Stepping Out of the Batter’s Box

We all have ticks of one form or another. I have one that I’ve done for years, but have become increasingly aware of it lately, perhaps because I’ve had more reason to do it. I call it “stepping out of the batter’s box.”

I’ll be browsing online and come across something involving me, that kind of blows me away. For example, yesterday I learned that my story “The Negative Impact of Climate Change on the Unusual Beasts of the World” was listed on Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2013. When I saw that, my tick kicked in:

I pushed my chair back from my desk, and in one smooth, Clark Kent-like motion, I stood and pulled off my reading glasses, setting them down on the desk. Then, with a grin on my face, I paced a circle around the room, smiled, and then sat back down, put my glasses back on, and returned to what I was doing.

This happens for all kinds of things. I did it a few years back when ThinkGeek retweeted a picture I’d posted. I do it when I get an email from a writer who I still think of as a major leaguer, even though I might know them as a friend. I do it when I get a critique back from a writer-friend that has particularly nice things to say about a story. I do it when I get an acceptance letter, and sometimes, when I get a personal rejection.

I did it just now when I saw Jack McDevitt posted a link to my review of his novel Starhawk on his Facebook fan page. It’s a bizarre little tick, but the more I think about it, the more I realize how frequently I do it.

Baseball fans will recognize at once why I call it “stepping out of the batter’s box.” I imagine to an outsider, it looks very much like when a batter fouls a ball off, or takes a strike, and then steps out of the box, walks in a small circle taking a few breaths and considering what pitch might be coming next; they might adjust their helmet or batting glove; and then they step right back in.

It’s strange, but I seem to have no control over it. I only seem to realize I’m doing it as I am sitting back down to continue whatever I was working on. I don’t think I could stop myself if I tried. Anyone else have strange ticks like that?

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.