I'm learning to throw a baseball. For those of you who don't know what that is, it looks like this:
Apparently, there are a lot of things that go into throwing a baseball, particularly if you want it to go farther than a few feet. For example, you have to let it go at just the right spot, with just the right momentum, and with just the right force. And your feet have to somehow be in alignment with the rest of your body or it's just like shooting yourself in the foot--or throwing a baseball at your foot, as the case may be.
Not only that, but baseball is different for everyone. Sure there are certain strategies that work across body types, but here's the thing: no one is built with the same proportions, the same strength, and the same coordination as another person.
Now, before this week I have never thrown an actual baseball in my life (that I can remember). I've thrown lots of other things: rocks, sticks, buckets of water, basketballs, chuckballs (this will appear in another blog post at some point in the future so stay tuned), food, brothers, phones, bats, pool toys, eggs, dead mice, chickens, etc.
So imagine my irritation when some guy (an adult with two boys) yells from the other side of the fence, "you throw like a girl!"
Now first of all, I find this incredibly insulting. Because, it is an insult regardless of who's saying it to whom, and then on top of that it's sexist, and on top of that it's rude. I'm pretty sure he wasn't trying to associate my throwing skills with Mo'Ne Davis, but instead implying that from his perspective women are weaker and less skilled at athletics... but before I get lost down the never-ending rabbit hole of feminism that wasn't my initial point, I also want to point out that it was a terrible influence to the kids he was with. Now they're going to go home with newly reinforced backwards societal norms and think it's okay to insult their friends while simultaneously degrading women.
So what did I do to said offender? I yelled some offhand comment that hopefully communicated "go away" and went back to throwing baseballs at Josh.
Baseball throwing requires skill, patience, practice, and the ability to ignore people around you acting like idiots who downplay the importance of practicing the skill.
What does that sound like? Yes. Writing.
There are a lot of things that go into writing. You have to have a story to tell. You have to choose the right words to tell it. You have to have structure, plot, characterization, tone, voice style...
It's different for everyone. Everyone has a different voice. Each of us has different goals, different strengths, a different purpose, and a different story to tell. But we all mostly have to follow the same rules and the same guidelines. No one work is exactly the same as another. (We call that plagiarism.)
And then, there are those jerks that stand on the other side of the fence (many of which have never thrown a baseball in their life [or written a word]) yelling, "you throw like a girl!" or "ugh, I hated this piece of trash" or "I hope this person never writes another word in their life."
You know, I'm not a huge fan of Stefanie Meyers or E.L. James' work myself, but imagine the courage it must have to keep writing despite all the trash talk about their work. Even money doesn't fix emotional trauma, and while I'm on the topic [SOAPBOX], just because you don't like their work or think it's morally wrong or talks about an issue in a way that legitimizes abuse, it doesn't make cyber bullying okay (yes, free speech; yes, criticize the work itself; no, don't bully). It's like killing someone because they stole your TV. If you don't like the work, quit talking about it, quit paying money to consume the stuff, encourage everyone you know to do the same thing, and start a campaign to end sexual violence against everyone. [END SOAPBOX.]
If you love writing, the most important thing is to focus on the writing. Hone your skills. Learn to create better characters. Learn to build believable plot lines. Learn to fill your worlds with tantalizing details. Write what you love. Ignore the troll on the other side of the fence and be proud of all of the throws it took for you to become Mo'Ne Davis.
Never stop writing.