One of the first questions anyone will ask me when I mention I write books is: How do you come up with your stories?
Well, on May 26th 2015 Limitless Publishing released a new adult novel I wrote titled, A Life of Inches. The book follows two friends pursuing their dreams of becoming Major League baseball players and fighting for the affection of the same woman. The book opens with the boys around age fifteen and ends with them approaching their forties. So, did I follow the old adage to write what I know?
To start, I am the world’s worst baseball player. Now, I have some athletic ability and I enjoy competing in several activities, but it was obvious from the first throwing drills in little league that baseball and I did not mix. As my brother excelled at crushing the ball, hitting his cut-off man, and knowing when or when not to steal a base, I excelled in warming the bench and giving our coach reasons to slam his forehead into his palm. After two years of little league my parents mercifully allowed me to walk away from the game.
Besides a few pick-up games in the neighborhood, I didn’t attempt serious baseball until I was a junior in high school. I joined a city league and quickly reestablished my spot near the end of the bench, content to hang with friends in the dugout while they won us games. That was until a miracle happened.
Coach called on me to bat during a game and I smashed a ball farther than I thought possible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the ball land as I felt my shoulder pop out of its socket during my swing. The sharp pain that followed almost dropped me to my knees, but if I’m being totally honest, the most vivid part of memory that I hold of the event is the awful suction-like sound my shoulder made as it popped out and then snapped back in again.
The next time I tried to play baseball, it felt like a bad idea from the start. I was freshly 21 and hungover. A few friends and I had flipped on some tunes, opened a large amount of cheap beers, and raged late into the night. One of my companions passed out shortly before dawn causing a problem: He was the starting third baseman on a rec team who had a game starting in four short hours. I raced home, after a greasy breakfast and a few glasses of water, to grab my mitt, and yes, it was the same tiny mitt I had from my youth and no, it didn’t fit well. I took the field at third base and felt the familiar rush of adrenaline that comes with competing.
The good news was, most of the team had been up with me all night so I could excuse any bad play via the events of the night before plus not having played in some time. It turns out, however, that I would need no excuses at all because the first batter hit the third pitch of the game right at me. The ball broke my thumb as I tried to catch it, blood squirting from underneath my thumbnail.
Since then I have successfully stayed off the field, save one work-related softball game. I am a much better person for it, and the world is probably a safer place. So why did I decide to write a book following two guys playing a sport that I am horrible at? Well, I think I mixed what I knew, which was the desire to compete and the drive to succeed in sports and a fantasy that every young boy has about winning a championship for his home baseball team with a home run.
When I look back at how the story was told versus my initial ideas about how it would unfold, I can see that spirit of the story remained intact, even if the events and details evolved dramatically. Now, when I’m asked about how I got the idea for my upcoming YA fantasy/adventure series, which follows a group of teenagers on a mission to restore color to their world, the answer to, “did I write what I know” is a bit more complicated.
The next logical question for you to ask would be, “Did you succeed in writing a story about baseball players even though you’re terrible at the game?”
The answer is: It’s up to you, the reader, to decide. The book, A Life of Inches, is available now on Amazon in print and Kindle editions, and I’d love to hear your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or @douglasesper
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