Choosing sides for volleyball & other curious forms of torture


Reason #10 I love going to writers’ conferences: never having to choose sides for volleyball (or softball or basketball . . . ). You see, I possess no eye/hand coordination. Zippo. My left hand is only there to make me look symmetrical. Strictly window dressing. It’s a wonder I can type. So, it’s a real load off not having to demonstrate my athletic ineptitude for the astonishment of my fellow writers. Oh, sure, authors can be strong athletes, but I’m confident a lot of us were picked last (or next to last on a good day) when choosing teams in gym class. We were out of our element and there was no competing with the real sports people.

Of course, that doesn’t mean authors don’t engage in our own kind of competition. I’m not talking about contests. It’s more about the weird competitive dynamic among writers seeking to be published. We have this crazy notion in our heads that there are a finite number of publishing contracts to be had and when one of our fellow writers snags one, that’s one less available for us. Well, hey, now. It’s not like that. There’s no song that goes like “A hundred publishing contracts on the wall, a hundred publishing contracts, take one down, pass it around, ninety-nine publishing contracts on the wall . . . .” (Thank goodness because that would be really tedious.)

The truth is, we compete with ourselves for what we want. We compete with our own schedules, inner critic and insecurities for dominance. We are not competing against each other. We are not rivals. We can all win. And for the record, it’s been my experience that children’s writers are among the most generous, supportive and encouraging people toddling on ten toes. My husband was shocked by this. He couldn’t understand why writers would be so helpful to people who are their competitors. Maybe it is odd–but the good kind.

And, by the way, if we were choosing sides for volleyball, I would totally pick you. (But please, please don’t bump the ball to me!)

I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it. ~ Walt Disney

11 responses »

  1. Hi Vicky!
    That was refreshing to read and so true! You brought me back to childhood. I do remember not being picked sometimes. The anxiety and *personal* shame of it all! Also, I remember feeling worthy, being in good company at writers conferences. Maybe I will return one of these times. I enjoyed it so much! Good read, lady.
    Kind regards,


  2. So you were in my gym class, too? I never hated sports till I fell off the bluff at Orchard Beach in Manistee in 8th grade and broke my tail bone. After that any exertion on my part caused me great pain and humiliation. So I was very happy to write and tell the gym teacher to take her bat and balls and (Bleeeeep!)…. So if anyone needs help with writing–I’m there. If you want to play sports… go fish.


  3. I didn’t have to get past your first paragraph. There were two of us girls, ALWAYS picked last, especially for the running field day events. Just not my forte! I’m forging ahead on clay models today, recording expressions for 6 characters I’m working on, and find I’m “running” just fine with this. Thanks for posting this.


  4. I so needed this today Vicky! Thanks for your honesty about the whole volleyball thing…you and I would have been together on the “who gets picked last” side. So good to be reminded that we’re all in this together! (I think there’s a Disney song in there somewhere…oh wait…that one’s already been done!)


    • So glad you found some encouragement today. And you know what? We can form our own volley ball team. We’ll get a fresh, white volleyball and we can all write little haikus and fun word words all over it. Thanks for stopping by, Patti!


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