With the city skyline gleaming above them, the Charlotte Knights played the first game in their new stadium last Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd. It was an auspicious beginning. The Knights tied the game before losing the season opener, but as the players left the field, they knew the entire season was ahead of them. With more practice and good coaching, they had every chance of making the playoffs.
Writers are no different from baseball players. Both careers are a lot more work than they look. We begin with talent, but must practice relentlessly and listen to coaches to correct flaws that we ourselves don’t see. We strike out more often than we’d like, but we also get frequent singles and doubles. An article here, a poem there. A steady paid writing gig. Good enough to pay the bills, but not good enough to break out from the crowd.
As a Triple-A team affiliate, the Knights have to work even harder than major league teams for recognition. The players, like writers, not only want be become local stars, they want to break out from the pack to sign with the majors.
Superstar writers, like superstar athletes are the exception, rather than the rule. But with practice and by applying feedback from teachers, editors and other writers, good writing gets better and better writing can become great. We regularly begin hitting doubles and triples. And once in a while, when talent, skill, multiple revisions and the stars align, we hit a home run and move on to the big leagues.
But that’s not the end. Even as we promote our work, we have to be on to the next. Excellence – and success as a writer – means constantly writing, revising, listening to critiques and rewriting. It’s a job, like any other. And if we’re not at the top of our game, like a baseball player that goes cold, we will be sent back down to the minors.