The Apple Tree & Writing

The idea behind the following metaphor is not new. Other writers have expressed similar ideas. This is, however, how I envision a successful writing process.

Here goes.

Writing is an apple tree full of red, ripe apples. Every apple is an idea. From a distant observation, each fruit looks equally delicious. What a bumper crop! You shall never run out of things to write about.

However, the writer would be wise to show restraint and not impulsively climb the tree to pick every reachable apple, for every reachable apple is not a quality apple. A conniving worm might be eating out the core. It’s impossible to tell at this point.

Good ideas are more apt to come to fruition when accompanied by patience

So what’s a writer to do? Find a comfortable beach chair. Put on a Hawaiian shirt, keep the front unbuttoned, and have a beverage of choice within arm’s reach. Sit in the chair, stretch out your legs and ponder the apples. Patience leads to a little miracle called inspiration.

One by one the rotten apples will begin falling from the branches. Caution: a writer may not want to sit directly under the tree.

Once the rotten fruit has revealed themselves and lay a stinky mess on the ground, what remains is the one true apple, the sweet one, the crisp one, the one you desired all along, only you didn’t know where it was on the tree.

Suddenly, there it is. Redder than the others. Sweeter than the rest, with a hint of sour crispness which will make the plot even that much more unpredictable. Choose that one. The one remaining.

Be patient. Be observant. Allow nature to do the rest.

Then place that apple into your hand and devour it with every bit of strength that you have.



A Baseball Metaphor for Writers

There are certain things you can’t predict in both baseball and writing.

On Monday night, my beloved Pirates were playing the SF Giants in Pittsburgh. The Giants came in as baseball’s hottest team, winning their previous 8 games. The Pirates came in as one of the coldest teams in baseball, losing 17 out of their last 22 games.

To make matters worse for this Bucco fan, the Giants started one of the toughest pitchers in all of baseball, Madison Bumgarner, who has basically been unbeatable for the last two months. His ERA entering the game was around 1.90. The Pirates started Jeff Locke, frequent punching bag for the Bucco fandom, sporting a gaudy 5.90 ERA and getting absolutely shelled in his last two starts.

At all odds, the Giants should have won this game, and it shouldn’t have been close. If there was a person in Las Vegas betting the ranch on the Pirates on Monday, he would have been very foolish. He also would have ended up very rich.

Pirates won 1-0.

The unpredictability of baseball is something that I love. Any team, no matter how terrible, can beat any other team, even if they are being compared to the ’27 Yankees. You have to play the game. You have to get through 9 innings and make 27 outs. And if you do that, if you show up, if you try, if you give it your best shot, you never know what might happen.

And that’s exactly the same with indie authors, and it’s exactly why indie authors shouldn’t ever give up. We play in the big leagues now. Sure, we don’t have the big purse strings as those literary giants in New York. Yes, we might have to ride on the minor league buses and eat at grubby diners rather than heading to a Japanese Kobe Steak House. But if we show up, and play the game, you never know what might happen.

And what’s our game? Writing. Editing. Writing. Planning. Searching for reviewers. Engaging with readers. Offering promotions. And when they don’t work, we try something else. And then something else. And then something else. And when we have been completely blindsided and discouraged by our “losses,” we just show up the next day and write some more.

Because you never know what might happen. You never know when that one influential person will pick up your book and love it. You never know when sales will just take off. You never know when that literary agent will come to your door and knock it down. You never know when your promotion will work beyond expectations or when a certain reviewer will pass your work on to someone else.

You never know. So indie authors, if you are feeling discouraged by a lack of sales or by a bad review, just know that you’re only in the bottom of the second. There’s a whole lot more game ahead, and anything can happen.