Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Monday, May 19, 2008

Soccer Balls, Spiders, and Life

I have four children ranging in ages from twenty to eight. The two oldest have always gotten along well for a brother and sister. But they have also always been contrary. They like to joke that if I offered them chocolate or dog manure, the second one would choose dog manure just to disagree with the first.

Fortunately our younger two don’t have that whole thing going on yet. But they do have very different personalities. The oldest one (ten) has never been scared of anything that I can remember. No ride at any amusement park scares him. He no problems with heights, close spaces, meeting new people. He just seems to naturally assume the world will treat him well and he treats everyone else that way.

The younger of the two sees everything as a potential danger. He reminds me of the little elephant in Tarzan who says of the lake water, “Looks questionable to me.” My littlest guy thinks everything looks questionable. He doesn’t want to run through the sprinklers for fear a bee might shoot up out of the grass. He regularly checks his bed for spiders. He HATES heights. He still won’t let me teach him to ride a bike, Oddly enough he is okay with most rides, but he worries all the way up to and onto the ride that something might break. The last time I took him on a hike, he wanted to turn back because, “Mother nature doesn’t like me.”

Recently they’ve both started doing sports. I didn’t give them especially athletic genes, so I always approach the sports scene with some trepidation. The older boy has my eye hand coordination, but charges fearlessly into any event. The younger one actually has better motor skills, but is sure he is going to die.

Recently two events occurred. The first happened with the younger boy playing soccer. As always, he would stand back, only kicking the ball if it came right to him. Because of where and how he would stand, he became kind of a designated target for the ball. Within three games he’d been hit in the face, the rear, several times in the stomach, and once in a place which isn’t a problem with girls’ soccer.

I tried to explain to him that if he’d run toward the ball, and get right up on it, he’d be less likely to keep playing the punching bag. Instead, he’d stand back, cowering if the ball came anywhere near him, or even running away. It was a long season.

A few days later, I asked the older of the two to go grab a tarp off the lawn and put it on the deck. He came back and told me there was a spider on the tarp and he thought it might bite him. I explained that if he just grabbed one end and gave it a sharp tug, it would knock the spider off. He did, and it did.

I think of this in relation to writing, but also in relation to life. When I was fifteen, I was always looking for a job. One November I saw an ad for a shopping mall Santa Claus. Of course, being fifteen and weighing maybe 120 pounds at most, I wasn’t such a good candidate. But my mother never let me say no. “At least call them,” she said. “It can’t hurt.” Next thing I knew, I was making twice as much holiday money as any of my friends. The same thing with working as a chef in a French restaurant, and many other jobs that didn’t seem to be a good fit at first.

I’ve met a lot of authors with a lot of different personalities. As I mentioned last week, many of them are pretty shy in person. But one thing they all seem to have in common is a willingness to take the tarp by the corner and give it a yank. They didn’t know whether they would succeed or fail, but at some point they rolled up their sleeves, said, “I’m going to try that and got their hands dirty.”

The people who try new things in life are the people who succeed. Of course they are also the people who fail. But even in failing they learn and progress. You can’t publish a book unless you write it. You can’t write it if you don’t sit down and get to it. And you won’t get to it until you decide you can.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but were afraid of failing, take that pack off of your shoulders and give yourself permission to fail. I have no idea how my new fantasy series will do, but I know it will do better than if I hadn’t ever tried to write it in the first place. You can stand back and get hit in the face with soccer balls and bit by spiders or you can jump into the middle of things and take control.

PS Anon, do you have any soccer advice for me?


At 5/20/2008 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It’s not me oh great schizophrenic soccer dad. They send me the same emails they send you. I got one posing as an editor for a New York publishing outfit, but the address was Nancy at US dot Gov dot CIA. Didn't fool me. Not for a second. She said she recognized my writing style on a blog. Told me they were watching my ISP.

I said, "I don't have an ISP."

She said, "We know."

She said "We recognized your signature hidden in everything you post at the frog blog."

Cursed Nazis!

I said, "My real name is Robinson Wells."

She said, "We're watching him too."

I said, "The author?"

"He told you that?"

"He's a funny guy."

"He gets his material from us."

Cursed turncoat Wells!

I said, "I saw the press club breakfast on Fox News."

"He didn't write any of that. Strictly business jokes and you saw what happened to Mitt."

I said, "He does the lines about hair?"

She said, "Its over for him. Only a matter of time for Wells."

I couldn't take it any longer. I shutdown the laptop and threw out the wireless router.

And another thing Savage: Its not called running toward the ball and getting right up on it. Its closing down or one v one defending. Any soccer dad should know that, right?

For young players like your sons, there are two parts to closing down they should keep in mind.

First, if the dribbler has the ball tight on his foot (what we call close control) then close down the first few yards at full speed, but slow down and get control of your body in the last three or four strides so that a quick touch or movement by the dribbler won't beat you and leave you standing while the dribbler is off down the field.

Second, if the dribbler doesn't keep the ball close, pushes it away from his foot, gets it stuck under his foot, has it bounce up off his foot or generally has any other bad initial touch on the ball, then close down at pretty much full speed since there's no way the dribbler can touch the ball out of your path.

Any other soccer coaching questions I can help you with? From what you've written about your son's soccer experiences, maybe we should go over how to stay out of the way.


At 5/20/2008 1:33 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

That's the problem, great one. I'm not really a soccer dad. I don't even play one on TV. I pay my wife to go if at all possible. And even when I have to go, I'm likely to have a book or a laptop. I'm a failure as a sports dad.

Thanks for the tips though. At least I can sound like a soccer dad now. "Close down! Close down! Now duck!"

At 5/20/2008 2:48 AM, Blogger Weston Elliott said...

Best soccer advice I ever heard? Learn to play golf! That ball doesn't move until you darn well want it to, and then it'a always away from you!

What can I say - I'm the same sort of kid as your youngest. I understand in more ways than I could ever explain - including being unwilling to swim in any water where I cannot clearly see the bottom! That elephant had the right idea.

And you're absolutely right- it most certainly extends to writing as well. I dislike conflict so much that it literally pains me to write battle scenes. But, what good would a fantasy be without a few swinging swords in there somewhere? So I bite the bullet, or blade as the case may be, and suffer through. I keep telling myself it will be worth it someday.

Do you suppose I'm right?

At 5/20/2008 12:47 PM, Blogger Stephanie Humphreys said...

Glad to know I'm not the only soccer parent who comes armed with a book or a laptop.

At 5/20/2008 10:13 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

My youngest son wanted to comment so I am handing the keyboard over to him.


its not true! he is lieing about me lieing! lieing I tell yeah ps i like pokemon it is cool!

At 5/21/2008 1:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Youngest Son:

I know how you feel. He's lying about me too. What's an anonymous guy to do anyway.

And as for your soccer, let your dad take a few hits and see how it feels. Go on, knock a few balls in his direction and see if he ducks any better than the rest of us.

At 5/21/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

There's plenty of other sports he can try. Maybe in the summer you can sign him up for a sports camp and see if anything peaks his interest. How about no-contact sports like track, golfing or gymnastics :)

My son raced BMX, played basketball, and football. Then we "made" him sign up for baseball. Now it's his favorite sport and he's really excelled in it.

I have one daughter that is awesome at soccer and plays on the competition level. The other daughter "likes" it, but her talents lie more in the musical theater arena.

So I'd just keep trying different things and they'll find their niche eventually.

At 5/21/2008 3:23 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

They didn’t know whether they would succeed or fail, but at some point they rolled up their sleeves, said, “I’m going to try that and got their hands dirty.”

And thank goodness those writers had editors!



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