Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Persistence Pays Off — How Writing Compares to Brewers Pitcher Chris Capuano

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Talking about persistence — the refusal to give up and give in — may seem like an odd topic for a writer’s blog.  Especially when compared to Milwaukee Brewers left-handed pitcher Chris Capuano’s personal experiences — that is, if you don’t know anything about Capuano, who came back from a second “Tommy John” ligament replacement surgery on his pitching arm and fought his way up to the major league level earlier this year.

But the two things have more in common than it might appear at first, because we writers need to refuse to give in to the small voice inside us that says, “You’ll never sell another thing.  No one will ever read what you’re writing, so why bother?”  And Chris Capuano needed to say to his small voice, “You know what?  I don’t care how long I’ve been injured.  I don’t care what you, small voice, are saying, because you are wrong  — I’ll make it back to the big leagues, and I will win.”

Tonight Chris Capuano won for the first time in three-plus years.  He did it because he overcame adversity and made his way back to the bigs, and then by refusing to give up on himself as he was only given one start back in June, then placed in the bullpen, seemingly to languish.  But Capuano didn’t take no for an answer — in fact, he seemed pleased to be back in the majors, and was not worried by the length of time his comeback was taking.

We all could learn a great lesson from Chris Capuano.  And that lesson is, persistence pays off.  We just need to keep trying, because if we can just keep working away at our writing, slowly but surely, and trust enough in ourselves to know that it will matter in the end.

Here’s the story of tonight’s win:

And here’s a relevant (albeit lengthy) quote from that article, including some words from the hero of the day, Chris Capuano:

Starting in place of the injured Doug Davis, Capuano (1-1) notched his first win in the big leagues since he beat the Nationals at Miller Park on May 7, 2007. He would spend all of 2008 and 2009 recovering from his second career Tommy John surgery, a grueling elbow procedure from which some pitchers never return.

But there he was in the box score with a “W” next to his name for the first time since Ned Yost was the Brewers’ manager and Monday’s catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, was a Draft hopeful at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Now 31 and married to his college sweetheart, Sarah, who was in the seats Monday night, Capuano allowed three hits over five innings. He struck out four and issued one walk, which led to Pittsburgh’s lone run.

“The winning and losing part of it becomes a lot less important when you’re faced with, ‘Am I going to be able to play again?'” Capuano said. “Going through a time like that, where you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to make it back, it really puts the bad stuff in perspective.

“So, coming into this year, I wasn’t really thinking about [the winless drought]. But tonight, pitching in the game and then coming out [to] watch the rest of the game, I surprised myself how much I was aware of it, how anxious I felt. And how good it felt for the team to get that win.”

We, as writers, need to believe in ourselves.  And remember that no matter how long it takes, the only one who can take you out of the game is you.

Believe in yourself.  Be like Chris Capuano.  And live to write another day.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 20, 2010 at 4:40 am

5 Responses

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  1. My own, personal journey has taken at least six years extra time due to my late husband’s passing. But at this point, the choices are to turn my face to the wall, which dishonors Michael and dishonors me and all the attempts I’ve made to keep myself and my writing alive, or to keep trying.

    I choose to keep trying.

    Mind, I picked this example because Chris Capuano is an excellent pitcher and has taken extraordinary steps to come back from major surgery in order to even be in the big leagues again, much less winning a game as he did this evening. But we ordinary people need extraordinary examples (as Lois McMaster Bujold said in her story “The Mountains of Mourning”); today, Chris Capuano was my extraordinary example.


    July 20, 2010 at 4:50 am

  2. You must be feeling awful Barb. This makes so much sense that there’s nothing for me to add.

    Jefferson Wilson

    July 20, 2010 at 5:31 am

  3. LOL, Jeff.

    I had a migraine today, and Jeff knows it. But I felt so strongly about this I just had to come and write about it. (Maybe my next post will be about how obsessive writers can get when they feel they have a good idea.)


    July 20, 2010 at 5:33 am

  4. Persnickity persistence. It rears its head at the absolute worst of times, don’t it?

    I’m glad to see that you are still going strong in this, despite the recent string of rejection letters. What you should do is save them all, and when Elfy goes big you can frame every single letter to remind you that despite their rejections, you succeeded.


    July 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm

  5. Thanks, Jason. You made my day.

    And for now, the rejection letters are all saved — excepting the two I got via snail-mail. Mom apparently threw one out, but I have the other one — I’m using it for a bookmark. 😉

    As for writing, I think I’ve figured out what’s bugging me about part 43, which is the last completed part of “An Elfy Abroad” (or EA, for short). I have something to fix, there, just as soon as I can get it all to come clear — then I should be able to write three or four parts in a row and get them back out of the Elfy Realm. (Like “Elfy,” the fight scene here is going to be protracted.)

    Oh, yes — I did write a few new sections in “Keisha’s Vow,” so I’m up to about 45,000 words there. (Well over 255,000 in EA. That book’s going to need a really good comprehensive edit one of these years, but I want to finish it, first.)


    July 21, 2010 at 4:13 am

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