Take Me Out of the Bawl Game

I can see direct parallels between the worlds of freelance writing and professional baseball . Even the catch phrases and lingo are the same.

When I was a young reporter for The Muncie Star, I would have to start each morning by “pitching” ideas to the City Editor. He would actually respond, “No, you’re out in left field on that idea” or “Stay with that one until you knock it out of the park” or “Sorry, you struck out on that one.” If one of our regular reporters was off covering a court case and another story was breaking, the City Editor would scream, “Hensley, you’re on deck, so you go cover the police beat” or “Hensley, you pinch hit for Anderson over at City Hall.”

If a politician would suddenly announce she was entering the race for mayor, the City Editor would say, “Whoa! She threw us a curve on that one.” If I was having a hard time digging up facts for a story, the City Editor would say, “You can do it, Slugger” or “I’ve got a hole on page one, Hensley, and you’re batting clean-up. Bring it home, baby, bring it home.” If I was at my house on my day off and the City Editor had to call me in for some overtime, he’d say, “Get off the bench, Hensley, we’ve got a five-car pile-up on the expressway and I need you to go cover it.”

I could continue with endless examples, proving that baseball metaphors are always “at bat” amidst writers. However, one particular phrase dominates all others when it comes to baseball and freelance writing. It was said by Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own. Say it with me, folks: “There is no crying in baseball!”

The same rule applies to writing. If one of your manuscripts gets rejected, you cannot cry. You have to rewrite it. If your elevator pitch gets blown off by an editor, you cannot cry. You have to go back and refine it. If your coauthor quits or dies in the middle of a project and you’re left having to do all the remaining work, you cannot cry. You have to step up to the plate and finish the book. If your book finally gets published and the critics rip it to shreds, you cannot cry. You have to sit at the computer and write a better book the next time.

As writers, we all strike out now and then. We cannot cry when that happens. We can bunt, steal, walk, or switch hit. But, no, there’s no bawling in the ballgame of writing.

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Dennis E. “Doc” Hensley is the author of How to Write What You Love and Make a Living at It (Shaw/Random House). © 2012 by Dennis E. Hensley. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Take Me Out of the Bawl Game

  1. Leary Gates says:

    Well put, Doc!

    I had a friend tell me you can use automobiles as a metaphor for anything. You’ve convinced me the same may be true for baseball.

    Nice thing about that game, is that even if you strike out, you eventually make it back up in the rotation…unless, of course, you take yourself out of the game.