Writing, Stealing, and Striking Out

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1. Writing by the Numbers

Writing is like dreaming, it takes you to places you couldn’t even imagine, and it’s fun. And re-writing is fun, because you get to fix it while reading it again, which if it’s any good, is fun!

I once read a popular novelist say that thinking up ideas wasn’t a chore, but the actual writing was drudgery. I immediately thought that he “writes by numbers”–you know, an introduction here, a description here, a dialogue here, a conflict here…. He’s right, that is drudgery.

2. Vile and Worthless

If you’re not to steal from any man, “no matter how vile or worthless he may be,” then what about all the other commandments? Should we forgive and turn the other cheek to the cheat who wrongs us? He’s bound to be as vile and worthless as they come.

It’s funny how when it comes to committing wrongs we focus on the ‘other guy’ all the time. It seems to me that not stealing from or hating your fellow man ‘no matter how vile or worthless’ he may be, is saying that the act of stealing or hating is all about ‘us’–not the other guy. You don’t hate those rotten kids making a racket in your front yard because the hate moulds you–it becomes you and your destiny, and you get locked into it for a lifetime. And thus “does the dust of hell also enshroud you,” would the vile and worthless guy say.

3. Striking Out

I struck out on three pitches when I was eight years old, and it has left a lasting impression on me. I got suckered into swinging at three ‘drop’ pitches by the older boys. They were all friendly and laughing, and the boy with the ball came up real close to me, almost kneeling, and pitched the ball so soft, so slow. It ballooned up in front of me and came almost straight down over the plate and I swung with all my might. I missed it. OK, I thought, I’ll hit the next pitch. But no, I was out on three pitches. Their giggles disappeard and they went back to their game and I sat down.

Many years later I was at Columbia Park in Portland, Oregon, watching ten year olds play ball. I was also talking to a Japanese family that had recently arrived in America. The father could speak English, but not the wife and ten-year-old daughter. Still I could tell that the child wanted to play, so I asked the father if I could introduce her to the other children. The boys agreed to let her play, and she stepped up to the plate to bat.

The first pitch was gentle enough, nothing mean, and the girl swung and missed. Uh-oh, I thought, three pitches and out. I said to the boy, let her hit the ball, and he smiled and nodded.  But I could tell that he didn’t really understand. As he entered his windup I ran out and stopped him, and said, “You need to hit her bat with the ball.” Now he understood. He started to throw the ball, but stopped. I could see him thinking and readjusting his mind-set.  Then he threw the ball and she hit it into the outfield and ran to first base.

Sometimes we wait years to figure out why things happen to us.

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About soaringdragons

Twenty years and still alive--in China, that is. I write about China and the world of spirit--all very non-expertly--and whatever else strikes my fancy. You'll find posts on even days of the month.
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