Soccer As It Applies to Writing

Sitting, freezing with a dead camera battery at a varsity soccer match tonight, I realized a few things about writing that also pertain to soccer (at least at my high school).

* The Crowds
While soccer is a popular sport to play at the high school level, it is not well-attended. At the soccer game I went to, it was all parents or siblings. Unlike football where people will weather 20 degree weather and sleet, nobody shows up for the bad weather during soccer season.
In the same way, writing can be a very lonely profession. Many people don't "get" writing or why you would want to make a career out of it. And when those sleeting days come, it gets even harder. Ever met someone who told you to just "write" when you had writer's block? Ever want to hit them over the head? (They may have a point but that's a different point for a different post.) Writing is spent not in collaboration but in the room with a locked door without anyone - including the cat or dog depending on your level of distraction tolerance.

* The Rules
Just when you think who the call was for in soccer, the ref changes it. Of course, the parents get outraged and the players want to talk back to the refs. There's lots of internal and external yelling.
The publishing world is like that. You think you know all the rules and they go and change them. Two spaces after a period? One? Courier or Times New Roman? E-query or SASE? And that isn't even getting into tenses, point of view or the nitty gritty writing aspects.

* The Exhaustion
High school soccer is two forty minute halves, FIFA World Cup is 60 minute halves. And soccer has very few substitutions leaving the players dead after a game. It's a game of endurance, to say the least.
Writing requires just as much endurance - if not more. But it's a different kind of endurance. You have to have the ability to get through a novel, a short story, a poem - to see it through until the end where it's either a well-edited piece for yourself or a published piece in some form. You have to be able to know that there can be times when you get ahead of yourself and then promptly run out of steam because of overwriting. Like any endurance athlete learns, you have to pace yourself.

* The Yellow (or Red) Cards
A yellow card is kind of like a warning for players. Two yellow cards and they're out. One red card and they're definitely out.
Writing has its own yellow and red cards. Maybe they come in the form of someone trusted saying a piece is unressurectable and you don't listen, ignoring their advice. That's a yellow card. The biggest offense for writers, at least in my opinion? There's two.
1) Sending queries that are badly written or sent to an inappropriate place (or both *cringe).
2) Not staying true to what your writing style is - while always knowing you can improve.

So maybe come this June when the FIFA World Cup comes on in South Africa, you'll see more than just soccer. Maybe you'll see your own little writing world.

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Chris Denny said...

A very interesting metaphor. Very accurate, very true and very scary to think of it in those terms. Now you make me NOT want to write.



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