To badly mis-quote Mark Twain*. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” To those writers out there that play the wonderfully addictive and infuriating sport, they will know where I am coming from right away. To those that are not familiar with the basic psychology of the game, I will expand my hypothesis.
Golf is a game not suited for those of a delicate disposition. If you start your round with a bad shot, or anything less than the middle of the fairway, perfect drive you picture in your head, the mental games begin and the shine is automatically removed from the round.
It can be regained, but it takes a lot to build it back up. Sure, three of four holes later you are playing well, having recovered well from that disastrous opening tee-shot, you are now on course to have the round of your life. You are under par on every hole. Your confidence is soaring, but then it happens. You scud a shot over the fairway. Sure it runs, but it was ugly and not what you wanted. The confidence you built up is gone, shattered, and you walk up to the ball wondering why you even bothered coming out.
Ultimately you keep playing, because you love to play. That is the thing with golf, and with writing. You do it because you want to, because you enjoy it even though you understand there will be quite some anguish along the way.
Being a writer, especially in the current market, is very much like playing a round of golf. From the words we write on a project to the end of month sales figures.
You can be writing away, churning out the words with a near delusional smile on your face from how awesome your story is coming together, then suddenly, you write a sentence that makes you stop. The framework of everything you have built crumbles. You hate the book, your hate the story, and you curse God for making you a writer in the first place. Give some other fool the burden, you are through with it.
Yet we push on, we write a few more words, out of anger and a stubbornness we cannot describe. They lead to a few more, and several pages later you once again love the world, love your story and love God for gifting you the ability to write.
The same can be said for our sales. We hit the highs for a day or so, heck maybe even a month. Sales soar, the books fly from the virtual shelves, against our own anticipations, but then, things go quiet. The season for book buying passes, but that isn’t it. Our books have begun to suck. The words had changed and now form nothing but a non-sensical tale of a wannabe writer who couldn’t write his way out of a paperback.
We curse ourselves for being so stupid, for thinking that we could do it, then suddenly, in the third refresh of the hour, KDP tells you a book has been sold, even borrowed. Things are right with the world once more. The sun is shining and nobody can deflate you.
We don’t every really quit writing, the same way you never truly quit playing golf. At least, not for the reasons mentioned above. We know what it takes, and we accept that because the reward when things go well, that feeling of elation from hitting a good drive, writing a great chapter, sinking a long putt, or selling a few copies of a title you thought people no longer cared about, far outweighs the perceived notion of failure.
Keep on writing.
Keep on keeping on, because you are awesome, just like me.
* The quote is often attributed to Twain, but it is more likely he read it and found it an apt turn of phrase. There are several links suggesting it was first uttered several years before but in a longer sentence structure.