Saturday, September 29, 2007

Saturday Night Lights

It's finally happened. I've been sucked in by "Saturday Night Lights." My kids are in middle school, and they are playing tackle football for the first time. This is Texas, so that's a big deal. Texans are more than dedicated to sports at every level; they are, quite frankly, insane. Every game, from elementary Pee Wee ball to high school Friday Night Lights is live or die with them. So, I was a little concerned when my kids said they wanted to play ball this year.

They've done well, and are on a good team--3-1 for the season so far. Those first few weeks of practice, though, we had a steep learning curve. The boys wanted to play; they wanted the glory of the win, the camaraderie, the touchdown pass. What they did not want, however, was to practice. Oh, lord, the wailing and gnashing of teeth that went on every time the boys had to suit up and run endurance sprints, or play in a rainstorm, or practice three times a week and once on the weekends. This on top of the regular obligations--school work, orchestra practice, etc. Some days those first few weeks ended in tears and threats--and the boys weren't too well-behaved, either. :-) Someone else's kid quit, deciding that football wasn't for him, and a pall hung over the rest of the team: would they be the next to go?

But, somewhere after the second game, things started clicking. They'd won their first two games, and it felt good. They finally understood what all the hard work and practice was for. They got into a groove with their other obligations, and could come home from school, spend ten minutes relaxing, then hop on their homework, finish, suit up, and be out the door in an hour. Even after their first butt-whoopin' defeat (33-0), they learned to commiserate with one another, then to shake it off because they had to go forward or they'd constantly be looking back, unable to play their best. They sacrificed some of their other pleasures, and even a friend or two along the way because their interests had diverged. However, they enjoyed the fellowship of the field with like-minded kids all striving toward the same goal, and even when they beat out another team, they understood that didn't mean the other team didn't want it as much; it meant our team was both lucky and ready.

Watching tonight's game, with the weather finally starting to cool off, and the field lights on, and us cheering on the team, I realized the parallels with wanting a writing career. It looks so glamorous, and so easy, from the outside. Then we realize somewhere along the way just how hard it is, and how much we don't know, and how much we have to learn. We struggle against the discipline, complain about the hours of practice and sacrifice, and some of us even quit because we realize it isn't for us. But others, others keep on, until that first contest win that validates our struggle, or "good" rejection from an editor, or until an agent recognizes our talent and takes us on, or until that first sale. We enjoy the fellowship of other writers, knowing we're all reaching for the same prize, and sometimes, when we achieve it, we know it isn't because we are necessarily more talented than the others; it's because we wanted it more that day, the right day, when the editor read our manuscript and was in the right mood, and we were both lucky and ready.

Here's to Saturday Night Lights. I get it now.


No comments: