Saturday, October 2, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger Celia Yeary

Go for the Green

Got Game?

When I turned forty, I decided to learn to play golf. I knew absolutely nothing about the game, but it fascinated me. Instead of watching football or basketball on television, I watched golf tournaments. The players became almost like friends; I knew each name, his place of residence, marital status, and family. I kept up with the World Rankings of the top PGA players, hoping “my guy” stayed in the top ten, or the rookie contender whom I followed managed to win against all odds.

The game looked relatively easy. The entire process resembled a ballet, slow and easy, no running, jumping, or tackling, all acted out in an atmosphere of polite actions and rules and decorum. Spectators remained politely silent as a player took his stance. Best of all, the sport required the player to hit a ball that stayed in place. This seemed much better than trying to hit or catch a moving ball. I don’t particularly like the idea of an object flying toward me that I must hit, kick, or catch.

By observing a game and listening to the commentator, I knew the golfer used several clubs. Besides the putter, the exact role of each one eluded me, but that seemed easy to learn. Like any game, it was replete with rules and penalties.

So, I asked my good friend and women’s golf coach, “Will you teach me to play golf? Even though I haven’t an athletic bone in my body?”

“Sure, I will,” she replied.

She took a small set of student’s clubs--and me--straight to the course, bypassing the driving range. “We’ll just start and see how you do,” she said, patting me on the back.

“I know the object is to get the ball in the hole, but what are the procedures, the rules? And how do I hold a club?” I asked.

“It’s simple,” she said. “Just hold the club by the grip, hit the ball toward the direction of the green, go find it, and hit it again.”

She was dead serious. Some coach she is, I muttered to myself.

In a nutshell, though, that’s it.

I’m a fast learner, so after a couple of years of playing and improving, I beat her almost every time. She always complained she’d taught me too well.

Years later—did I say how many?—oh, good, because I didn’t intend to—I thought to try my hand at writing a romance story. I wondered how one wrote a novel, and if one did, how could one have it published. I remembered my coach’s plan concerning golf, so I applied it to writing: “Write a story, send it to a publisher, then write another.” Easy.

Writing is like playing golf.

In a game of golf, the player uses a variety of methods to get the ball in the cup--drives, fairway shots, chipping, and putting. If the player utilizes all the methods correctly, he’ll enter a good score.

In writing, the author uses plot, characterization, point of view, pacing, and climax. Then, she submits and hopes for a contract.

Doubt will kill a golf round. The minute a player decides her ball will go in the water, I assure you, it will. When she chastises herself for making a wrong choice or missing an easy putt, she’ll add more strokes. If she decides she’s the worst player in the field, then she probably will be. Once a golfer—or writer—allows uncertainty to creep in, her game and attitude vanishes.

Many pro golfers, especially the world’s best players, subscribe to the mantra, “Never lay up.”

When a long shot over a hazard faces the player, he has two choices: hit the ball close to the hazard so the next shot is easy, and he will have a better chance of getting close to the hole. Or if he’s a strong-willed player and faces the same situation, he’ll study the situation, choose the correct club for the distance, take his stance with confidence, and…go for the green!

Each hole is a clean slate. Other holes are history.
Each new blank page is wide open to possibilities.

We all like to win--at golf or writing--but we’re not out to beat the field 100% of the time. We play to challenge ourselves, to best our own last score, to lower our putt average, and to lower our handicap. A professional golfer always strives to win, but realistically, he knows he will lose far more games than he will ever win. Even so, he will gain something from every tournament.

Understand, though. I love to win. Oh, yes, I absolutely do. Whether the prize is one dollar, a golf ball for the week, or the quarter pot, I go all out. In past years, I even won a few local tournaments and received very nice trophies, money, and gifts. Some of the other participants would say, “Wow, you come out here to win, don’t you?”

My answer? “Why would I come out here to lose?”

So, as it is in the game of writing and publishing, I came to play…and to win. But what happened when I went home from a tournament without a prize? Nothing. I always viewed playing golf as a privilege few can enjoy, so if someone else won, I’d congratulate her, go home, and I was still happy. But just wait until the next time.

So it is with writing and submitting manuscripts. If I must be unhappy or angry, I’ll do so concerning something important, such as world hunger or senseless crimes.

Every day, I strive for a win, a contract, a prize, an award, a good review. Why would I do otherwise? But a rejection will not ruin my life.

Take my advice: Go for the green. And smile!

Celia Yeary is a seventh-generation Texan, and her life revolves around family, friends, and writing. San Marcos has been her home for thirty-five years. She has five published romance novels, four “coming soon” novels, and published essays with a local magazine. The author is a former science teacher, graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas State University, mother of two, grandmother of three, and wife of a wonderful, supportive Texan. Celia and her husband enjoy traveling, and both are involved in their church, the community, and the university as retired faculty.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas

New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress


Jana Richards said...

Good Morning Celia,
I play golf (not well) and I write (hopefully much better than I golf) so I can relate to your post. I know that if I get down on myself when my golf game is not going well, it just gets worse. And hitting over a water hazard? If I think I'm going to go in, of course I am.

Writing is the same. At times I've doubted my writing, rewriting so many times I no longer have a vision, or enthusiasm, for it. The best thing I can do is to discover my characters, figure out what I want my plot to reveal and my characters to learn, and then write with conviction and confidence to The End. I can't let doubt cripple me, or conflicting critiques to undermine my confidence. It's my story, and I have to write it my way.


Celia Yeary said...

JANA--Hello! I'm happy that someone understands my analogy here about golf and writing. I have another golfer friend, and she agrees, too.
About losing you enthusiasm or vision you have of a work-in-progress. I fully empathize with you. When I began writing, I had no fears or inhibitions, and those turned out to be my best novels. Now, I struggle to find and recapture that free feeling I had then. When we begin dealing with others in the business and they show us where we've gone wrong, that doubt can creep in.
But you have so much more knowledge about writing than I do. I read your posts, so I know just how learned you are. I'm a self-learner, and I'm sure there are others out there like me who soaks up any bit of teaching I can get. Celia

Linda Acaster said...

I understand your analogy very well. Here in the UK we are watching the Ryder Cup in a very wet Wales, and while there was an "interlude" (as in 'Ark Required') the channel ran a pre-recorded set of interviews about 'training to excess -v- enjoying what you do', and guess which even the professionals admitted was best?

For me, the big problem is trying to find that place of silence within where I can create. I put it somewhere, I know I did...

Vince said...

Hi Celia:

I have often compared golf to writing in seminars. My take is that golf is really many different games. Putting is nothing like driving and driving is nothing hitting a sand wedge. There are many different skills to master in golf. Even something as simple as a fairway shot can be uphill, downhill, side hill, embedded, obstructed, into the wind, wet grass, green not visible, and so on.

It can take a long time to become a good golfer because any missing skill, of the many you must master, can ruin your round of golf. This is like writing. Being weak in any one of the many skills writing requires can sink your chance of being published. I think this is why a person can spend years getting the first book published and then publish two books a year for the next ten years. It is a matter of getting the basic skills in all areas above the passing level.

Can you tell us something about “Making the Turn”? Is it about golf. And I’m not sure but does this title refer to starting the back nine on a golf round?

BTW: I was once a marshal who guarded Arnold Palmer for a round of golf. What a thrill! It was 1961 and Palmer was winning everything in sight! He was a perfect gentleman and between shots he would walk over and talk to the fans! Arnold built his Army one fan at a time. And twenty years after he stopped winning tournaments, his Army was still with him: the biggest on the course. This is also a lesson for romance authors.


Caroline Clemmons said...

Geat attitude, Celia. I hate when jealousy keeps a writer from being happy for another's success.

Sandra Crowley said...

Love your post, Celia. I never thought about the similarities of processes between golf and writing, probably because I'm not a golfer. My first, one of two, golf dates was a spontaneous one. I rode my horse over to visit a friend. She and her dad were headed to the golf course and asked me along. Always ready to try anything, I joined them. I quickly found out boots aren't preferred footgear for the sport! I also discovered the drawback to sharing a taller friend's clubs--you can only choke up so far without poking your stomach or whacking your wrists. I hung in there though, made it to the green in 8 strokes and into the hole in 15 more! Golf, like writing, is great exercise for humility.

Linda Swift said...

Celia, I have read many of your blogs, both your own and as a guest on others. And I think this one today is one of your very best. I'm not a golfer but I live with one and he personifies every description you gave of a good golfer. And your analogy with writing was perfect. One needs to be a "good sport" about both. And I do know from experience that is writing a "quitter never wins" and a "winner never quits." Linda

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Rejection - Hmmmmmm I had a rejection this week that nearly leveled me. I had gotten such great vibes from the editor that I really thought this would be the time - NOT! Just a standard rejection letter by email. What I discovered (and have always known) is that I have the most wonderful friends and support system in the universe. I quit writing for about ten hours, groveled, whimpered and every other emotion of defeat one could imagine, BUT
'they' would not let me quit. My friends gave me twenty four hours and then expected me to be back in the saddle. I have taken a little bit longer because I find solace in sewing and had three quilts to finish and a couple of other projects. Two are done and I am already picturing what I will do next on my ms. Yes, the knocks in this business can be brutal, but the rewards are like nowhere else. I will sell some day, but I might just protect my heart a little bit with my next submission.

connie said...

Hi Celia

Your analogy is right on - a great way to explain the whole business of writing

I was a waitress at a golf club when I was in University. The pro took me out on the course (my first time) and taught me for an hour. I scored 71 my first time out!

But-I only played three holes.

Likewise, my writing of late. It can go well or it can badly, but I have to play all 18 holes or I'm very apt to leave it 'til another season.

I'm very much looking forward to the Surrey International Writers' Conference in Surrey (Vancouver) BC at the end of October. Many of the big names, Ann Perry, Diana Gabaldon, Jack Whyte return year after year to teach and share an amazing amount of learning.

I hope some day you will consider attending. It has been called the best on the continent. It is for all writers, not just us romancing types.

And, yes, I play golf still and I can break 100 but NOT easily - just like writing and submitting.

"If at first you don't succeed - resubmit, submit, submit.....

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--OH, yes, that solitude and quietness we all long for at times--and need to write.
I'm very interested in the Ryder Cup, but here in Texas the time is so different, I click on the scoreboard on MSN to check it out. Wow! I wish I hadn't--Europe is up in all matches! I'm afraid to look again.
Every professional golfer will say "enjoying what you do" is most important, and I say they don't mean that. Every one of them "train to excess". Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Ahhh,Vince--a man after my own heart. I'm happy to know you used golf in your teaching seminars. It's a perfect fit, isn't it? I do understand your statement about Arnold Palmer, too. Is there any other golfer as admired as he? Some of the young ones will never compare.
Yes, my book, Making the Turn refers to starting over on the back nine, a chance to score less than the front, thereby making the total score a little better.
It's about 39-yr-old Sara Daniels who loses her affluent lifestyle in Dallas over night. She plays golf on the fictional Dallas Fairview Country Club is.
She loses everything, so moves back home to live temporarily with her cantankerous mother on the old family farm in Fictional Del Rey, Texas. I began each chapter with a golf rule, saying,or euphemism that predicts the action in that chapter.It's women's fiction with a light romance--so far, it's selling pretty well! Thanks for asking--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

CAROLINE--thank you for recognizing that bit--not many people catch it. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

SANDRA--do you write comedy? You made me laugh, imagining you in boots playing with clubs that are too long.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I thought you might catch the good sport bit, too. I always hated it when one of my opponents in match play became angry. I actually won a match against a bigger woman, much better golfer, drove twice as far as I did, and after 21 holes, I won. Why? I drove short but very straight, I got to the green in 2 or 3, I could chip well, and I was an excellent putter. But the main thing? I never lost my temper on the golf course. She got angry because I stayed with her, and she expected to give me a good drumming. The last hole in which I won? I drove the green on the par 3, and she didn't and she slammed her club into the ground--furious. That anger killed her game. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

PAISLEY--it's difficult not to expect success when you feel so good about your work. We have to keep in mind not everyone likes the same books--how boring would that be for readers and writers? So a rejection only meant she didn't like it--but you love your book, and others will, too. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

CONNIE--hahaha! I played with several women who would stop keeping score if they were playing badly--refused to turn in a card. I thought that was just tacky. I turned in every card, no matter the awful score.
The conference sounds wonderful, and what a great place to have it. Oh, how I wish....some day, maybe....

P.L. Parker said...

Great post and I loved the comparisons.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I love comparisons of golf and writing. Each new book is an opportunity to make a hole in one!
Well done, Celia.

Sandra Crowley said...

Celia, I do enjoy making people laugh, but it always happens by accident. I can't deliberatly tell a joke; I mess up the punch line. I write romantic suspense. The occasional flashes of humor in it probably come out because I'm half a bubble off plumb.
Enjoying everyone's comments.

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you, P.L. and Maggie--I love any comment you make. Celia