Monday, August 13, 2007

A League of Our Own

by Joan Kayse

I'm a bit late posting this morning because it's taken me several hours to dig out from beneath the mess of baking entries for the Kentucky State Fair. In a few hours I will take the sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, date bars and pumpkin chip cupcakes in to be judged. (The pineapple upside down cake flopped....dang).

Every year on that Sunday when I'm firing up my oven I find a movie or program or something to listen to while I whisk away. For several years it was the 1940's movie "State Fair"...the one with Jeanne Crain. Other years it's been the "I Love Lucy" or "Andy Griffith" marathon. One year it was Elvis movie extravaganza, LOL.

This year, I had DVR'd the Tom Hanks movie "A League of Their Own." I just really like this movie. All the characters are so distinctive. The plot has you cheering for this diverse group of women who were able to find an acceptable venue to show off their athletic skills and play the game they loved. Each lady has a different reason for playing. Each lady grows as a person and finds strengths inside themselves. Tom Hanks as the manager goes from a drunken has been to a coach who rediscovers the joy of the game.

There is one scene/one line that really jumped out at me.

Jimmy Dugan, the coach is confronting Dottie Hensen about her decision to leave the team just as they are going to the World Series. Dottie's been in turmoil a good bit of the movie conflicted about maintaining the social mores of the day with her true love of baseball. She has had to put up with her spoiled, whiny little sister who blames every bad thing on her "better." She's been worried about her husband who is off fighting the Germans including a close call when she fears he's been killed. She's been carrying all the responsibility including for the team until Jimmy is finally able to pull himself up out of the gutter.

But now her husband is home and she's leaving the team and going back home to Oregon. Jimmy tells her he doesn't understand how she can do tha she loves the game and that it is what makes her happy. She tries to deny it and finally, when Jimmy pushes just a bit more she looks at him and says "It just got too hard."

Jimmy (with a powerful Tom Hanks glare) retorts. "If it wasn't hard, everybody would be doing it."

Just like fair baking.

Just like writing.

How many times have you listened to the frustration, the despair the "why am I doing this" on writer's loops? How many times have you had to give pep talks to aspiring authors to "hang in there". You're almost're on the edge (hopefully on the edge of publication and not LITERALLY on the edge :-).

And how many times have you had someone say "Wow! You wrote a book! I couldn't do that."

A lot I imagine. We aspiring writers are in a league of our own. Some of us are lucky to have good team members to play the game with; local chapters, critique partners and for me...the Banditas. Each member brings to the game a different perspective, a different outlook, different experiences and different levels of success.

I really came to recognize what a unique and wonderful experience it is to be with others who have attained something as great as a GH final. There's just a different vibe, an unspoken recognition of shared experiences. What a wonderful thing.

Now, what position would you play in the game lineup? Pitcher? Short stop (short crop)?

Hot dogs! Cracker Jacks!


Nancy said...


A great post! The example from A League of Their Own, which I also love, by the way, was perfect. Anything worth doing takes some effort, and for the women in that movie, just playing baseball was a huge achievement.

I envy your baking skills. I cook well enough to survive (as long as I can find the nearest fast food, too), but I wouldn't dream of entering anything in a competition. I hope you win your categories.

As for what position I'd play, it used to be right field but these days, it'd be cheerleader. I don't have the arm that I used to. Good luck at the fair!

Beth said...

Joan, you are making me want to bake *g* Luckily for my waistline, it's too hot to heat up the oven and we don't have air conditioning ;-)

I love A League of Their Own and just caught the ending of it the other night! It seems to me that the most difficult things to get through or accomplish, sometimes yield the greatest rewards *g*

Oh, and I played catcher on my softball team :-)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, goody, it's State Fair time! I can't wait to hear what you win this year, Joan. I'm sure you bake as well as you write! (And you still owe me scones, by the way, if I ever get to your neck of the woods. *g*)

I loved "A League Of Their Own" and I'll confess that when Dottie said it just got too hard, I lost my respect for her (like Jimmy did). I am one of those weird, masochistic people who sincerely enjoys a challenge. I expected writing to be tough. It didn't disappoint! I expect it will always be tough, having witnessed the career highs and lows of published author friends.

If it were easy, I wouldn't want to do it nearly as much. I suspect some here will understand my love of fighting the good fight. I also think the Banditas (and honorary Banditas!) know me well enough to know I enjoy the unconventional. Writing is certainly that!

As to my position on the team, *ahem* I am not athletically inclined. I was always last (or near last) selected for any given sport. I could sell hot dogs and lemonade, though. I'm ace at making change! *g*

Joan said...

Ok, guys. Here are some cyber brownies :-)No calories.

Just returned from taking the goodies to our fairgrounds and dangit....the corn dog stand wasn't open yet :-0

Writing is challenging but like Caren, I love a challenge.

And writing for publication is hard. It's hard when you hear as I have been for the past year "You're almost there", "You're on the edge". Yeah? Well, sometimes I feel like I have callouses on my toes from teetering on that edge.

I have found that there are "levels" to this writing journey. Different leagues, if you will. The levels are of understanding and experience. This doesn't make me better than anyone else working toward publication, just that I've been through the AAA teams and am sitting with my ball glove (mss. in said glove) waiting to be called up to the Braves (or Yankees, or Cubs).

I guess I'd be a pitcher, you know. As in "pitching" my mss. :-)
But in real life could not do it. As a child I pitched to my brother who line drove that softball right into my nose! I have a nervous twitch just thinking about it.

Cassondra said...

GREAT post Joan!

I'll never enter the baking competition for ANYTHING. BUT, I could certainly sit in as a judge! (grin)

I haven't seen this film, but I'm guessing I'd be team manager. I think it's the only place they can stick somebody who isn't...well...Okay I was always picked last...wasn't any good at this stuff.

I've done my share of cheering on other writers, that's certain. But just yesterday Duchesse de Snorkeville--a.k.a. Jeanne--had to do it for me. Pick me up out of the ditch and say "YOU ARE NOT QUITTING!"

I, too, have always loved a challenge, and the writing biz certainly is that. But I think what makes any creative work harder is that it's not just skill, but a part of your soul on the line. Not "I fixed this car does it run?" or "I installed this landscape do you like it?" but "Here is a part of me, please don't reject it."

I'm about to go for a job interview--leaving right after I type this--it's a job climbing towers to repair the aircraft warning lights. Yup. 1500 foot towers. I don't know if I can do it, physically or mentally. And I may throw up when I get up there, but I don't think this job, or ANY similar job puts a person in the same league with a creative artist. After all, I'll be risking body, but my soul and my manuscripts will still be safe. :0)

THANK GOODNESS for my Bandita sisters, who pick me up and say "snap out of it" when I say "it's just too hard."

Joan said...

Gak, Cassondra! 1500 feet UP????

Excuse me while I get dizzy!

Good luck with that AND your writing!

We can all do it. I know that with more certainty now then when I started. As so many writers will tell you...just write the story!

And as so many Banditas will tell you...submit! Query!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Yeah, Joan! Great baking, and great post. :> I love the Fair, I love food, and I have come to love baseball. Not only do I live in the Testosterone Zone w/ the dh and two boys, but my oldest son is...da-da!...Baseball Boy! He has picked up the Cubs Fan banner from my husband and run with it, as well as being one heck of a player himself. At 7 he's playing w/ the 10/11's in his baseball camp, batting lefty, throwing righty. His ambition? Play first base for the Chicago Cubs. I know a LOT about baseball now. Loved League of their own long before the baseball days though. I think I'd have to play short or the "keystone sack" (second base) since there's a lot of action there. Ha! Truth be told, though, I'm much more of a football fan and the Fair means that Summer's at an end, cooler weather is on the ways and Hooooooorraaaaaay...FOOTBALL SEASON! Snork. Good luck at the Fair and know we're behind you, in baking and in writing. Now, about those scones...heehee

Suzanne Welsh said...

Baseball! What a fantastic post. Me, I adore baseball and am a die-hard Indians fan!

I played outfield, catcher and third base on a summer park league as a young teen. Since I can't throw real well, and I run so-so, I learned to hit the ball a-country-mile. Always took the other teams by surprise for whole inning! Next time I came up to bat, the outfield moved O-U-T!! Way out. LOL

If I was going to be a position player on a team now, I'd choose catcher, even if it's bad on the knees. The catcher gets to call the pitches, has to know everything about the other batters and have the ability to take whatever is thrown her way. To be in that much control, it's like being the writer. You direct the action, hope everyone, (characters), are on the same page and make great plays to ensure the win, (HEA).

Joan, remind me to send you the ginger-snap recipe once the weather turns cool. They're fabulous in the winter! And good luck at the fair.

Joan said...

Gosh, Suzanne sounds like you were a team unto yourself!

We have a minor league baseball team here in Louisville. The River Bats. I truthfully haven't been to a game in a long time, but use to go faithfully when they were affiliated with the Cardinals and called the "Redbirds".

So faithful in fact that one year my brother bought tickets for opening day which just happened to fall on my birthday-April 13th-as a present.

They were great seats, right along the 3rd base line where the team congregated to do warm up stretches before the game. In those lovely uniforms :-)

My brother made the mistake of asking me why I was smiling :-)

Trish Milburn said...

I love this movie, though I haven't seen it in a long time.

I think it's so cool that you're a fair baker, Joan. Good luck! Hope you come back with lots of blue ribbons.

Helen said...

Great post Joan I love that movie I have it on DVD and often sit down and watch it. Good luck with all the baking I am sure you are going to come away a winner and as I have said before I love the fact that all you writers keep pushing yourselves because it gives us readers a chance to read really good stories that take us away to different places.
Have Fun

Kate Carlisle said...

Baseball and baking are both spectator sports for me. I love baseball movies and love watching baseball, but I really love to watch someone else baking! LOL

Fun post, Joan! I, too, envy your baking skills. Hope you do great at the Fair!

jo robertson said...

I loved, loved, loved your post, Joan. If writing were easy, everyone WOULD be doing it!! And we need to constantly remind ourselves of that at the low points.

I'd be the DH, designated hitter, because I just like saying the words LOL.

Aunty Cindy said...

Okay, Aunty admits that baseball was never her "thang" since she couldn't throw or hit (though being a lefty, pitchers couldn't really pitch to me), and yes, she was one of the last chosen...

I DO like the idea of playing "short crop" however. heh heh ;-)

And BIG THANX to Helen for the words of encouragement. They mean so much, especially coming from a READER! That is why we all write, TO BE READ! And why all us AYUs must hang in there... for our READERS! We have great stories to tell, and goodies to bake, and eat!

Besides, as the most often quoted line in this movie goes, "There's no crying in baseball!"


Joan said...

Helen, it is reader's like you who do keep us coming up to the plate in hopes of hitting that grand slam. (Kind of like our recently pubbed Trish and Jeanne).

And AC, short crop. You're right there is no crying in baseball....

but in front of the computer when you've written The End....(sniff)

Christine Wells said...

I used to play first base in softball, does that count?:-)

Joan, I loved your post and it reminded me of this great quote from Don Whittington:

'It was our talent that led us writers to try writing. We are not
normal. Why? Because we are talented in a way that others are not. Do you think that carpenters hammer secretly at night building
houses in their backyard? Houses they are afraid to show anybody
because someone might think they are not talented? No. They don't
need our validation to be carpenters. They just do it. My point is that to uncover the X-Factor you must indulge your own unique talent. Be as modest as you like at the cocktail party, but when you pick up that keyboard remind yourself that there has never been another writer like you in the entire history of creation. Set yourself free.'

Caren Crane said...

Christine, I need to tape that to the wall! Great quote. Thank you!