My first book, How to Snag Major League Baseballs
, was published in 1999, but I wrote it in 1997. At that point in my life, I’d only visited seven major league stadiums, and it showed. The book had dozens of references to Shea and Yankee Stadium, but I hardly mentioned any other places. Now that I’m working on a new (and vastly improved) version of that book…and now that I’ve been to 46 different major league stadiums…I’m trying to mention as many of them as possible — at least the current ones. Here’s how I’m keeping track. It’s a screen shot of a list I created, which I refer to and update constantly:
Each dot, as you probably figured, represents one mention in the book. So, for example, if I need to name a stadium where the right field stands are too steep, I’ll know not to mention Great American Ball Park or Citi Field, and I’ll talk about PNC Park instead. It’s a good system, I think. The biggest challenge in writing this book has been organizing everything — establishing a logical outline and then making the necessary adjustments. It might not sound hard, and when you finally read this book next year, it’ll all (hopefully) flow brilliantly, so just take my word for it: writing this thing has been a major struggle.
The good news is that I’ve really gotten focused lately. I don’t know what happened. Something inside my brain just clicked, and now I’m churning it out. Normally, if I can write 250 words in a single day, I’m satisfied (if not downright thrilled). That’s about one double-spaced page, and again, that might not sound like anything special, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I can write a 250-word email in three minutes, but when I’m trying to crank out a polished piece of book-worthy prose, it’s completely different. And draining. A few months ago, I spent eight hours working on a single paragraph. (And what a good paragraph it turned out to be. It was the opening of a very important section, so it had to be just right, and I wasn’t willing to move on until I felt I’d nailed it.) Yesterday alone, I wrote more than 1,600 words for my “Batting Practice” chapter. I wrote the final paragraph for a section about snagging ground balls, and then I wrote my entire “Glove Trick” section. I was up ’til 5:30am working on it. I slept until 1:05pm this afternoon. No alarm clock. Nothing else on my mind. It’s just me against the book. And now I need to get back to it…