You’re a scout for a college baseball team. You travel all over the state, watching high school games with an eye toward recruiting the best of the best. The handful of guys that’ll give your college team the edge. You see good players, exceptional players, and players who need to put down their gloves and pursue basket weaving.
One day, in some podunk town, you look around before the game and see a kid pitching to a younger kid. Brother maybe. The pitcher has a mean, mitt-burning fastball. He captures your interest. You watch for a while. He’s got great form. His pitch is spot-on time after time. Grab your radar, clock him at 105 mph. Killer fastball.
Your blood’s pumping. You can really use this kid. But a quick conversation with him lets you know he’s never played the game. He’s a natural, and you’re interested, but he still has a lot to learn. Curve-ball, change-up, knuckle-ball. How to field, to cover first, third, or home plate when necessary. How to read a batter. How to pitch himself out of trouble. The team’s coaches can teach him all that, but they need a great pitcher for the new season. Someone ready to go now.
Do you sign him?
After this last rush of submissions to the agent I work for, I saw some good writers, some exceptional writers, and some writers who need to shut down their computers and pursue basket weaving. Not everyone can write; there’s more to it than stringing words into a story. Exceptional writers get contract offers. Good writers are the ones I worry most about. They’re like that pitcher. Natural talent, but still so much to learn.
I do my best to encourage them while letting them know they’re not quite ready for the field. Sometimes I get to hear from them, see their work again, and discover they’ve taken my advice and learned the craft. Does my heart good–especially when they get the contract offer after all their hard work. Most often, however, I never hear from them again, and that’s what makes my job hard. Doesn’t matter whether it’s through the agent or through freelancing, whenever I don’t hear back from someone I’ve advised, I worry that I discouraged them.
But the truth is, no matter what you’re a natural at–baseball, writing, even basket-weaving–there is always room to learn. Raw talent isn’t enough; it must be honed and polished. The person suggesting you do that is on your side, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered. Lick your wounds if you must, but try not to get discouraged. Remember that someone saw enough in your work to write you personally instead of sending a boilerplate rejection.
On a personal note: I got excellent news from my doctor yesterday, which totally surprised me. Those keeping up with me know I’ve been battling a Crohn’s flare-up for over a year. The Humira worked great at first; then, during the past couple of weeks, I noticed it may have been working too well, causing problems I didn’t know how to handle. I haven’t been feeling all that great lately, and this past weekend, I once again went through the pain that kept me from being able to walk easily. That scared me witless.
Dr. D. explained what’s going on with me and let me know it’s all good. Anything going on now is fixable, just a matter of trying this and adjusting that. He was pleased with what he saw and what I told him. Although I didn’t feel worth a flip yesterday, I left the office encouraged.
But the best news is that the damage done to my intestine–damage so severe that surgery would’ve left me getting fed through an artery for the rest of my life–will repair itself with the help of the Humira. There may be some places that are too far gone, but Dr. D. doesn’t seem to think so. I’m absorbing my nutrients and maintaining my weight, both good signs. So next time I have to go through this, surgery may be an option again. Doesn’t really sound appealing, but surgery settles a flare-up quickly by taking out the immediate problem. Once I heal from that, I’m okay again. Continued medication keeps the problem at a minimum. My last med apparently quit working.
There will be a “next time.” That’s the nature of this beast–it doesn’t die. The point of the Humira is to stretch the time between one bout and the next. Sometimes remission can last up to ten years. Ten years of being a normal person! I am so looking forward to that!
Again, thanks to all who care enough to keep me in their prayers. You can’t begin to know how much I appreciate you.