What do Golfers and Writers have in common?

Golfing child's play

“Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it’s open to anybody who owns hideous clothing.” – Dave Barry

We decided it was time to introduce LT to the salesperson’s staple, golf. Or at least we decided it was time to take him to the driving range. It is an outdoor activity, but one somewhat protected from the summer’s sun. Once there, Lamont placed a ball on the tee and handed LT a child-sized driver. The club might look like a putt-putt club that should consider laying off carbs for a while but it was nevertheless adorable in LT’s hands. Lamont then wrapped his own hands around LT’s and demonstrated proper form. Tap. The club connected sending the ball all of a foot or so. LT, emboldened by such a clear display of his natural talent, announced he no longer needed any additional parental support. “I do it myself.”

Lamont and I moved over to give LT enough space to continue to master his long game while we alternated taking some swings of our own in another stall with the supervision of our budding Rory McIlroy. “Is this right?” LT asked. The ball was on the rubber tee, but LT now gripped the club upside down. Not waiting for an answer, he swung shaft at the ball. Whiff. He swung again. The breeze created by the shaft as it passed was enough to knock the ball off the tee but not much farther.

“No honey. Hold it from this end.” I flipped the club over and handed it back to him. “See? Watch what Daddy does.” Lamont approached his own ball and sent it flying with a whack-ping. LT grinned as I returned the ball to the tee. He then proceeded to run toward the ball, swinging the club as a weapon, as if recreating a scene from the movie, Happy Gilmore. However, I should mention he also did so starting from the wrong direction.

I picked up the ball he’d been so kind to send my way (thankfully, he still has to work on the force of his follow through), depositing it once again in front of him. “No honey. Like this. Watch Mommy this time.” Tap. “Okay. You try.”

“Like this?” The club head was on the ground. His body faced the correct way. But… the flat face of the club head was now pointed away from the ball. Once again, he swung before I could stop him. Chaos theory was demonstrated in real-time as the driver’s curved back-end made contact with the ball. It is appropriate that LT’s age is four.

What do the Golfer and Writer have in common? They both can benefit from a good Titleist. (ba dum dum) Did I not tell you I enjoy bad puns

If you are now done groaning over my very creative segue, I am happy to report that I have entered into the back nine of my current manuscript’s draft in progress (actually I am further than that, but back five doesn’t exactly work with my metaphor). This means it is probably time to start considering giving it, at least, a working title beyond PGA2 (not to be confused with the Professional Golf Association).

According to publishing experts, the best titles contain no more than two or three ideas and include at least once PINC component: Promise, Intrigue, Need, or Content. They should also include precise nouns and/or action verbs and the best titles also make you think about their meaning once when you first see it on the cover and again when you finish the book. Finally, you want to make them stand out in their genre, but easy enough to remember (and be able to say) when it comes time for your reader to recommend a book to a friend. However, even when you follow the expert’s instructions, coming up with a good title is harder work than you might think.

The Fair & Foul’s original working title was Progressions of Titan. While I was writing, I thought it was a pretty great title. Less than three ideas? Check. Who or what was the Titan? Initial intrigue – check. My story contained characters who sought to be leaders of industry and improve the human condition only to become modern Titans in the mythic sense. Double meaning – check. Progression is development toward a more advanced state. Precise action verb – check. I performed several google searches and Amazon searches. No other similarly titled books were out there. Unique – check.

Then I said the title out loud to a room of my friends and family.

Always say the title out loud before you settle on it. I thought I’d understood the rules, however, the look on the faces, and awkward “er that’s nice”s of my impromptu focus group was proof enough that, much like LT and his golf swing, my title could benefit from a little more work. It took several more attempts, but eventually I found the one that stuck. Thinking I knew the rules wasn’t enough. I still had to practice.

You never know what you don’t know until you, at first, try.

 

Practice make permanent

A few years ago, my mom gave my eldest son a pair of training roller skates. My son is a fan of instant gratification. When he put the skates on and immediately lost his footing, he grew frustrated and lost interest in learning the new skill. The skates were placed on a shelf in our garage.

Ara hybrid on roller skates at Paphos Bird Park
Skating: So easy???

After some time passed. I would see the skates and ask him if he would be willing to try it again. To give my son credit, he would go along with my suggestion, but then would fall down and rapidly lose interest once again. Finally one day he seemed to get the hang of the process. Sort of. He was able to stay up on his feet, but instead of rolling from point A to point B he would pick up his foot and walk there. It rather defeated the purpose and was a little frustrating to watch.

My husband and I had the brilliant idea that I should strap on my own skates and show him how it is done. The house I had grown up in had been on a cul-de-sac, a round, closed no-through road, which didn’t see a ton of traffic. This gave the neighborhood kids a perfect place to go for any number of outdoor games and activities. At times, it was like our own personal skating rink. I might not have been good enough to compete in something like roller derby, but I was pretty confident on wheels throughout my childhood and teenage years. I ran to pull my skates out of our closet.

As I strapped my feet into my roller blades, it occurred to me that I hadn’t dusted off my skates in several years. My legs wobbled as I stood up. How in the world did I used to do this? The slight incline of my driveway was suddenly extremely intimidating. I heard my husband tell our son, “now look how mommy does it.” Can you say performance anxiety? All I needed was to fall down and crack my head open. We’d never get kiddo to try something new ever again.

I made it down the driveway through a combination of slaloming and walking on the grass. Graceful, I was not. I had wanted to teach my son my skate moves. Instead I taught him that grown-ups need practice sometimes too, even on skills we think we have long since mastered.

Practice Motivation DailyI do not write about topics like positive thinking because I am a Pollyanna, an eternal optimist. I do not see rainbows with every rainstorm. I succumb to pessimism now and then just like everyone else. But I have chosen to post uplifting thoughts because this is how I practice my own internal motivation.

I am reminded of the advice: do not practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. Self-motivation is one skill I may never master, and I am okay with that, but everyday is an opportunity to practice.