Tag Archives: golf

Newbies Matter

Yesterday, Dear Hubby took our middle son with him to a golf tournament. Eldest couldn’t make it due to another committment and one other player backed out of the foursome. Enter Middle as a back-up player.

He just turned eleven and until about six weeks ago, he hated golf. Yet for some reason this spring, he started saying yes to his father’s invitation to play. According to DH, Middle has a natural swing. But he’s young. And unpracticed for the most part. Still, they were short a guy and the tourney was a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis–a cause near and dear to our hearts.

During the game, they used two of Middle’s shots. Not because they had to, but because they HAD to. His two drives had the best lie. Nobody really expected this ungolfed youth to add value, so they were thrilled when he pulled through.

Over on AgentQuery Connect and other writing sites, it’s not uncommon to hear new writers claim they have nothing to offer in regards to critiques. While it’s true that more experienced writers have more experience to pull from, this doesn’t negate the fact that newbies still have something to offer.

As readers, they have an opinion. They know if they like a book, a character or a plot line and why. They know if something doesn’t ring true or if something feels forced. They either connect to a piece or they don’t. This is valuable for writers to hear, because the general population of readers don’t have writing experience. But they do know if a piece resonates with them or if something rings false. They, too, have opinions that can drastically impact the financial success of a book.

Newbies might not always know how to fix the things they feel or see wrong with a piece, but they can point them out. They can take a shot at giving the writer commentary that will ultimately lead to a better lie–and maybe a better reception with potential audiences.

Yesterday was a great experience for Middle. He got to practice his golf game, experience tournament etiquette and hopefully pick up on some of the nuances of golf by watching his teammates.  He also legitimately helped out his team. Not bad for a day’s work in the life of a newbie golfer.

Critiquers and writers speak up. What are your experiences with critiquing? Please share your memories and feelings as a newbie. Let us know how your critique style has changed over the weeks/months or years. What is your biggest strength in terms of critiquing, the one thing that comes natural to you as a reader?

Curious minds want to know.

It’s a Head Game

Last night Eldest and I had a tough conversation.  He played poorly at golf and wasn’t happy about it.  Worse, he had to come home and tell his father (a nearly scratch golfer) about his bad game. 

Golf is my son’s favorite sport, but messing up is easy to do when you let your mistakes get under your skin.  For example, the two water balls on a par three.  It just sets the tone for the rest of the round.

Needless to say, Eldest doesn’t do well under pressure like that.  “You can’t imagine how hard it is when the three guys you’re golfing with say things.”

“Dude, I totally get it.”  Isn’t that what submitting is?

We put ourselves out there for someone to judge.  We take our feedback and internalize it.  Sometimes we do a good job of keeping our heads up after a rejection.  Other times, we almost fold. 

It takes guts to tee off in front of others.  It takes emotional fortitude to duff a shot, shake it off and hit the next one straight.  Golf is a head game.  And in a lot of ways, so is writing.

“Mom, writing is a hobby.  Anyone can do it.  Not as well as you, but they still can.”  Whoever says teens are horrible doesn’t know my son. 

“Yeah, well I’m trying out for the PGA.”

Who wants to be my caddy?

A Swift Kick in the IE-OCD

This morning my DH asked what I planned to accomplish today.  Without thinking, I said, “I would like to get out two submissions.”

“Let’s get it done.”  DH settled in next to me and my computer.  He leafed through a golf mag, oblivious to what he was getting into.  Oblivious to the fact that he was initiating a task I had been putting off for weeks months. 

I am a perfectionist when it comes to querying.  And yet, no writing is ever perfect, not even with critique groups and beta readers.  Completed manuscripts still need tweaked or totally rewritten once an agent or editor is on board with the project.  Even with editorial departments and galley proofs, typos and other mistakes make their way into published books.

Nothing is ever perfect in writing.  But by golly, I was trying.

DH riffled through his mag twice, heaved half a dozen sighs and tried to give me some management advice on saving appropriate files for each of my completed manuscripts.  He may have been raedy to beat me with his golf magazine a tad bit frustrated by the fact that I was searching an AQ thread for my dissected query last spring.

“But you don’t understand,” I wailed.  Yes, I actually wailed.  One hour later and 250 words in, I was frustrated by my lack of the perfect query letter.  “I have 300 words to sell this idea.  Three hundred.”

“Yeah?”

I attempted to put it in his terms.  “If you had to sell a tractor in 300 words, which ones would you use?” 

“Here’s my tractor, here’s how much it costs.  Now buy it.”

Talk about economy.  I’ve never seen an eleven word query letter before.  Nor was I satisfied with his version, even though he was fundamentally right.  Here’s my book, this is what it’s about.  Now rep it.  Please.  Let us not forget the please.

I struggled some more.  DH snatched up one version.  “What’s wrong with this?”

Everything.  Yet I couldn’t possibly explain the anxiety that went into perfecting those sparse paragraphs.  They had to be PACKED with goodness to have an agent request the manuscript.  They were all I had.  I read him a slightly different version–one with four changed sentences. 

“Oh, yeah.  I like that one much better.”

And that’s when it dawned on me.  I have IE-OCD.  My Internal Editor knows full well that there is always a better version.  It refuses to quit tinkering.  It refuses to approve.  It refuses to give me permission to take that next step.  So I don’t.  I read and reread.  I compulsively change one or two words.  I let my queries simmer.  And I wait for my Internal Editor to tell me that I am finally done.  That all is good. 

This morning my DH gave my IE’s OCD a swift kick in the rear.  With his golf club.  “It’s just a five iron, Baby.  You’re a hundred and eighty yards out.”

Now, I’m not obsessed with golf like he is, but I know he was telling me to relax and swing.  To let it go.

I did.  I hit send, fought the impulse to call my queries back and walked away.  DH may not read often, but he’s got the real world figured out.  And so I leave you with his words of encouragement:

“It’s just a five iron.  You’re a hundred and eighty yards out.” 

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten to kick your Internal Editor’s rear?