Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Impressive Talent Sometimes Demoralizing

Was watching American Idol tonight (oh stop! It's fun and campy and it's the American Dream), and while watching, it's hard not to sympathize for Danny Gokey and Kris Whateverhisnameis. Adam Lambert is one of those once-in-a-lifetime talents who is so far above the others talent-wise, it's not even close. Can't you imagine anyone following Lambert saying, "Oh crap. There's no way I can beat that," before they have to go out and sing? The Fan can relate.

Day after day, the Fan toils away behind the keyboard to write about baseball. Writing is one of the greatest passions in this writer's life. Baseball is too and so the two go together. Before writing each post, a stroll is taken around the Web to look at what is going on. After all, it's not a good idea to write 80 posts a month and not know what is happening out there. The waltz around the Internet always includes a stop at Joe Posnanski's blog. Tonight was no different. After reading two more fabulous posts from the Great Pos, the Fan echoed Gokey and Whateverhisnameis in saying, "Oh crap, there's no way to beat that."

It's not like the Fan was born without a bit of talent. A decade ago, after going back to college in a mid-thirties understanding that slinging wet leather in a tannery sixty hours a week wasn't exactly a life calling, the Fan majored in English and History with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Maine is a big state and a small population (kind of the opposite of a genie's situation). As such, the state, in its wisdom, spread out the university system over several campuses around the state. There are campuses in Portland, Orono, Presque Isle and Fort Kent as well as smaller satellites here and there. Every year, the English professors (not sure if they still do this) send in their students' writing and a panel chooses the best writing in the state. Yup. The Fan was chosen as the University of Maine Writer of the Year.

While that is all well and good and while the Fan has published nine books (it helps to own your own publishing company), when sized up against Joe Posnanski and some other really good writers out there, it's very hard not to feel the "Oh crap" moment. To be sure, it must be the same feeling as when Boise State has to play Michigan in college football. Or any college pitcher who has to pitch against Stephan Strasburg, or any golfer that has to go against Tiger Woods (when he is on) or any forward that has to post up against Lebron James, etc. You get the point.

At least baseball has a 162 game schedule. That means that on any given night, a really bad team can beat a really good team. There really aren't "Oh crap" moments in Major League Baseball because even a guy like Joe Saunders can, for one night, be as good as Greinke. That has to be a lot more comforting than being a writer. There can only be one Shakespeare, or one Joe Posnanski. And while genius is thrilling and amazing. It sure provokes a lot of "Oh crap" moments. Even if this writer wrote 10,000 posts, there would never really be a Joe Saunders moment.


Josh Borenstein said...

I've felt the same way before. Genius can inspire you, but it also humbles you. It's sort of paradoxical. I think the key is to not get too caught up in that. You should aspire to be the best writer that you can be, and don't beat yourself up if you feel you can never measure up to the greats.

Billy the Kid said...

Well, I read this post and thought to myself, "I shouldn't comment because I'm biased". Well, I just decided to say to heck with that. You are one of my favorite writers, and always have been ("unpleasant pheasant anyone?). While you may not be up to the heights of gammons, or olney, etc... You write one heck of a baseball blog. Two of my biggests passions in life are reading and baseball, and you very much make both of them very happy with this blog,

Josh Borenstein said...

Thank you very much, William. That means a lot to me. Really, it does. It goes without saying that I love your blog as well. Reading your posts has become part of my daily routine.