Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Be The Right Club, Today!

By Martha Reed

A rare and wonderful thing happened to me on Friday – my short story PASTURES OF HEAVEN was accepted by Mysterical-e for their Summer issue. This was a bit of a surprise; I really like POH, but it is a little odd, not my usual style, and I wasn’t sure it would ever get placed. Which only goes to show that there’s a home for everything if you research the marketplace and keep trying.

When I sat down to my Mac on Friday night and opened my email, I saw the reply from Mysterical-e and found myself performing a new-to-me ritual before I opened the message. It might even have been a little prayer. I paused, my fingers hovering inches over the touchpad and said: “Be the right club, today!” Then I closed my eyes and imagined an acceptance before I opened my eyes to actually read their words. Lucky for me, this time the word was ‘Yes’ and I yelped so loudly I’m sure my neighbors on Fourth Street heard me. The yelp was followed by my version of a boogie dance that should probably remain closed to viewing for reasons of public safety – the vision of me jumping around victorious would probably scar young children.

I also wondered, the more I thought about it, where I pulled the phrase ‘Be the right club, today!’? I remember watching some golf on TV, and I went online to look it up, and there is was: Hal Sutton, 17th hole, The Players Championship 2000. Hal had a one stroke lead on Tiger Woods (imagine that pressure) and when Hal hit a shot and the ball sailed toward the green he commanded: “Be the right club, today!” (emphasis on today, Hal’s from Alabama). Now, I understand completely what Hal was trying to do; it was the same thing I tried to do with my story: he was focusing his will on the outcome to achieve the positive outcome he wanted – and he was focused enough to disregard the many outside factors (including Tiger Woods standing next to him) that he had no control over.

Baseball players are a superstitious lot, too, but this new ritual of mine made me wonder: how about writers? Does anyone out there have a superstition and/or ritual they feel compelled to follow or perform before writing, submitting, or opening that dread reply?

Usually, we plan, and execute, and do our best, and then we sit back to let events take their natural course. But every once in awhile – and is it just during competition? – we try to will a positive end result like it’s some kind of magical thinking. I’ve done it; last Friday was the perfect example. I didn’t want it; I willed it, and on Friday I felt it, and it felt like I was tapping into an energy grid where a positive outcome was already pre-determined in my favor. Was this a gamblers high? Willing that acceptance didn’t feel arbitrary or capricious; it felt powerful and compelling. Has anyone else experience this?

9 comments:

Gina said...

Hmmm. I think I need a "right club" ritual for marketing my writing. I know the concept -- I've used it in bowling -- you know, how after you've thrown the ball, you can kind of influence how it goes down the alley by your body postures? [Well, at least it seems like you can.]

Tory said...

You know that Allstate commercial with the picture a house being in "good hands"? When I'm emailing or mailing an important letter, I imagine it in those hands, winging its way to wherever it's going. Sometimes I imagine the people on the other end receiving it and nodding in positive response.

For me, it's not like I'm creating the outcome. More like acknowledging the outcome is "in God's hands."

Martha Reed said...

Good, good. Last night Jonathan Santlofer talked about burning an 8 day candle that was supposed to bring good luck, and three minutes after it went out his agent called from LA and the Nate Rodriguez character had sold to Keiffer Sutherland.

Hummm, where can I get one of those candles?

Joyce said...

I've done something similar--pray like crazy: "please, please, please, let this be good news." The problem with praying or willing it after the fact is that the e-mail is already there. Even though deep down I know it's not going to magically change, I do it anyway.

martha reed said...

I had this feeling once when I was a kid, too. My Mom took us to Bingo, (I was 10 or 11 years old) and I won something like 12 out of 15 games. The other players were so angry at "that kid" (me) they even made me switch cards - twice - and I kept on winning. I'll never forget that feeling, like I couldn't lose. Forty years later and I can remember it now.

Never had another run of luck like it, and I learned that working for it was more consistent!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I am a golfer and I use that term all the time. Well at least when I hit the ball straight and have it flying at the pin.

I'm liking your alternate use. It certainly fits.

I could have used those words when I opened an email from my publisher on Sunday. The email had a file attached with the name A REASON FOR DYING COVER.pdf.

My first cover of my first book. I wanted it to "be the right club".

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