On slumps, in baseball and in writing…

CreativityLast night after my son’s baseball game and in the middle of a post-game, in-depth discussion about baseball bunting, I told my kids to hold it a second. “Let’s call Charles and ask him what he thinks about bunting.”

I’m not a fan of bunting, though I do realize it has its benefits. I dialed Charles’s number, and he picked up. This, in itself, is miraculous. Sometimes he is just too busy to chat. Charles currently works for the Boston Red Sox, is a brilliant, creative mind, and happens to be one of my former bosses from my days at the Orioles.  He also is one of those dearest of friends where, when you chat with him, though we haven’t lived in the same city for years, not a moment has passed. We always just pick up where we left off.

In this discussion where Charles used Earl Weaver as an example of one who didn’t much care for the bunt, we determined that it’s really the sacrifice bunt that I have a problem with in the game of baseball. I don’t like giving up an out just to advance a runner. For some reason, it drives me crazy, and we talked it through. And don’t get me started on the suicide squeeze.

After we worked out the bunting issue—for you see, I am writing my next novel about baseball and working in the sport—he asked me how my writing was coming along. I didn’t tell him the whole truth, that I’ve been in a writing slump, and that I’ve hardly paid much attention to it lately. Instead, I just said, “Well, I’ve got about 42,000 words written.” Why I say this to people, I have no idea. What good is a novel in progress if you’re not writing it? “Beneath the Mimosa Tree” was roughly 58,000 words. This really means nothing. “Baseball Girl” may end up being longer. It’s hard to say when you’ve abandoned the poor, helpless characters that rely on you.

The truth of the matter is, I realized, like ballplayers, I’m in a slump. They have hitting slumps and I have writing slumps.

But like most slumps, at some point you come out of them. Remember when Cal Ripken had his hitting slump and problem with his stance at the plate? We all thought it was over, but the Iron Man fooled us, and came out of it just fine. We should have known better.

What I also didn’t reveal to Charles is that, thanks to his prodding and enthusiasm for my writing (he gave me wonderful, rave reviews for my first book), I am back at it. I’m ready to go. Today, a few ideas came flooding into my very tired brain. The light’s been switched back on.

As Dionne Warwick once belted out in song, “That’s what friends are for.”

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