I stood in sunshine on the sidelines of our son’s soccer field – the first game of the season – and a mom I had not met yet smiled and thrust her hand toward me. “Hi, I’m M___,” she said. “Thanks for all the email organizing you did for the team last week.” Her glasses glinted in the sun and her eyes were bright and friendly. We stood together with our arms crossed against a chilly March breeze and watched our ten-year-old boys warm up. The sunshine and our boys’ laughter made me feel melty.
“So you’re an author?” she said. My melty body seized. I am? I looked around. Who told her that?
“Uhhhhhh.” I said. And then I remembered my email signature: Andrea Badgley, Author at Butterfly Mind and Andrea Reads America. “Well, author might be too strong a word,” I said. I squirmed. “I write a blog. Well, two blogs.”
I smiled weakly. I don’t usually talk about my blogs except with my writing group and a couple of close friends, and I felt too center-of-attention talking about them on the soccer field sidelines. I shoved my hands in my pockets, then crossed them across my chest again.
“So what do you write about?” M___ asked. Her body faced me and she still smiled. She was truly interested.
“Uhhhhhh.” I said. My mind raced. What do I write about? What do I write about? I could not think of a single thing I write about. A tiny Buddha! I wrote about a tiny Buddha. But what relevance does that have for M___? Writing. I write about writing. My God, how lame! Who cares about writing except writers?
“Uhhhhhh,” I said again. “Well today I wrote about the lunacy of the writing life.” I grimaced. I probably looked like I had gas. None of the parents would want to be my friend after reading that. “And, uh, I wrote about a little Buddha figurine last week.” I saw bewilderment in her eyes. Totally bombing here. “I write about whatever is on my mind, I guess.”
She tilted her head and furrowed her eyebrows. “And do people care about those things?” she asked. “Do people read your blog?” She seemed doubtful. I didn’t blame her after the pitch I gave her.
“Well, yeah,” I said, practically apologizing for what I put readers through. “My blog’s name is Butterfly Mind because I’m kind of all over the place.” I smiled weakly again.
“Oh, I like that,” she said. “Have you seen The Butterfly Effect?”
And then, to my great relief, we were off on another subject.
All week I’ve thought about our encounter, and how that’s not the first time I’ve been caught unprepared when someone asks me in real life what my blog is about. In real life and real-time, I have to answer on the spot instead of being able to chew the tip of my pen and stare off into space while I craft a succinct response. In real life, someone is looking in my eyes, is smiling at me, is genuinely interested in what I’m going to say, and I feel like I always let them down. I decided, No More. I’m going to craft a response now, while I have the leisure to answer in the way that is most comfortable to me: on paper.
I write about motherhood. Books. Hipsters. The writing life. I draw diagrams about the relationship between snow days and parents’ alcohol consumption and am writing a series on difficult subjects we talk to our kids about: sex, souls, charity, the “F” word. I write slices of life from our time in Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, and Spain. Sometimes I’m funny. I call my blog Butterfly Mind because, as you can see, I flit.
I’m going to repeat this aloud while I clean, while I shower; I’m going to practice this until I can rattle it off without thinking. Next time I’m at the soccer field, in the dentist’s chair, at the hair salon, or on the highly unlikely occasion when I’d be in an elevator with an interested stranger, I will have an answer when, in real life, someone asks, “What do you write about?” Next time, I’ll pitch it right.
11 thoughts on “Pitching on the soccer field”
I always dread telling someone I blog. Maybe it’s the word itself. I’m uncomfortable with the sound of it. I also get paralyzed by the criticism (no matter how unintentional): “and do people care about those things?” People do read, though, and I’m happy for all of them even though not everyone gets that (and I don’t describe it well!).
Yes, blog is a funny word, and not in a good way. I feel the same way about telling people I blog – I’m not sure why it makes me feel uncomfortable. Probably because I know the next question is going to be “what do you write about?” 😉 I love your blog, Meredith, and am a regular reader. I love reading about your life as a mom and how it’s both different and the same as my life as a mom. I can relate and also see things from a different point of view. You can tell folks that when they ask.
I hate being put on the spot and even worse I hate that like a day later the perfect response comes to me – I mean how unfair is that not only did I fumble the first conversation then my subconscious rubs salt in the wound by showing me (too late) what I should have said. Very good idea memorising that response – will have to try something similar
I know- I wish I could rewind the clock. I’m ready now! I can tell you what I write about!
Memorizing one’s “pitch,” besides decreasing the opportunities to feel like a horse’s patootie, also sometimes has the delightful side effect of modeling what a Writer Looks LIke beyond the Big Famous Authors. You give others, who may have a glimmer of a writing dream themselves a chance to see that ordinary folks write. That being a writer means: writing. Many folks have said to me, years after I fumbled my own way thru’ a “pitch,” that they were inspired by my willingness to claim my wee bit of writing turf and took up their own pens again. I’m tickled to see your pitch!
That’s an excellent point Les that most writers are ordinary folks, and ordinary folks who want to write can. Thanks for helping me see myself that way instead of as a “horse’s patootie.” 😉
If we writers could think on our feet, we’d be motivational speakers, preachers, or comedians. We are writers because our thoughts come to us in the form of paper and ink, not ephemerally through the air into our mouths.
I understand some people receive both, but I don’t think they are the majority among writers.
Personally, I write a whole heck of a lot better than I speak. And having a pitch in one’s back pocket sounds like a great plan for those on-the-spot moments
I’ve got the first five words memorized, but I think I made the rest overly complicated. May need to revise.
I like your written response! And, to that soccer mom – hell yes, people care about these things; Andrea makes us care with her excellent writing! She makes us look at the little things in our lives with new attention, greater depth. And we are the better for it. Oh, and “we”, we are more than 4,000 people. That’s right, THOUSAND.
You crack me up, Dee. And you’re an AWESOME friend. I hope I didn’t paint M__ as rude, though! She was super sweet and very curious, and she wasn’t being rude at all – her friends and family have been encouraging her to blog and she’s wondered (like so many of us) what would I write about and who would care? I just didn’t have a good answer for her.
I’ve had those thoughtful faces from people from time to time. I think I may need to say a little prepared speech like the one you’ve written … OR … perhaps, just say nothing at all. GOSH … so many decisions for a blog that has just a bunch of mind thoughts I needed to express.
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