The writing battle within

Of late, I feel like I’ve been running into an increasing amount of trouble.

As a writer, I don’t always exercise the best judgment. I mean to, but sometimes things backfire. It’s what happens when you tend to write off the cuff; or write with emotion; or write passionately; or don’t always measure what the emotional reaction to your words will be.

That whole sticks-and-stones thing was heavily quoted when I was a kid, and it’s actually true. Words can bruise more than people realize. You see that as a writer, because not everything one writes is met with the soft landing he’d expect. When did I first realize this? Hmm … trying to think. I was definitely taken aback by the whole John Rocker aftermath, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected. Actually, I know when it was. Shortly after the Rocker piece, I wrote a profile of David Wells for Sports Illustrated. Wells didn’t talk to me, because he had some grudge against SI. No biggie—he was polite enough, and certainly didn’t make my life miserable. Anyhow, the lede to the Wells story was about how fat Wells was. I made the point over and over again—his chin is fat, his fingers are fat, his tattoos are fat. The point, though, wasn’t to mock Wells—it was to celebrate his athleticism; to say, yeah, he’s huge … but look how good he is.

Anyhow, I was sitting in the press box in Seattle when I saw a headline on SI.com or ESPN.com: WELLS FURIOUS WITH SI WRITER. I couldn’t believe it. The story was positive. Right! Right? Uh … right? I thought it was. Wells, however, took it differently. I was shocked, and sorta crushed.

Through the years, there’ve been many more experiences. You write one thing, convinced it’ll be taken a certain way. Then, when it isn’t, you’re baffled. You wind up re-evaluating and re-examining who you are. As a writer. As a person. You wonder why this happens to you again and again—then come to the conclusion that this is writing, and part of being, uh, different is taking risks and taking shots and experimenting with words and emotions and feelings.

I can’t write about what, specifically, has me emoting. Only that I’m very down and feel like crying.

It hardly helps that I’m listening to The Mission soundtrack on loop.

7 thoughts on “The writing battle within”

  1. Keith Ryan Cartwright

    “You write one thing, convinced it’ll be taken a certain way.”

    Jeff, don’t think about how we’re going to interpret what you write. Just write.

    Someone might read it after being fired from their job or having had sex. Someone else might be sick or depressed. Another person might be an optimist, while their neighbor, well, isn’t that way at all.

    In other words, just do what you do and do what you think is right.

    Again, just write.

  2. One cannot read people. You can only hope that perhaps they can move on..(Words that I should heed) As someone with a visible handicap (severe scoliosis) I will honor my father, I will listen to my father and I will serve him. I shall be grateful that two years shy of ninety he is still of sound mind. I shall never forget his words of a one time statement “I should have had you institutionalised.” The words still ring in my ears. Yes words can hurt.

  3. I should not have posted the above as this is Jeff Pearlman’s website. Jeff please continue to write as I to shall continue to purchase everything you publish

  4. I recall reading that story as a Blue Jays fan and being a little burned by it. Then I thought, well, Wells ia a fat guy and he still gets guys out, so Pearlman’s made his month.

    About 4 months later I’m in Montreal in a strip club and who is in there but David Wells. And he was a fat guy.

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