I’ve never seen 1992’s A League of Their Own, even though it stars one of the greatest modern American actors, and one of my favorites, in Tom Hanks. The film is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, directed by Penny Marshall (and Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell are in it; what an interesting cast).
I am, however, familiar with one of the film’s most famous quotes, “Are you crying? Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball!”
But I came across another an even better quote as far as I’m concerned last night. A writer wrote a funny Tweet about how she has a great idea she wants to write about and yet, she’s gotten up 400 times to make tea and do other shenanigans to procrastinate. “Why is doing what I love so hard?” kind of thing. Someone responded with:
So, I don’t want to read details of the movie to gain context around this scene, but if I had to guess, Tom Hanks runs the team in some manner or fashion or is Geena Davis’ character’s agent, and Davis’ character, like all great moments in film and books, doubts herself when the story reaches the peak. Hanks’ character then gives her this quick motivational speech.
“It’s only a game. I have Bob, I don’t need this. I don’t need this,” she says.
Hanks’ character starts walking away, and then mutters how this is “chickens*it.”
“You want to go back to Oregon and make a hundred babies, great, I’m in no position to tell anyone how to live, but sneaking out like this, quitting, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Baseball is what gets inside you, it’s what lights you up. You can’t deny that,” he adds.
“It just got too hard,” she responds.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.“
“The hard is what makes it great,” instantly grafted onto my brain, especially as applied to writing, something I relate to more than baseball. But then, it did amuse me to Google the quote and 18 other blogs have already written about the quote as applied to writing, so points for originality on my end!
Obviously, it’s a quote that can apply to anything, writing, baseball, whatever your occupation or situation, as it’s more about life in general. Life is hard, and any of the best parts of life worth doing are hard and challenging and scary. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing. Sitting down to write, telling her I love you, taking that job, buying that condo, etc. etc., whatever the example, it’s all hard, and my first instinct is to turn from it. To turtle. To take the, “Yes, I’ll do it,” back. To, as the Dottie is trying to do, sneak away. To quit.
And yet, all of the best things that have come to my life when I ventured out on that ledge after saying, “Yes,” despite being scared of what was to come. That knowledge still doesn’t help when it comes time to venture out on the ledge again, though. That’s the maddening part of it all.
To zoom in on writing, though, I suppose that’s part of why I sometimes get snobbish about, “Everyone being a writer,” the same way I’m sure photographers get a bit peeved about everyone with a smartphone thinking they’re a photographer. If it was easy to be a great writer, then yes, everyone would do it. The fact that a lot of people do do it doesn’t change that it’s hard or that there are still only a few (relatively speaking) people great at it; it’s more a reflection of whether the writing is actually good or not. And even everyone doing it, I’m sure it’s not coming easy to them. I suppose there’s also gradations, too. Plenty of people can be good at X, whether that’s baseball or writing, but only the select few can be great at it. To rise above everyone else. To excel at that elite level.
Writing is hard, and I relate very much to wanting to write and having an idea, but doing everything else but write. The discipline required to do it is immense, and I respect anyone, self-published or not, who has such discipline to do it. Even being good at something hard is an achievement to not be snobbish about (see, I’m arguing against myself now).