As a rabid sports fan in my teen years, I could tell you who won the
World Series for every season during the ‘80’s.
That was more general sports knowledge, however (like knowing Larry Bird
averaged EXACTLY 10.0 rebounds a game for his career), than actually caring
about the game. If I was a fan of any
team, it would have been the Montreal Expos, but I hardly ever watched a game.
In 1997, I moved to Kansas City and started attending Royals games with
my wife and her baseball-mad family.
Over time, I fell in love with going to the ballpark and from there with
the team that played in it. The only
problem was that the Royals of 1997-2012 gave their fans very little to care
about. Literally, my only desire heading
into each season was for the team to remain relevant until school let out at
the end of May. Even with such a low
bar, they only managed to accomplish the task once during that time, in 2003. So, by the time summer rolled around, my
sports life was usually consumed with NHL finals, NBA finals and NFL training
What does this have to do with me being a writer? I’m getting there.
In 2013 the Royals were actually kind of decent. They never really contended for a playoff
spot that year, but they held my attention through September by posting the
best record in the majors after the all-star game. The next summer they were even better and
after a rough midseason stretch, they once again played as the best team in the
game after the midseason break. Only
this time, they were in contention for a playoff spot
August of 2014 also happened to be the month I joined the writing group
known as the Wordwraiths. As a
new member of a writing group, I was trying to learn the ropes of what it meant
to be accountable to other writers to produce material and provide
feedback. Knowing I was new, they took
it easy on me early.
The “writing year” for them, I found out, culminated with an
event in November known as National Novel Writing Month. The challenge for the writer is to produce
50,000 original words in the month. The
group made it clear that NaNoWriMo, or NaNo as it is called, was the focal
point and we were all expected to complete the word goal. Armed with naiveté (or perhaps stupidity), I
didn’t really think the task sounded all that daunting.
Then the Royals made the playoffs and took me and the entire city on a
magical run through October culminating with an exhilarating and ultimately
crushing defeat at the hands of the San Francisco Giants on October 29. Everything buttressed perfectly, and two days
later, I began my first (and ultimately successful) run at NaNo.
This year I’m scared.
One thing the Royals new winning ways taught me last year was just how
much time goes into following a baseball team.
They play essentially every day for three plus hours, and they almost
always play at night! In other words,
during the time when I should be writing.
And this fall’s schedule looks considerably less accommodating than last
years. Now, baseball playoffs are a
funny game, and it is entirely possible that the Royals will be finished
playing by October 11, even though they currently have the best record in the
American League by a wide margin. But,
it is also possible that they could play in Game 7 of the World Series this
year, a game played on November 4, and one of three scheduled during the month
My secret to getting 50,000 words in a month last year? I wrote about 20,000 in the first week. From there I paced myself until I finished on
the last day possible.
This year? I just might be
watching baseball instead. So, here’s to
the Royals in 4! Or maybe I can take a
lesson from the team itself. Most
experts picked them to finish fourth in their division this year (out of five
teams) even though they made the World Series last year. Instead, they have the best record in the
American League. Most experts picked the
Royals to lose right away in last year’s playoffs. Instead, they rattled off a record eight
consecutive wins to start the postseason.
So, maybe I will find myself challenged trying to balance writing an
average of 1,600+ words per day while also watching as much as 12 hours of
baseball. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll be
celebrating TWO wins come the end of November.
:=} Chris and the Wordwraiths