teammates

i had some mind blowing experiences this week. and now that i’ve scraped the brains off the walls, i’m here to tell the tale.

experience #1. i had dinner with a grad school friend. her husband calls these dinners our “secret meetings” which makes us feel all kinds of sneaky and spy like, but in all reality, we’re just eating, drinking, giggling, gossiping, and talking writing. i don’t have many writerly friends that i can see IN PERSON on a regular basis and there’s something to be said about sharing a beer while lamenting the lack of character voices in our heads. (and that’s why we’re NOT spies. sometimes, we hear voices. it gets distracting when you’re trying to do recon.)

but the really amazing thing was that she handed over my MS. the one i’ve been working on since before, through, and after grad school. my first love. and also the one i was taking a break from. she’d had it since july, but to be fair, was going through some crazy times and life got in the way. i get it. my writing is not a priority of hers, but in this time when i still haven’t figured out the whole “how to get critique partners” thing, she’s all i’ve got. and it may have taken 4 months, but man, did she deliver. and we talked about my manuscript in-depth 3 different times over the course of the meal! i even got my pen out and started taking notes. i can’t tell you how refreshing that felt. she laid out the weakness and pumped up the strong points and suggested some ideas that got my brain aswirling. i left dinner on a writerly high i haven’t felt since grad school ended. and i left excited about my first love MS all over again. i felt like a real writer (for probably the third time in my life). i left there with attainable goals of what to fix and how to fix it. that was the most delicious part.

experience #2. i played squash again. of course i lost every single match, but my serve is consistently in and i am hitting some hot shots and most importantly, i am getting on the scoreboard. sure, i keep forgetting the ball doesn’t bounce and so i wind up in a tennis motion only to swing and hit air. (yeah, it’s as embarrassing as it sounds). but for only having played the game twice, for a total of 2 hours, my improvement is pretty rapid, i must say. so much so that i’m thinking about getting my own gear. (Santa, you listening?) this game is addicting. it’s refreshing. it’s exhilarating. it’s FAST. and it gives me an attainable goal. beat my coworker. that is the most delicious part.

but the thing i learned that splattered my brains across the walls?

i realized that i can’t do this alone.

you can’t play squash by yourself and you can’t write all by yourself. sure, i’m in charge of my own production (whether it’s returning a shot or writing a novel), but you need a teammate there to return the volley or spin you around and point you down the path towards THE END.

i’ve had teammates all my life, in the form of soccer and lacrosse and basketball and tennis teams and siblings and friends and cousins. why is it so shocking that i still need them?

probably because i’m a perfectionist and when i set my mind to do something, i know (read: i think) that the best way to get it done is to do it my way. but that isn’t always right and frankly, it gets lonely. i’m tired of that. i’m ready to accept any and all forms of help. whether it’s in the shape of a squash racket, manuscript critiques, or a RAH RAH YOU CAN DO IT from the sidelines.

phew.

epiphanies are exhausting.

(or maybe it’s just all that running around the squash court.)

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10 Responses to “teammates”

  1. Jeannie Moon Says:

    Those writing teammates keep you from going down for the third time, in my experience. In good times they are as happy as you are because of a success, and in bad times they keep you from giving up.

    You’ve created a great network for yourself Abby, mostly because you are good teammate. Tap into it. :-) My hand is up.

    • abby mumford Says:

      the beauty of grad school was that you had to turn in your work for critiques. it was expected. it was required. but being removed from grad school for a couple of years, i got mixed up in the “it’s not good enough yet. let me revise one more time, then i’ll ask someone to read it” loop that just kept circling and circling and do you know how hard it is to write when you’re dizzy?

      i see you and your hand raised and i’m working on one last edit before i’m going to call on you. seriously. just this one last one. i have a self-imposed mid-Nov deadline. then, you’re up. :) (thanks in advance!)

  2. Linda G. Says:

    *\o/* *\o/* <–Those are your cheerleaders. :)

    Congrats on the writing and the squash! Sounds like you have the most important ingredient to any success story: persistence. Well, you obviously have natural ability, too, but natural ability will only take you so far without persistence pushing you along. :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      i love the cheerleaders! (wow, first time i’ve ever said that.)

      and yes, thanks for the reminder about the persistence. it’s an integral part of the writing process also known in slang as “sit your butt in the chair and type.”

  3. Sierra Godfrey Says:

    Agree with Linda! Persistence and support are the keys–I truly believe they’re the most powerful elements.

    • abby mumford Says:

      for some reason, when i saw the word elements, i immediately thought of wind and waves and weather and i really like adding persistence and support to that visual.

      what can i say? i love it when mother nature takes care of me.

  4. Kelly B Says:

    I love the new look to the blog.

    I am with you on having friends close that are writers. For me I think my closest is Karla and she is like eight hours away.

    But I work really hard at nurturing those relationships b/c they are important. Plus I want someone reading my stuff that gets me. Not that the masses who may someday read it have to get me, but for that starting point, I need to feel a little secure and this is the way to do it.

    BTW I am sure anyone of the Book Hungry members, myself included would be up for critiquing your MS. No pressure, but I thought I would throw it out there.

    • abby mumford Says:

      thanks! i’m aiming to make my blog more reader friendly. i think i’m headed in the right direction.

      and yes, i agree that you are very good at nurturing your relationships.

      and i just may take you up on your offer to critique. i hear from patty that you’re a miracle worker. :)

  5. Karla Nellenbach Says:

    First of all< hats off to you for playing squash….that is one sport that scares the bejesus out of me…well, that and golf (that's because where i live water hazards contain all sorts of creep crawlies I don't even want to think about *shivers*)

    Second, it sounds to me like you've got a great foundation started in your writing, and as Kelly said, if you want a crit all you got to do is email any one of us BH peeps. We're here for you, sister :)

    • abby mumford Says:

      um, yeah. with squash, i don’t have to worry about alligators crawling out of the water hazards. i think i’ll stick with that and leave the golfing to the professionals.

      and thank you for your crit offer. i have a hard time asking for help and i didn’t want to put anyone in an awkward position…..but it has come time where i’ve done all i can do. i need objective feedback. i may come calling! or emailing. or tweeting. or crawling out of the water hazard.

      you’ve been warned.

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