Keep Your Eye on the Ball

My brother played Little League baseball, and his position was catcher.  I loved his extra-large glove, a padded catcher’s mitt that had could receive fast-balls without bouncing out or bruising his hands.  As a player, my brother was like most catchers: undervalued.  He was just the place where good pitches ended.  He was merely the guy hanging around to toss the ball back to the pitcher.  The pitcher was the star in the middle of the field, where the action was.

How wrong that concept is.  The catcher is the heart of the team, the guy who keeps the ball in play.  The catcher is the guy who, more than any other player, has his eye on the ball.  Not only on the ball, but on the batter, to figure out how the opposing team is trying hit.  Catchers see it all.  My brother was especially picked for this position because he was constantly on the alert, using his ADHD hyper-focus to stay on top of each pitch, each play, to prevent each runner from reaching home base.

As writers, we often think the glory of a story resides in the action.  We often get excited in the first draft stage, in love with the movement of the plot.  But as writers, we shouldn’t think like pitchers, we should think like catchers.  We need to hold our ground and keep our eyes on the ball, at all times.  We need to be the person who captures the bullet-sped ball and hurls it back where it belongs, instinctively.  We need see the big picture played out as we watch the field from the privileged spot right under the umpire’s eyes.  We are the only player looking out from the point of view of the crowds, who knows what the audience witnesses.  Like the catcher, it is the writer who puts the whole story together, knows where each play can be made, is able to tag out the opposition out before they can slide into home.

Write like a catcher.  Keep your eye on the ball.sue 3

Sue is Pulp Literature’s Acquisition editor.  You can hear her interviewed by Kathrin Lake of the Vancouver School of Writing on Vancouver Co-op Radio, 100.5 FM at 2pm today.

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