This has been an exciting summer for baseball in Canada; the Blue Jays, Canada’s only MLB team, are good again and headed to the playoffs for the first time in a very long while. To get there, they made some huge in season trades to add they players they need to match up with the league’s leading powers. One of those players is starting pitcher David Price, who turns out to be an interesting guy in a few different ways.
One thing that I learned about him is that above his locker he apparently has a little sign that says “If you don’t like it, Pitch Better”. I gather this is something he uses to motivate himself; don’t like getting pulled out of the game? Pitch better. Don’t like getting bumped down in the rotation? Pitch better. And so on. (Of course, David Price is also really good and so it’s rare that he actually needs to Pitch Better, but let it pass)
I like it because it places responsibility for success entirely in one’s own hands. Sure there are always outside forces – in Price’s case, what the manager thinks, the other pitchers on his team, the batters he faces – but these things can all be overcome or change if you just Pitch Better. “Just”. Not necessarily easy, but under one’s control.
I have been thinking, lately, of adopting Price’s motto for myself. ‘If you don’t like it, Write Better’. I am very fortunate, and grateful, to have a publisher for The King in Darkness who have been amazing to work with and are as excited about the book as I am. On the other hand, I never did get an agent interested in the work. I’ve had some short stories out without success. When I look around, I’m not as productive as lots of other authors out there. I could bemoan all the various reasons why this might be the case.
Or I could Write Better.
Look, I know there are big and important barriers in the way of lots of writers out there; writers from minority backgrounds in particular have had, and continue to have, real problems getting their work taken seriously by publishers and by readers. Telling them to write better in the face of their problems would be insensitive at best and probably quite offensive.
On the other hand, I am fortunate in not having those societal barriers in my way. If I don’t like the way things are going, I probably really do just need to Write Better. It has been a kind of tough year in a number of ways (although, the book coming out is emphatically not one of them!) and it’s more than a little empowering to try to remind myself that it’s within my control to get things going a little better.
And so on.
I am not one of those who believes that sports are an essential part of culture and society; most of the time they’re a flavour of entertainment that lots of people enjoy. At the same time, though, there are times when (whether we ideally should or not) we can draw inspiration from the things we see athletes do on the field and how they conduct themselves. I’ve written before about something P.K. Subban said giving me a nudge to get the book finished. It’s not hard to be inspired by someone like Clara Hughes. And although I haven’t actually written my version of David Price’s motto above my laptop screen yet, but I think I might.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Jean-François Plouffe and Mélodie Lévesque at Renaissance Press made a fantastic trailer for The King in Darkness which you can check out here, please share it around!
Also, one last reminder that Renaissance will be at the Ottawa Geek Market and Capital Gaming Expo this weekend! There will be an puzzle room by Escape House, a Lego play area (!!!) and all sorts of other amazing stuff to do. I will also be at the Renaissance booth Sunday if you’d like to get a copy of The King in Darkness and say hello while you do. I’m looking forward to it!
(I have just now realized the potential bad pun with ‘Pitch Better’ and trying to sell things to publishers/agents. I do apologize. 😛