The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Cheating on my Girlfriend– Day 26

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Mr. October was the name of the piece about learning how to hit a baseball, and it came in at a hair under 4500 words (14 pages). The first draft was twice that long. I never got it published, and to this day it remains my greatest heartbreak as a writer.

I first submitted the story to Elysian Fields Quarterly, and they rejected it (EFQ is the same place I sent Strategy, Innovation, and 91 Meltdowns, my story about Earl Weaver, which I referred to in this blog as “Earl and Me“). At about the same time, I received a call for submissions for a collection of writing by established and emerging Illinois writers. So, I sent the story to the editors who were compiling the collection. After a few months, they sent me the non-standard rejection letter, which included a note explaining that I should be aware that I was very close to making the final edit. Since then, the piece has been rejected by 6 or 8 other publications. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get the piece in print, but figured I could at least include excerpts from it in this serial since there are a lot of parallels with the time of year and the baseball playoffs.

I made a number of mistakes in the overall process of writing Mr. October. Foremost, I had pinned my hopes too high for the type of writing I was attempting, which was participatory journalism. The piece was great fun to write, but it was also a tremendous ego trip. It didn’t have any significance other than that which I assigned to it in my own mind. There was no social impact, no shocking discoveries, nothing but me trying to set right something that went wrong 20 years earlier. To make matters worse, I chatted the piece up endlessly to friends, family, and anybody else who would listen. I talked about how it was destined to be published, how it would be my first mark in the world of publishing, because it was the best thing I had ever written. I flaunted my new-found knowledge of hitting any time I watched baseball, and debated with friends about what was wrong with any particular hitter. It was all very hubristic, and the heartbreak that resulted was painful, but well-deserved.

Despite all that, good things came from my heartbreak (I’ve found the same to be true after the hardest romantic breakups… eventually, I emerge as a better person, and as a better partner in future relationships). The writing process alone was transcendent, especially when it came to having to reduce the original draft by half. That helped me understand a lot about self-editing. There are several passages that I still consider some of my best writing, and I even used an excerpt from the piece to help score an independent study with Brenda Miller. The story was also a bridge from what I used to write and what I now write. Before Mr. October, I was writing memoir almost entirely, which for my tastes is too self-centered, more akin to emotional masturbation than anything else. As soon as I started working away from that direction, I started to find a lot more success and satisfaction as a writer. Perhaps most importantly, I learned the significance of having emotional separation from my writing. I don’t pin my hopes on anything getting published; I focus more on the satisfaction I get from writing the best piece I can and how each story changes me and helps me become a better writer. It’s some kind of zen thing.

There’s a lesson to be learned here that can be taken into my relationships, but I’m not quite sure what it is at this particular moment.

*

I’m starting to see the end of this affair materializing on the horizon. Best case scenario: I’m still running around behind the Cubs’ back until next Thursday night. It could all end sooner, though… maybe as early as Monday night. It’s at this point in all my affairs that I focus only on the present and try to enjoy every minute as much as I can. When it’s all over, then I’ll worry about the emotional numbness that always follows.

It’s been interesting to watch the heart of the order of both teams. Outside of the stellar pitching, that’s where both games have been decided. The Yankees are holding up decently against the Phillies, thanks in part to their 3-4-5 hitters stroking the ball at a .348 clip. That is mostly due to Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui playing out of their minds. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have been hacking for the most part, though Teixeira came through with a critical homer in Game 2. The Chase Utley / Ryan Howard / Jason Werth combination has at least been a little more consistent; they’ve spread 6 hits evenly among themselves while striking out only 8 times in 22 at-bats (the 3-4-5 part of the Yankees lineup has whiffed 13 times in 26 at-bats). Neither superstar has lived up to his billing, though– Howard and A-Rod have each struck out 6 times.

I think Joe Girardi has cause to be concerned with his offense, and he’s going to have to find a way to keep Matsui in the lineup after his excellent effort in Game 2. But how’s he going to do it? Sacrifice defense by putting Johnny Damon on the bench? He’s already having trouble keeping Nick Swisher in the lineup, which has compromised his outfield and Swisher’s spot in the lineup.

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Written by seeker70

October 31, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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