October 20, 2008: Fearlessness in the Face of Loss

This morning, I asked myself how I felt about “don’t be afraid to lose” in the wake of the Red Sox loss last night. Did the fact they didn’t achieve their goal make a difference?

Yes, but only because I understand a little more about what it means. Not being afraid to lose means you believe in yourself and in what you’re doing. You might be outplayed, you might be out of gas, but you know you’ve got the talent and skill and you know how to use both. You trust yourself, whatever the outcome.

But what about fear and doubt? I feel both, and I’m not sure any amount of positive self-talk will get rid of either. There are no real rules in writing — even the rules of grammar are to a degree subject to interpretation, so there’s no comfort to found in the rules of the game. And while we may have mentors and teachers and critique partners, we don’t have coaches helping us refine our performance on a weekly or daily basis. We’re on our own, trying to figure it out as we go, and that leaves us vulnerable to worry that we’re going the wrong way, and to dread of the consequences if we have gone astray.

In interviews after Thursday night’s comeback win, Sox players talked about “grinding it out,” about playing the game pitch to pitch, focusing on winning each inning. In other interviews, players have said you can’t worry about the whole game. The overall impression I get is tht you can only play the moment you’re in. Pitcher Josh Beckett once summed it up by saying, “Worrying about results corrupts the process.”

In some ways, that also means you can’t be afraid to lose. You have to stay in the moment, giving it the best you have in right then. Dustin Pedroia, the short, fierce second baseman, once said, “If you keeping winning the innings, the game will take care of itself.” (He said it in a very offhand manner, using it as an illustration on the way to his point, which now eludes me.) I think taking care of the innings applies to writing, too: If I keep winning the moments, if I keep giving them my best, the book will take care of itself.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teresa
    Oct 20, 2008 @ 23:29:49

    Great advice, something I DEFINITELY need to keep in mind 🙂

    Thanks for posting it! Amazing how many different things can inspire us as writers.

    Reply

  2. katycooper
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 20:04:29

    One of the things I love about writing is that almost anything feeds it. And I’m coming to love baseball because I’m learning so much about life from it.

    Reply

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