Perspective, Patience, Persistence
I am in a slump.
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no way around it. My post quantity is down, the word counts are lacking. Jokes that used to flow like ouzo at SocratesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ parties suddenly went as dry as a Steve Kelley column.
Worse, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a relative newcomer to USSM, so my dry spell left me whipsawed with regret about the impression I was making in my new surroundings. The last thing I want is to start off in a funk.
So I thought IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d walk around USS Mariner Labs seeking counsel, starting with Dave. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what he said:*
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Not to worry. Historical analysis tells us that writers peak later than those in other professions and are more susceptible to prolonged slumps. I ran the numbers on some authorsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ era-adjusted age at first major publication, tendency for extended writerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s block and relative productivity past 40. I think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll like the results.
NAME TEAM AGE SLU PRO Russell Banks FIC 34.5 0.201 0.410 Henry Roth FIC 28.9 0.610 0.314 Sharon Olds POE 31.0 0.234 0.341 Susan Orlean NON 29.9 0.205 0.352
Sure, there are exceptions, like Arthur Rimbaud and John Keats, but the past indicates that writers get better, especially if they live past their mid-20s. By the way, speaking of life expectancy, your historical comparisons indicate that you should stop writing poems.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Encouraged, I went to Derek. Between sips of Red Hook, I gleaned the following:*
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s true, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve stunk like week-old cheese. But youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got fingers, right? And these fingers, they work, right? Like, they move if your brain implores them to hit keys in succession?
Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, maybe you should just suck it up and write something. Especially if it isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t about steroids. Or a transparent extended metaphor where you make like youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re talking about yourself, but youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re really talking about the Mariners.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Then he muttered something about having a book to finish, though I thought I saw him punch up World of Warcraft.
Peter and Jason were just kind of quiet.
That silence, though, let me reflect. A baseball season is — like T.S. Eliot once said about a writerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s life Ã¢â‚¬â€œ very long. The rich history of the sport tells us that quick judgments are easy, tempting and often wrong. Rewards, my compatriotsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ advice affirmed, stem from perspective, patience and persistence in all things.
We can control the first two qualities in ourselves. If weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re hoping for a turnaround from someone else Ã¢â‚¬â€œ for instance, a certain infielder performing below expectations upon entering a new environment — weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to rely on the latter.
In this case, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re relying on the type of gravitas that enables someone to recover from a life-threatening ailment and the type of dedication shown by carrying around a colostomy bag while fielding grounders.
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re relying on historyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lesson that hitters peak in their late 20s. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re relying on the energy that is youth and the earned wisdom that comes with years of major league experience.
None of these commodities guarantees the end of a frustrating spell. All of them are encouraging harbingers of better results to come.
If the artists formerly known as the Anaheim Angels can start 2002 6-14, then go on to win the World Series — heck, if I can write a post in excess of 500 words — then anything is possible. Even a great player playing like one.
*No, Derek and Dave really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say these things. I made them up.