Last Place - STILL - Rocks

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yes, this is a repost, but as the new year is coming up, I think it's valid to say it again...

You know that kid who was always picked last at sports in school? That was me.

Seriously - just under five feet tall, way too close to 150 lbs, and a year with a brace on my ankle - I wasn't first pick when it came to choosing teams in P.E.

People usually don't believe me when I say this, but I have no problem telling anyone that. It's not embarrassing to me or a reason to regret that status. In fact, I loved it.

No, I'm not joking. I really loved getting picked last for basketball and softball. I loved watching the "captains" go through the guys first and then the girls they thought might not screw up their scores. "Why?" you may ask, did this scene - played out every semester - not leave me a puddle of lost confidence on the gym floor? It's simple: I was good and I knew it.

That scene always happened in PE, but it only ever happened once a semester when the classes were mixed up and no one knew anyone else. When everyone's assumptions were based solely on appearance and not on ability. When no one had proven anything other than their ability to change into shorts and socks in five minutes flat. And if you've never seen the look on the face of a 6'2" Senior guy when a 4'10", overweight, Freshman girl wipes the floor with him in basketball, you haven't really lived. ;-)

The same goes for softball - "my" game. Sure I was, and am, small, but I batted clean-up from the time I was 6. And the first time all those smug faces shouts for the outfield to come in right behind the infield, and you get to watch them crane their necks as the ball sails over their heads, is priceless. It's hard not to walk the bases instead of running them.

Now, I didn't go into all of this just to point out that I was a good ball player. My point was that I've come to the conclusion that writing is similar to those days where the new class would choose sides.

When you send out a query, you're putting yourself in the line to be picked for a team. And when you watch people you know from writing circles and crit groups or online sites where writers gather snag contracts with agents, and then book deals with publishers, it can be tempting to feel like that kid who stands there all nervous while the captains choose everyone but him.

It seems like all they do is pick out your flaws and highlight them for all to see. Every presumption and assumption from what little of you an agent knows at the end of your query can make you want to tell the nurse you have cramps and can't do PE that day.


If you're good, and you know it,

If you know that all it takes is one shot or one solid hit,

If you know that feeling of watching those slack jawed faces turn and follow the ball they expected to roll ten feet fly fifty yards behind them...

... last place can totally rock.

All you have to do is hang in there, and the next time someone's choosing teams, they'll still probably start with their best friends, but once round one is over, they'll point at you first. When you come up to bat, they'll back up (which, of course, is when you bunt ;-) ), and when you get the ball, you find that it's the best players on the other team following you down the court.

They may not expect much of you at first, but they'll remember you by the time you're finished.

2 Chiming In:

Charity Bradford said...

I really enjoyed this post. It made me laugh, and then it made me sigh. You're right. And I can be patient, cause even though I never was good at sports, I'm confident in my writing. ;)

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

L.C. Gant said...

Man, this post made my day. After all, who doesn't feel like the last kid picked for sports once in a while?

I particular love your suggestion that just because everyone THINKS you're in last place doesn't mean you actually are. All that matters is what YOU think.

Stephenie Meyer was in last place once, as were Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Steig Larsson and all the world's other successful writers. They all started out just like the rest of us, unknown and invisible. But we sure know who they are today, don't we?

I love it! Thanks for this powerful reminder.

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