From Mechanical Pencils to the Batter’s Box: The Jessica Swift Softball Story

Sometimes the call of duty beckons and you have to step out of your comfort zone and into the strike zone. This weekend, that happened.

BF (nickname for my boyfriend, whose innocence I try to protect) plays softball during the summer. He’s on a coed slow-pitch team composed of wonderful folks who enjoy the sport, beer, and being in the sun on a Sunday. And, while this may be hard to believe, before I sat on my ass for a living (OK, OK, I do a little more than just sit there), I was athletic. An athlete. I played sports. I used to count down the days until basketball season started—the same for softball.

But as time progresses (and muscles, um, change) we sometimes find that what we once found fulfilling has somehow moved out of our lives. That was softball, for me.

So I’ve been attending BF’s games, and have been keeping the books (an oh-so-appropriate task for the editor girlfriend!). But this weekend . . . This weekend, I was needed. We got the text. “We’re down a player. Can Jess play?” BF looked at me out of the corner of his. My stomach flipped—with both excitement and anxiety. When the hell was the last time I swung a bat?

“I’m in!” I shrieked, forgetting all about the mechanical pencils stashed in my purse. Because, you see, I wasn’t happy with the layout of the book, and the way scores are kept. So, last week I decided that I would use mechanical pencils to adjust the books so that the scores and outs, etc., were more accurately reflected. (Made sense to me. A teeny-tiny little edit and the book would be perfect. Occupational hazard for an editor, I guess. Show me a book, and I want to improve it.)

But not last Sunday! I was not going be on the sidelines scribbling furiously with my red and purple pencils. I was going to be in on the action. And action it was!
I swung the bat. I caught the balls. I got out. I missed some balls. I ran (yeah, me!). I fell. I got up. I slid.

And it all felt good. Now? Not so much. Everything hurts. Everything. (OK, well, my ears don’t hurt. But everything else does.) Muscles? What muscles? But it doesn’t matter. I stretched myself (and my body) and did something I love but that I’d set aside for years and years.

So what, pray tell, does any of this have to do with writing? Well, let me tell you. An author resides inside many people. But, as a result of one thing or another, that love for writing, that drive for it, wanes and takes a backseat to more important life situations.

But I’m living proof (hobbling proof, in fact), that you can get back into the swing of things (see what I did there?) and stretch muscles you forgot you had, that have laid dormant for so long. You, too, can step up to the plate, flex your fingers (don’t forget to breathe!), and let it fly.

Write the words you’ve been meaning to. Create the character you’ve loved. And you’ll see, as I did, that sometimes it just takes that first step and a flood of passion and inspiration can sweep you away.

I put down my pencils and picked up my bat and I loved every minute of it. And now, I need to go to take some more painkillers, anti-inflammatories, wrap up an ice pack so I can ice my bruised body, and get back to editing.

(Please note: BF came up with the title for this post. Because, you know, he’s totally supportive of my writing and editing. AND, it helps that I went six for nine!)


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