Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Racquetball and Writing

To qualify this post before I begin, I've recently "taken up" racquetball, and I have to's WAY fun. I'm no expert, though, so don't expect some creative tips or anything. Sticking to the basics here.

So, without any further ado, here's my post.

It goes without saying that there is a learning curve with any new endeavor. When my husband and I decided to try out racquetball as a fun workout to do together, we had to do a little research. Yes, we got the general idea that you hit the ball back and forth between us until one person couldn't return it (a "rally"), and that there was only one bounce allowed to the ball before you hit it, but we didn't know what the various lines on the floor meant or what happens when the ball hits in the crack between the wall and the floor. These little nuances were unknown to us.

We also had to outfit ourselves for the sport. We bought some majorly cheap rackets from Wal-Mart, as well as a pack of the little bouncy blue balls. We had to have safety glasses in case of getting hit in the eye. I had to buy a sweatband for my head as well as a right-hand glove so I wouldn't get blisters. We bought a $15 case to put all our gear in that was designed for rackets.

Then we got a master racquetball player to give us the inside scoop. He showed us the proper way to handle the racket, some defensive and offensive moves, different types of serves (power, lob and "z" serve), what the lines mean on the floor (serving lines and fault lines for the serve as well as a safety line for the non-serving player to stand behind during the serve) and what happens when someone hinders your shot (call "Hinder!") or you hit someone (do the point over again).

There are some shots that are just too hard to execute properly at this point in our racquetball life. The "Z" serve is extremely hard to do. Neither my husband nor I have successfully done it yet. There are opportunities to dive for the ball that I'm just not up to yet (plus, I want knee pads before I get too crazy in there). I've learned that in this IS okay to hit the wall. But telling that to my inner 10-year-old who was taught never to hit at the wall with anything is hard! I've hit MYSELF against the wall to return a shot. I've learned where on the front wall is a great place to aim for that makes your shot basically non-returnable.

I've also had to get pass the soreness stage. My right forearm and shoulder and elbow were basically useless after the first time we played. I quivered to hold even a glass of water. Eventually, though, the soreness was replaced with a strength that made my shots more sure and myself more confident in my abilities. But before that, I almost wanted to give up. Nothing could be worth that kind of pain, right?

Wrong. Not only is working out for my physical well-being really good to do, but my husband and I laugh our heads off at each others' antics (you got to admit when you make a stab at a ball and come absolutely NOWHERE close to's hilarious). So yes! It's worth it!


It's like a new sport. One in which we had some idea how it was done before we committed to it. Words to a page. But it wasn't until delving deeper that we realized the placement of those words on a page can vary greatly. And the scheme (structure/plot/goal/motivation) we use to get them on the page can be very different, as well!

We outfit ourselves with the craft tools we need: books, laptops, crit partners, conferences, editorial services. All of the craft books we read are like talking with a master player of racquetball. We learn the nuances.

There are still some things that are too hard for us. Perhaps it's writing in omniscient POV or getting a good grasp on goals/motivation/conflict. or perhaps its scenes and sequels or motivation reaction units (and if you don't know what some of these things even are...that's further proof!). But we're YOUNG in the sport! We've got the time to hone these additional skills.

We have to pass a soreness stage. It hurts to have exerted all this effort writing only to have it returned with less-than-stellar marks. A rejection letter. A bad critique. Not finalling in a contest. All of these things are strengthening our writing muscles!

So press on. Soon, you'll be an even more fit writer than you are now...and you'll be laughing your head off at your earlier antics when you missed the ball altogether (those early manuscripts?). :-)

Q4U: What's your favorite sport, and how is it like writing?

Wordle: signature


Keli Gwyn said...

What a great analogy, Jeannie. I've spent three years learning all I can about writing, but I just now feel like I'm ready to get in the game.

Does that mean I waited to send my work out until now? Unfortunately, no. And I have the rejections to prove it. The experience was valuable though. I learned that I need to stretch my writing muscles, reduce the flab in my stories, and practice, practice, practice.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

keli - i just got the scrap book in the mail...and it's AWESOME!! love it! and your business cards are top notch. what company do you use?

Jody Hedlund said...

LOVE your analogy, Jeannie! (And I love your new profile picture! It's beautiful!) I think that writing is so comparable to a workout. I'm really hoping the longer I write, the more stamina I build to up the daily word count. Right now I'm a fairly slow writer and when I hear of other writers pumping out 3000-4000 words in a day, I just shake my head in wonder!

Katie Ganshert said...

Ryan and I totally went through a raquetball phase! We bought fancy raquets and everything. You're right. It is WAY fun! My dad's like a raquetball king - he's seriously amazing at it.

Anyway, great analogy! Running is like writing. The more you do it, the greater your endurance. :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Great analogy. Anything worth doing in life requires putting in the effort to learn it and master it. Of course there are going to be some aches and pains along the way but that's how we build stronger muscles. Gotta strengthen those writing muscles!

Jamie D. said...

I played racquetball in college for awhile, just with a friend. It was fun, but I was always more of a swimmer (non-competitive). Distance, rather than sprints, so it's easy to compare that to writing a novel. Steady, consistent strokes to reach the final goal.

Love your new profile photo. :-)

Krista Phillips said...

Fav sport? Um, I'm not really good at any of them. But I like baseball and volleyball and basketball... all FUN to play but stinks that I stink at them. LOL.

Okay, fine, I'll pick baseball. And it's like writing....

because you have the three bases right?

You try to hit, but strick out a lot. THis is getting an agent.

WHen you finally get to first WOOHOO. Agent, CHECK.

Then you get batted to second by your agent, which is "editor shows a bit of interest"

Then you get batted to third, which is "Editor contracts your novel!" WOOHOO!

And then home is your novel actually selling once it's published so it's not a complete bomb. *grin*

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

great analogy, krista! lord, please...let us get to home base. :)

Jessica said...

I have never, ever played raquetball, but it sounds SO fun! I don't have a favorite sport, I love them all. LOL! Seriously, if there's competition, I'm in.

Not sure that's a good way to relate it to my writing though...*embarrassed cringe*

sherrinda said...

Oooo...nice post! I think my writing journey is kinda like badmitton. Life is like the wind tosses my birdie just out of reach. So many distractions and responsibilites make my writing take a back seat to where I miss out on the steady practice I need. I loved that picture!!! :)

Tara said...

My husband tried to teach me to play racquetball. It ended with me chasing him with my racquet. :] For me writing is like basketball. There's only so much I can do. I need teammates: awesome critique partners to encourage me, an agent who can take the point, an editor who can come up with plays, and a publishing house that can sponser the game.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Love that!

My hubby plays racquetball. What a wonderful workout!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

that's awesome tara! i love the sponsorship idea. ;)