Dribbling the pen

I moonlight as an author. Why? Because that’s the kind of athlete I am.

According to some of the latest scientific research, a pro writer’s brain throwing down a clever phrase reacts much the same as that of a pro basketball player throwing down a reverse slam.

I wanted to be a pro basketball player. So far, I’ve been bypassed in the NBA draft for 36 straight years.

But now, thanks to science, I’ve discovered that I’m already an athlete. I think my high school owes me a letterman’s jacket.

This study from the University of Greifswald in Germany studied the inner workings of the brains of professionally trained writers. They found that popping down appropriate apostrophes compares to nailing three-pointers from the corner; that pounding a proper pun takes the same mental flexibility as booting a punt to the one-yard line; that smashing unnecessary adverbs matches knocking homers out of the park.

Plus, it’s all easier on the knees.

This is why Superman disguised himself as newspaper reporter Clark Kent. Just because you use pencils doesn’t make you a pencil-necked geek. We writers are tough, baby!

A lot of people (writers) are celebrating the study as an advance in understanding the gymnastics of writing and creativity. Others (probably boxers and wrestlers) think it’s a nutso theory that shows nothing about how literary inspiration works.

Actually, most days, literary inspiration doesn’t work. You have to chase down inspiration, tackle it, wrestle it into submission, and squeeze every power verb and mood-conveying descriptor that you can.

And we do because writing is the greatest sport there is for my kind – kids who tripped over their own feet trying to play the other kinds of sports.

We authors are the gym rats of the laptops or legal pads. We keep shooting, shooting, shooting until our words stop clanging off the rim and start swishing the bottom of the net.

And then we hit the showers. No, not really. I’m just joking about that. But maybe some of us should once in a while.

So how can you, too, become a world-class athlete with a pen in your hand? Let’s run some wind sprints of quotes from famous authors:

”Writers fish for the right words like fishermen fish for, um, whatever those aquatic creatures with fins and gills are called.” – Jarod Kintz

”There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” – Somerset Maugham.

”It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.” – Robert Benchley

”I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” – Peter De Vries

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” – Stephen Wright

OK, phew, take a break. We need our strength for diagramming sentences. Because writing isn’t for sissies.

—- Cole’s latest novel, ”Bash and the Chicken Coop Caper” (from B&H Kids) is playing in bookstore arenas across the country. Contact the musclehead at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.