Did you see the thrilling World Cup match between Colombia and Uruguay? Or the one between Argentina and Switzerland yesterday? Are you beside yourself to watch Colombia beat Brazil (my prediction) in the quarterfinals? I can barely breathe just thinking about it.
There are personal reasons why I’m cheering for Colombia, even though they do have THE BEST DANCE MOVES. But while we palpitate about the world’s best sporting event in the entire history of the entire human race, let us explore the uncanny parallels between the World Cup and what we’ll call the Writer’s Cup.
We’ve Got Passion
To say that World Cup fans are passionate is ridiculous understatement. To say that World Cup players are passionate takes that same understatement to new depths. Passion is inherent in this sport and everyone who participates in it, directly or indirectly, will experience emotions bordering on mass hysteria. Why else would over 3 billion people take time off work, call in “sick,” miss their own children’s fifth birthday parties (true story!), drive mad distances to be with complete and utter strangers for hours on end, and commit all sorts of insanities just to be able to watch a group of guys kick a ball around a field?
To say that writers are passionate is an equally ridiculous understatement. The writer suffers from a near-biological need to tell stories, to express the depths of his or her soul, to express the ineffable, the unspeakable, the unimaginable, in ways that make all of the aforementioned accessible and relatable to the reader. Who else would get up before dawn and write way past midnight, skip meals, dates, parties, sometimes showers, and other elements of a normal human existence (but never the World Cup) just to fill up pages—pardon me, blank computer screens—with strings of words?
The only difference I see is that not all readers are as passionate as their counterparts in soccer, the fans—and we writers need to work on that. More passion, people! And I’m not talking romance novels.
Yes. Maybe that’s what we writers really need. Imagine you’re out there on that soccer field. Forget the cozy café with the little corner window seat we fight for on a daily basis. We need to write for entire stadium-fulls of people. Whole countries of people. Write as if you were James Rodriguez!
We’ve Got Talent & Training
The same requirements exacted upon the world’s top soccer players are asked of the world’s best writers. You can train all your life and become technically proficient, excellent even. But if you don’t have true talent, that mystical, inherent “gift” that makes you glow from within and makes it all look easy, technique and practice will get you just so far. I reference the world’s great soccer players, from Pelé and Eusébio to Messi and Rodriguez, alongside the world’s great writers, from Hemingway and G.G. Márquez to Munro and Allende.
On the other hand, if you’ve got talent but don’t bother training, practicing, honing your God-given skill to perfection, you won’t be getting on that plane with the World Cup teams or standing up on stage with Alice Munro anytime soon. Even Mozart had to practice, and practice he did, starting at a wee young age.
What are you doing still reading this blog? Get thee to a keyboardery!
All the World’s a Stage
All those hours of training on a soccer field. Rain or shine. Fog or searing sun. Eventually you master your technique, you build up strength and stamina, your focus sharpens, you score that perfect, breath-stopping goal. Or five.
All those hours at the keyboard. Dawn or dusk. In sickness or in health. Eventually you master your voice, you build up experience and insight, your expression sharpens, you write that stunning, heart-stopping novel. Or five.
The stage stretches equally broad for soccer player and writer alike: it’s the entire world. That is your Writer’s Cup.
When are you going to come out and play?
If you can manage to tear yourself away from the TV screen, glue your attention to THIS screen and drop-kick a short piece from a work-in-progress or come up with a new scene. And to have some fun with it, see if you can work a ball game into your post.
And as always, be sure to referee others’ posts.