Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Being Beast

by Julie Coulter Bellon

So, the basketball season has started and with five of my seven children participating, I watch a lot of basketball games. Each Saturday we start early, and pretty much run from one game to another. This Saturday I have six basketball games scheduled to watch (one of which I’m coaching. I’m also supposed to play in one) and then that evening we’re going to watch the Jazz game. Yeah. That’s a lot of basketball.

But I’m not going to whine or complain about coaches or refs. Today, I’d like to talk about women’s basketball. Women’s basketball in my stake has started and this means that basketball practice has started. In the past, playing in the games hasn’t been so bad because only kids ever come to watch (if anyone) so I don’t have to worry about embarrassing myself. But last night, there I was, in my exercise clothes, debating on whether or not I should go to basketball practice, because I knew that the young men would be there doing their practice (and could see me practicing) and I know that since I’ve had baby number seven, my body and my skills aren’t what they used to be. So I didn’t know if I wanted to practice in public (the public being twelve to sixteen year old boys and their young men leaders. People that I have to see every Sunday). What if I embarrassed myself? I put my shoes on, and went over to the church, and sighed with relief that no other women had shown up. I told myself I’d go home and walk on my treadmill or something, since I was already in my exercise clothes, but, just to be fair, I’d give it five more minutes. Of course, three other women showed up in those five minutes and one of them played college ball and is really good. I groaned inwardly, and smiled outwardly as we started. We shot some shots for a while and I was totally intimidated by the college ball girl because she sank almost every shot. Then she suggested we play speed. I dutifully lined up, and shockingly held my own. It came down to just the two of us several times and she won, but still! I was the other girl left standing. So, that built up my confidence a little bit, until she suggested we play a little two on two.

You know, I wasn’t half bad. Even when the other team clawed me (I have the wounds this morning to prove it!) I still was able to keep up, guard my player, and make a few shots. And as I was driving home, some young men shouted out, “Hey, great job, Bellon. You were beast on the court tonight.” (Apparently, beast is a good thing. Being beast is like being really awesome or cool. Or so I’ve heard.) And after that, I decided that going to basketball practice might not be so bad.

I think this is a lot like writing. Sometimes, we sit there with our story, wondering if it’s good enough to submit. We know we have what it takes, but if we submit it, other people might see. And what if they laughed? Or rejected it? What if you get as far as sending it, only to find you didn’t put enough postage on or the email address was wrong so it comes back to you. Is that an omen? Should you wait around five more minutes and then try again? Or forget it? And, what if you’re friends with a published author who is so good, and she’s recently submitted something to the same publisher, and you feel like there isn’t any way you could ever be as good as her, so why bother trying?

We should bother trying, because I think we surprise ourselves. I haven’t met anyone harder on themselves than writers. And like my basketball practice, even though I was worried about my appearance and how I would stack up to the other players, in the end, I held my own. I surprised myself.

Of course, I did get clawed, and sometimes, in the publishing business, you will get comments, criticism, or feedback that can hurt, but you chalk it up to a war wound, and move on, because that’s what happens when you’re in the game. If you were still sitting on the sidelines, wondering if you should even be there, you wouldn’t even get on the court, you wouldn’t improve and never go anywhere else but the sidelines. If you’re a benchwarmer, sitting on a great idea or a manuscript, get in the game! Get ready to get better. And then go for it. You will surprise yourself at how good you really are.

And maybe, just maybe, those people who you were so sure would laugh or reject you, will tell you that your manuscript is beast and they would love to represent it or publish it. And once you’ve been told how beast you are, you know that this is the place for you. You can do it. You belong. So get to it.


At 1/14/2010 3:44 PM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...

I remember church sports from my youthful years. Brutal.


At 1/14/2010 3:49 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Go Julie!! Way to be beast on the court.

I loved your analogy of "war wounds" and how you don't get them unless you're in the game. I've gotten a few scratches lately, so it's good to be reminded that they're part of the game--and no way would I rather be sitting on the sidelines.

At 1/14/2010 7:24 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Stephanie, thanks! I'm glad it made sense to someone.

Charlie, sometimes it surprises me how brutal it is. But there's lot of war stories to tell when you're older, right?

Thanks for the comments!

At 1/14/2010 7:29 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

Way to rock it on the court, Julie! Glad you got out there and played with heart. It's not always easy to do.
As for your writing, you always play it with heart and I'm proud of you!

At 1/14/2010 11:13 PM, Blogger Krista said...

Great shot of encouragement! How can we know if we fall or fly unless we jump (and keep jumping)?

At 1/15/2010 11:17 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Could we please get Annette in here to clear up the "beast" thing for me? I'm familiar with "beast" as a noun, "Beast" as a proper noun, and "beastly" as an adjective, but . . . being beast? Clearly, the English language has left me behind.

Nevertheless, LOVE the post. You are beast at basketball, blogging, book-ing, and everything else you put your mind to! (Did I use "beast" right? I know the rest is correct, what with "writing" and "booking" being synonymous.)


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