Tag Archives: proofreader

Writing is like baseball


Writing has been compared to many things: creating great food from a recipe, a long, arduous journey, a trip to the circus.

I once compared it to Family Court – The writing life is like family court only family court was more fun.

My favorite comparison is Vaughn Roycroft’s What building my house taught me about writing. A must read for every writer!

I was struggling with a short story while watching a baseball game (Go Phillies!). And boing! I realized, “Hey, writing is like baseball!”

The writer is the pitcher

Consider the writer as the pitcher – the dude on the mound. But the pitcher is not the only player on the field.

Long fly ball or an infield out

You pitch the ball and the batter hits it. It’s a long fly ball! The center fielder snags the ball, throws it to the cut-off man, the cut-off man throws it to the plate – runner out!

You pitch the ball. The batter hits it. The shortstop snags it, flips it to the second baseman, the second baseman throws to the first baseman. Double play!

You may have pitched the ball, but you weren’t the only player handling it.

Your pitching coach

Do you have a pitching coach – an expert editor? She/he tells you where the ball was dragging, where it was too high, where you lost control.

Your team DSC01384

Is the pitcher the only player on the field? No! The pitcher has eight other guys on the field with him and a load of other players in the dugout.

Think about all the friends and associates who follow your Fan Page, your beta readers, your blog followers, the people who allow you to guest post. These people are your team.

Looking good on the mound

Let’s not forget the uniform guys. The ones who make you look good when you go out on the field. Imagine what a book cover designer can do for you.

GehrigThe Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig played for the Yankees until his stellar career was cut short by ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig played from 1925 to 1939 and made it to the field for 2,130 consecutive games. This streak was considered unbreakable until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Gehrig’s record in 1995. Ripken went on to play 2,632 games.

Moral of the story…writing – and incredible baseball stats – is a long-haul sort of thing.

Don’t be an ass-terisk*

A few players are listed in the baseball record books with an asterisk. Why? They cheated to achieve their monumental goals (remember the writer guy who paid a few thousand people to write awesome reviews for his book?).

Let’s keep it simple – do not cheat.

See you at the Series

No player gets to the World Series by playing just one or two games. You have a long spring training and a long season ahead of you. And sometimes, you might have to wait several seasons to get the recognition you deserve.

So wind up, and keep pitching.

What other activity can you compare to writing?


Filed under Book Cover Design, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

Upsetting the apple cart, with Lindsay McLoughlin

Lindsay McLoughlinI called my daughter an “apple cart!”

Article by Lindsay McLoughlin

My middle daughter was happily playing with her Lego, when her older sister returned from a visit and intervened, disrupting the game – and chaos ensued. This is when I employed the old adage: “You can’t come in here and upset the apple cart!” My oldest daughter then turned to her younger sister and said “Mummy just called you an apple cart!”

Taken literally, I suppose my eldest daughter was right. She had quite cleverly “fielded” the rebuke, much to the amusement of the three of us.

However, what does “to upset the apple cart” mean and where did it come from?

What does it mean?

If you knock over a cart full of apples, you can imagine the disorder and disarray that follows. To upset the apple cart simply means to upset things and cause disorder; it is used when plans are ruined or something has been spoiled. In the case of our family Lego scene, there had been calm before the storm. (Ah… an idea for another post!)

What is the origin? apples 2

There are four schools of thought…

1.         The phrase was first recorded by Jeremy Belknap in The History of New Hampshire 1788: “Adams had almost overset the apple-cart by intruding an amendment of his own fabrication on the morning of the day of ratification” [of the Constitution].

2.         Romans had a similar expression: “Perii, plaustrum perculi” meaning “I am undone; I have upset my cart”.

3.         Wrestlers used it as slang for throwing a man’s body – the apple cart – down. So, “down with his apple cart” meant to throw a man down.

4.         A farmer in the 1800’s brought a cartload of apples to market – all neatly piled and enticingly juicy. Along came a clumsy oaf who knocked over the cart; apples were strewn everywhere, spoiling the farmer’s plan to make a killing at market.

ApplesWhich origin is most likely?

The farmer at market solution has Billy Bunter-style appeal, but it is too “slapstick” and literal. It is unlikely that a longstanding expression originated from a clumsy incident. Part of the magic of proverbs is that their origins are not readily available through a convenient story.

The Roman version holds water, as they certainly used wagons for transport. They ate plenty of fruit, so the apples could have been added to the cart over time. I am not a great fan of wrestling, but some expressions have stemmed from specific activities. These two solutions are feasible, but seem unlikely.

For me, the origin of a proverb usually resonates from a historical perspective and, once explained, makes sense to the reader. If I was a betting girl, I would lay my chips on number 1; the odds are stacked in Jeremy Belknap’s favour. He recorded that Adams “spoiled” the accepted order of things on the morning of the ratification of the Constitution, by introducing a new amendment, thus upsetting the proverbial apple cart. It makes perfect sense.

So, if my instincts are right, Jeremy Belknap’s record of Adams’ intervention, gave rise to an expression that has stood the test of time. It has also travelled; it was used in my very own sitting room in a small UK town, some 225 years later, as a gentle – and amusing – parental rebuke.

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Lindsay McLoughlin (2)Want to know about all my hats? I am mum to 3 brilliant little girls who are full of life and fun; wife to a wonderfully kind and supportive man with the patience of a saint; proofreader/editor/copywriter for all things marketing-related; host parent to foreign students on summer language holidays and full academic years; student advisor to foreign students in other host families; clerk to governors to 3 full governing bodies; landlady to rowers visiting Henley Royal Regatta.

It’s all go at McLoughlin Mansions. I love the pace of my life and the rise and fall of all of these activities according to the time of year. Luckily all of the above do not happen simultaneously!

Connect with Lindsay on her website, on her blog, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn. To guest blog with Lindsay, click here.


Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Words & Vocabulary