December 28, 2010

A Ham-and-Egger

Today, I was going to point out my friend Jenny Shank's great column in this month's Poets & Writers.  Unfortunately, it's only in the print issue and not online, so you'll have to seek it out in hard copy. It's well worth it, though.

I love her point about being a ham-and-egger writer ~ not one of the lauded greats, but as good as you can be.  I think it's a healthy attitude to take, and I would imagine some who are considered great continue to see flaws in their work and also think of themselves as ham-and-eggers.  It's part of the motivation to write ~ to get better, to try to realize the vision you had for the work in your mind but that's never achieved.

I also love her point about the baseball player Tommy Hottovy, the left-handed pitcher:
Tommy's task is harder than mine.  There are more published novelists in the country than there are major-league baseball players, who number 750 at any given moment in the season.  And your chances of publishing a novel don't depend on whether Don DeLillo or Lorrie Moore breaks an arm that season. I toil on projects that don't work out, but my rejectionas and failures are private. While Tommy struggled and rehabbed, every armchair manager in Red Sox Nation with a blog wrote about how old he's getting (he's twenty-eight).  I couldn't take that.  I could only imagine reading on some blog while I worked on my novel: "How old's Shank?  Thirty-three?  And she's got two kids?  She's never going to make it.  Stick a fork in her."
Now that's some great and insightful ~ not to mention entertaining ~ writing.  Thanks Jenny!

Questions of the Day:  Are you a ham-and-egger?


David Abrams said...

I agree with you about Jenny's essay. It's a winner! Full of great insights and is very appropriate to that particular issue of P&W: The Inspiration Issue.

Jenny Shank said...

Thanks Tamara and David! I feel really lucky that Poets & Writers published that essay. And it was a lot of fun to write.