Wednesday, 30 May 2012


If you hadn't guessed yet, for me, writing and tennis have a lot in common. What I learn at the computer many times translates to my "work" on the court and vice versa. Many times these 'lessons' are so simplistic, they might seem obvious to the outside observer, but to me they are like Messages From On High. So, what I learned the other day is this:
The ball is the boss.
My instructor noticed I seemed to be using the slice and the topspin groundstroke randomly, with no relation to how the ball was coming to me. This was true. Many times, I'd decide, before my opponent even returned the ball, that I was going to use a particular shot. If you're a seasoned tennis player, however, you see the fault in this - you have to wait and see where and how the ball is coming to you to determine how you should hit it. So my instructor gave me this simple rule: if the ball is rising, hit a slice. If it is dropping, hit a topspin.
This translates to: The Ball is the Boss. Wait and see what the ball is doing and then react accordingly.
It also translates to Get Out of Your Own Head, Stupid!
In writing, this rule is: The Character is The Boss.
No matter how I want a certain thing to happen in my story or how well I plot out the story ahead of time, the character is the boss. If I stay in the character's head (not in my own) I will write a truer story. My character will lead me to what would actually happen, not what I as the author think "should" happen.
It's about being flexible, not getting ahead of things or forcing things, letting the plot or the shot work out organically.
It's about shutting off your brain, trusting your instincts and letting go.
Now I'm off to try to put that into practice....

Friday, 13 April 2012

Zone in Progress

A while ago, a friend encouraged me to start blogging again, and so here I (finally) am. I'm still writing (3/4 through a new YA historical novel), still playing tennis, still struggling with PLOT and still struggling (a bit) with my forehand groundstroke. However! This does not mean progress has not been made!

In my tennis game, I have learned a few new advanced shots - the forehand and backhand slice - which have come fairly easily, for some odd reason. I've learned more game strategies. I've learned to make educated guesses as to my opponents next shot. My tennis has definitely improved.

On the writing side, I've developed a nice record-keeping strategy, which keeps me focused and motivated. I've written close to 350 pages - over half of which will never be seen by anyone other than my dog (trust me, it's better that way). I count those pages as an accomplishment, however, because they were the necessary work to get to where I am in my story today. Those pages are akin to my hitting the tennis ball against the wall in the church parking lot. They were needed practice, and my writing has benefited from them.

But with all this progress, I am still freezing up on my forehand and many days my writing is painfully slow. Why?
Unfortunately, I have the same, old brain.
The impatient brain that wants to be great RIGHT NOW.
The brain that critiques each shot, each sentence.
The brain that doesn't trust my abilities, and that worries about making mistakes.

I have had many tennis sessions working exclusively on my forehand. With time, I always get into
a groove and I have it! No worries!
I have also had writing sessions - using a pen and paper - where the story and voices are coming so fast, it's like I'm a court reporter, barely keeping up with the action. In both these cases, I am what my tennis instructor calls 'in the zone.' I am not listening to any inner critic, I am only focusing on the action in front of me. Though 3 1/2 months have passed since New Year's, I am making my resolution now:
Go for the zone, and leave my critic in the car.

How do you get in your zone?

Next post: Making Procrastination Work for You

Friday, 6 May 2011

Get on the Bus!

So, I'm going on tour.
Well, kind of.
A skype tour!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Just for fun

My son's a music guy and my older daughter has a knack for finding really cool, interesting music.
I'm not sure which one of them discovered this song - it's catchy in a wacky, offbeat way.
And the video is classic story telling.


p.s. Watch the little girl's face after the man pays for the flowers;)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Never Too Late

Let me start this post by pointing out today's date (July 5) and the date I am supposed to post (July 3).
Thus begins my message.
Since the beginning of summer, I have been having dreams with a theme:
Trying to get back home despite impossible odds.
The setting is always different: we are on vacation, we have moved away and are moving back, we are in an airport, we are in a hotel, we are in a rented flat. But the problem is always the same: too much to do and not enough time to do it - I haven't started packing, I've lost the room key, I have only minutes before our flight and all my kids are still off saying good bye to friends or at the pool or wandering around, not rushing in the least. Even in the dream, I know I will never make it.
But I still try, panicked and discombobulated, not knowing what to do first.
I've had enough of these dreams to get me seriously curious. So I googled Dream Interpretations and found a dream dictionary at They had this to say under the heading of 'home:'

...To dream that you cannot find your way home, indicates that you have lost faith and belief in yourself. It may also signify a major transition in your life...
And they said this about 'late:'. ...You may feel unready, unworthy, or unsupported in your current circumstances. Additionally, you may be overwhelmed or conflicted with decisions about your future. Time is running out and you no longer have time to accomplish all the things you want. Alternatively, being late in your dream could be telling you that it is better late than never.

Now, in an effort to show my father that all the cash he spent on my college Psych degree wasn't in vain, I will now attempt to interpret my dream:
Because my four kids and teacher hubby are all home for the summer, and because I usually have the house to myself while they're all at school, and because I am trying to revise a novel by the end of July and because summertime family life is not conducive to that, I am feeling overwhelmed, doubting (lost faith) that I will get the job done, time is running out. I am trying to get back to that familiar, homey, secure writing schedule to help me accomplish all that I want.
Whaddya think?
Maybe a lot of hogwash, I dunno. But thinking this through has reminded me yet again that this busy, crazy time of our lives will be gone some day and at that point I will have more time and quiet than I will know what to do with. So, as you all as my witnesses, I renew my pledge to embrace these crazy summer days and every single wonderful interruption that comes with them.

Wishing you peace in your own crazy days of summer,

Bev Patt

(photo credit goes to my daughter, who took this silly picture of my son, on the Cliffs of Dover;)

Monday, 10 May 2010

When It Clicks - More Writing lessons from the tennis court

Sports News - May 08, 2010
It has been a long and frustrating winter for me, tennis-wise. Which is probably why I've written so many posts related to tennis. Blog therapy. My frustration has centered around the most basic shot - the forehand ground stroke. In an effort to improve, I rented ball machines and had lessons and even hit by myself against a wall, for hours. Most times, it felt like I was getting better. Yet each time I'd go back onto the court, I was back to hitting them all over the place with no control. Humiliating!
Then recently, I was at my son's soccer game, which happened to be next to a tennis court. During breaks in the game, I'd gaze over at the courts and watch the tennis players, specifically their forehands. I noticed how they looped their rackets around behind them and came through the ball in one even motion - a technique I had never tried. Would that work for me?
Long story short - yes. It did. It worked very, very well.
"What a sucker!" you say? "All those hours of hitting by yourself wasted!"
But I say, "No!" and "Please don't call me a sucker."
Because those hours I spent were actually building muscle memory on the other parts of that shot - the footwork, the timing, the follow through, etc. So that when I finally added the 'loop,' it tied everything all together and 'clicked.'
In the same way, writers write a bunch of stuff that isn't working. But they keep writing. And writing. They may take a class. Or have their piece critiqued. And they write some more.
And then one day, they're going to look at what they've written and suddenly, all those separate pieces are going to click into a meaningful whole. A whole they couldn't have arrived at any other way.

So, keep writing. It's the only way you're going to stay in the game.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Raising the Bar

The students and staff at East Leyden High School have set the bar so high for school visits, I can't imagine anyone topping them! Here are a few examples of the enthusiasm and warm welcome:
Not only had many students ordered books on their own, they also had quite a few in their library!

I signed just about anything and everything.

They had a display case with pictures and info from my website in their hallway...

And students in the Foods classes made me personalized book and house shaped cookies, representing my novel HAVEN, then wrapped it up in this fabulous gift basket!
Now really, does it get better than this?
I think not.