The Webbing in the Glove

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I, and I suspect many other writers, feel great annoyance when somebody asks us, “Where do your ideas come from?” That’s because ideas come from everywhere. They come from within. From without. From above, below, and sideways. From the ground we walk and the air we breathe. Sometimes they come solo, sometimes attached to other ideas, which in turn become their own stories. “Where do you get your ideas?” is one of those questions that usually can’t be answered because the answer is amorphous.

A progression of ideas-into-books, however, or the relationship between these books, is more easily traced. Take as an example a book I’m sort of working on, now and then. I may or may not finish it.

But how did I come up with it in the first place? Well, if I hadn’t written She’s on First (my first novel, 1986), I would never have wondered, What’s the true story of women who played baseball? And if I hadn’t asked myself that question and then gone to investigate, I would never have written Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball (1993).

sc004dc527Had I not written Women at Play, I would not have written approximately 30 magazine or newspaper articles about women who play or played baseball. Definitely not: I would have skipped all the articles and gone directly to writing my next book.

Had I not written Women at Play, I would not have had bookshelves and file cabinets full of research notes. Had I not decided to reprint She’s on First on my own, thus experimenting with self-publishing, I would not have had the thought: I wonder if people might benefit from reading my research notes? Which means I wouldn’t have compiled and published Research Notes for Women at Play, Volumes I (2010) and II (2013).

Which means I would never have had the thought: Hey, what about those 30 or so articles? Which means I would never have started the work I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

Yes, I started to put 25 of these articles into book format. And books need titles, and I’m a writer who loves to think about titles. And so, because most of the 25 articles aren’t just about women who played baseball, but also about the men who helped them do so, I came up with the working title, The Webbing in the Glove.

Now, had I not at the same time been working on my first collection of poems, Crossing the Skyway (2013), I might never have thought of leaping from the title of a work in progress to a poem.

But I was.

And I did.

        The Webbing in the Glove

        The strap secures
        the glove to the hand,
        then steps aside
        from contention.

        The stiff male thumb
        defines the outside edge,
        is certain it owns the glove,
        sometimes mistakes itself
        for the entire glove.

        Four female fingers,
        flexible but in accord,
        extend the range
        and reach for
        the future.

        The palm fashions
        the pocket which
        cradles the ball,
        wanting,
        above all,
        cooperation.

Samantha Ostrom, International Earth Stars, 2012 Phoenix Cup, Hong Kong.  Photo courtesy of Carol Sheldon.

Samantha Ostrom, International Earth Stars, 2012 Phoenix Cup, Hong Kong. Photo courtesy of Carol Sheldon.

        But the webbing
        ahh, the webbing —

        the webbing laces opposed
        fingers and thumb
        into a beautiful whole,
        a completeness that
        stops grounders cold,
        swallows popups,
        bags line drives,
        and hauls back
        would-be homers.

        Without the webbing
        the glove is weak.

        Prospects bleak.

Writing and ideas are a lot like baseball. Some ideas hum toward the plate, jump off the bat, and clear the fence. Others are solid singles, and the writer waits on base until something or somebody helps bring the idea home.

3 thoughts on “The Webbing in the Glove

  1. Harrington E. Crissey, Jr. says:

    Dear Barbara,
    That’a very good article and a lovely poem. Thanks for sharing it. It’s been many years since we last saw each other. How are you doing? By the way, Bill Hockenbury is still alive and reasonably well at age 90.
    Sincerely yours,
    Kit Crissey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kit!

      It’s GREAT to hear from you. I remember our days of corresponding about Edith Houghton. Likewise, I remember my telephone interviews with both Bill Hockenbury and Mary Gilroy Hockenbury. Please tell him I say hello and that I haven’t forgotten him. I’m happy, also, to hear that you like this article and the poem.

      Phil and I will be attending the SABR conference in June, mainly because it’s in Chicago. If you’re going to be there, please let me know.

      Best wishes,
      Barbara

      Like

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