Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Confessions of a Soccer Mom

I love soccer. LOVE it.

And I love my son. Even more than soccer.

So you'd think that watching him play his soccer game would be like eating ice cream AND a brownie. Right?

So here's my confession: It's not. It's actually painful to watch. Painful, I tell you!

Now before you lynch me, it's not my kid. I really do like watching him learn to play the game. Rather, it's the game as played by seven-year-olds that hurts. Perhaps it's because I played competitive soccer. But perhaps it's just painful no matter who you are. And the funny thing is, it reminds me of reading through one of my first drafts. Here's why:

1. The players don't work together. Any given player will take out his own player to get the ball.
  • In my first draft, my chapters don't work together. The beginning lacks the build-up to the end, and the end just plain ignores what happened in the beginning to go its own direction. I won't even mention the plodding middle.
2. The poor players trip oven their own feet. Often. (It might have something to do with their shoe-tying abilities, but I can't be sure.)
  • Do I really need to mention the bad (stink-worthy, putrid, horrible, awkward to add a few adjectives) writing? Ack. Painful to read. And I'm supposed to make this seem effortless? Yikes!
3. The players forget which direction they're going. And that's usually the fortuituous moment that their aim is accurate.
  • Have you ever accidentally changed a character's name midway through a draft? Or suddenly your mc has black hair instead of blond? No? Me neither.
4. Lack of coordination. Sure it's funny to watch Charlie Brown put all his force into kicking that football only to have it pulled away by Lucy, but it's more cringe-worthy when you know the kid. And yes, they really do land on their backs after kicking air. Ouch.
  •  In that first draft, it's like I've forgotten all the rules of writing. Setting comes in chunks that feel like Aunt Bertha's famous stone pudding in your gut. Backstory takes the real story hostage, and adverbs go on a rampage. Dialogue feels like talking heads who portrary stiff characters who all sound like the same person. You get the idea.
5. By the second half, the players are T-I-R-E-D. The ball could be right in front of them, but they're too tired to move their foot. As a spectator, it was hard to restrain myself from running onto the field to kick the ball myself, just to get the thing moving!
  • And back to the ending. It might be a tad rushed because I was T-I-R-E-D of writing the dang book. But why can't Prince Charming just kill the bad guy with one quick plunge of his sword instead of orchestrating a whole fight scene? Economy of words, right?


Stina said...

I loved this, Janet. I used to coach my kids' soccer teams when they were much younger. I'm sure if I think hard enough, I could come up with an analogy about the parents who were too busy socializing to notice their kids were bullying the other team. ;)

I can definitely relate to most of the first draft horrors.

Talli Roland said...

I love how you related all that back to writing! Oh, the horror of writing when tired. I'm the queen of rushed writing.

Joanne said...

Oh this was so entertaining to read, probably because I saw myself in so much of it :/ Except in that hair change color part ... Me? Never!

Melissa Sarno said...

This is hilarious! And true. Hilarious because it's true. Great post, Janet! And, no, I've never changed any character's name or the color of their hair midway through a manuscript. Never. ;-)

R. Garrett Wilson said...

Hmmm. The other commenters are in an aggressive state of denial about number 3, changing a character's name. Should I confess or play along????

I've never changed a name either. Nope, not me.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I love this post, Janet! What great comparisons. So funny and so true. Sometimes after a frustrating session of writing (usually a first draft) I feel like I've kicked air and landed on my back. : )

Theresa Milstein said...

Watching young soccer players play is painful. When my younger sister was 5, I watched her and her team kick air instead of the ball and run the wrong way to score a goal for the opposing team.

In Cambridge, they made the game a pretty positive experience for the little ones: half field, no calling out specific children's names, clapping for both teams. By the time their skills improved, it was a regular game that was less painful to watch. Mostly.

Patti said...

Being a big soccer fan myself, I loved this analogy. And I know all about watching kids play sports. It's been painful at times.

Beth said...

I've watched enough kids' soccer games in my life to know this is completely true. Wonderful analogy!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I'm new to your blog, but enjoyed reading your bost. Even though I've never played soccer, I thought your comparisons were marvellous. And, yes, I do know the feeling of getting tired of a WIP and still trudging on with the ending.