I’m pleased to send the third installment of my Christmas short to my newsletter subscribers. Keep reading to enjoy it, as well as the first two. The last one will come out on the 30th, so be sure to look for that.
I wanted to share a little personal story with you as well. I joined my husband’s pool team a year and a half ago. To say I went kicking and screaming is an understatement. However, my husband is a super high level player and in order for him to participate, he needs lower level players on the team. I am terrible with spatial awareness and anything geometric. I’m not particularly competitive when it comes to games or sports. I hate doing stuff I’m bad at in front of other people. I like to go to bed early so I’m bright-eyed to write during work hours. I’m focused intently on the kids and my work – writing is hard and takes a ton of concentrated effort, leaving little energy for learning something new. And the kids are teenagers, so enough said there. All of these things factored into why I didn’t want to join the team.
However, there was one huge factor that convinced me to do it. I love my husband. He’s so good to the kids and me, without asking for much in return. This was something I could do for him. Even though it was super scary, I did it. I won’t lie. This wasn’t like those movies where I have a hidden talent and I suddenly discover it and then there’s a series of montages set to music as I triumph over the meanest opponent in the bar and all my teammates surround me at the end and lift me into the air while chanting my name.
No. It was humiliating defeat, week after week with no background music to make my losses poignant. As Cliff said one night, “You’d be fine if it weren’t for your terrible aim.”
I even cried a couple of nights. This probably sounds really stupid, but I was embarrassed and ashamed. I hated everyone watching me, knowing that my husband is so good and probably wondering how in the world I couldn’t improve when I have access to him and a pool table at home. The whole experience was kind of awful, other than the wonderful people I met on my team and other teams. Honestly, that’s what kept me going back. I grew attached to the people, which is true of almost every season of my life. It’s the people who matter.
That and I didn’t want to let Cliff down. It’s nearly impossible to find low level players who stay that way. Which I did so well. We had MANY teary discussions on the way home in which I told him, this was it. Next session you have to find someone else. During these teary rants, Cliff always stayed calm. He said I could do whatever I wanted, but that he thought I should stick with it. Just one more session and then we’ll see.
Well, I listened to him and kept giving it one more session. I don’t know why, other than I love him so much and I’d grown so fond of our pool friends. We’d added a couple of awesome guys to the team who made me laugh even though I was disgusted with my playing. Other than my embarrassing playing, Tuesday evenings were fun.
And then something started to happen. I found myself enjoying practicing at home. During little breaks from writing, I would sneak in a bit of practice, mostly when I had a plot problem to work through. On Tuesdays, I started winning every once in a while too, which is pretty damn fun.
Too, the loyalty and support of my team members made me want to continue. They were never rude or discouraging, simply offered suggestions week and week. Over the summer, I started seeing minor improvements and then just this last month some major ones. After a year and a half, mind you!
Then, last night, during playoffs, I actually played well. I knew which balls to try for first and how to hit the cue ball to make certain things happen. I stayed calm, even when I made a mistake. I remembered all the words the ‘boys’ on the team had told me about form and aim and strategy…and I won! As one of my teammates said afterword, “You hit FIVE balls in a row!”. To most of the people who play in that bar, five would be like, whatever. For me, it was huge. This doesn’t mean I’m great all of the sudden. I’m still terrible, but I’m BETTER. FINALLY, I’m a little better and that feels good.
All this to say, I’m so glad I stuck with it even though I wanted to quit so many times. In some ways, it’s like the journey I’ve taken as a writer. All those rejections of the early years; all the tears and despair and self doubt; all the times I thought I should quit – only on a grander scale because writing was something connected deeply to my ego.
Why should I share about my pool journey? I felt compelled because that’s what I do. But also because I try to use social media as a platform to inspire and encourage others. I know I’m not the only one who went out of my comfort zone this year. I’m assuming I’m not alone in struggling to be better at something simply for the benefit of the person I love. I am quite certain there are others who want something desperately that seems impossible. Whatever it is you’re trying to do – if you truly care about it – keep going. I’ve said this a lot over the years. Do not give up. Do you hear me? I’ll say it again. Do not give up.
Professionally, I’ve had a few great years, making the ten years of struggle before now worth it. There are still milestones to reach, of course. I’m nowhere near where I hope to be but I know now my dreams will come true. I just have to show up every day at this desk and keep working harder than I think I can.
Happy holidays, friends. Wishing you all a new year full of triumphs, hopefully with flattering montages set to music.
Much love to you and yours. XO