heart. This knowledge is not lightly or easily gained but you must learn the landscape of your being. Write with imagination, which is your tool, and plow your own soul. Write from inside, from as deep inside as you can get by using all your strength and courage and intelligence."

She says, "That is where great books come from. The novelist writes from inside. What happens to him outside, during most of his life, doesn't really matter."

In other words, if experience is the teacher, then you ARE the principal, the dean, the president of all the knowledge that affords you to be a winner at writing. Very little outside of you matters.

That's the look I saw in Derek Fisher's eyes when he made not one but two crucial 3-point shots. Nothing outside of you matters. Reach deep within and know that you can win against all odds.

No one is interested in giving you anything in this world. You have to take it and that starts first with pushing yourself beyond the limits that appear in your path.
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scififanatic: (Purple blast)
( Jun. 28th, 2008 12:54 pm)
Venus Williams hits record 127-mph serve at Wimbledon!

You're my girl, V!
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scififanatic: (Default)
( May. 25th, 2008 07:47 pm)
This girl rocks--and she gives me incentive to keep pushing towards my own dream! I can't believe they've banned her just because she's female--those parents are just embarrassed that their sons are getting out-scored by a GIRL!

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scififanatic: (Cupcakes)
( May. 14th, 2008 08:06 pm)
Sometimes, I think there is no greater pleasure than watching a good Lakers game with a pint of Guinness and goofy family members screaming at the TV.
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It was an almost-perfect weekend.

This Saturday, we all gathered around the 60" HDTV to toast what was supposed to be an easy win and another notch on the mighty Trojan soldier belt.

Instead, we found ourselves muting the television and looking away because we couldn't take seeing just how clear it was that we were gonna lose. Losing is no fun but it's torture when you're watching it on high def with surround sound.

At the end of the game, Coach Pete Carroll said that the Trojans lost because the other team waited and waited, sticking it out until the end. Stanford stood victorious not because they had the talent but because they had the persistence.

Before the college football season began, every poll ranked USC to come out #1. No surprise there. We've dominated for quite a few years but that was then and this is now. Matt's gone. Reggie's gone. I was even wishing for Carson Palmer last night and he's been gone for ages now and we sure could have used Moody. But that was then and this is now. Now? USC's got talent yes we do, USC's got talent how about you attitude has been shut down. Stanford showed that ANYONE, REGARDLESS of TALENT can win. Stanford started out with a crappy season but their players believed that this game against USC was a fresh start and so it didn't matter what they'd done before. That was then and this is now.

I was sad USC lost but happy I could find a good message in it to apply to my writing. We can all use this reminder, whether on a football field or a writing table. Octavia E. Butler said it first: "You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence."
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