It’s that time of year again. Not the Japanese cherry blossom season Michaeline wrote about so poignantly yesterday, but the three-day beauty parade that matches the cream of (American) college football talent with the good, the bad, and the ugly of professional football in the over-hyped, eye-wateringly expensive, insanely risky extravaganza otherwise known as the NFL Draft.
Most of the 8 Ladies are football fans, and well-informed ones at that. I’m nowhere near their level of clued-in, but I’m working on it, and as I was trying to get my head around this weekend’s decision-making and horse-trading, I thought I saw some parallels with the rookie author’s struggle to find their place in the publishing process. Not the obvious one about long odds, either 😉 .
What interests me about the Draft is that teams spend a fortune in time and resources attempting to predict a young player’s likely performance in the NFL. They gather an incredible wealth of detail about anything they can: a player’s size, weight, body shape, speed, flexibility – even the size of his hands or the flexibility of his hips. They interview him, watch him play, check his social media presence, maybe hire private detectives to compile a profile on his private life.
The wonderful thing is that although that information helps the teams to make the best possible decision they can, the unknowns are still greater than the knowns. Nobody can say which of those players will go on to be Hall of Famers and which will sink without trace.
There’s only one way to find out – by playing. Some athletes come into their own when they have to digest a bigger playbook or find their place in a more complex system. Some learn quickly from their coach and more experienced colleagues. Some step up to the heightened physical and psychological challenge of facing the best of the best from more than a decade’s draft picks, occupying every position on the field. Some have the mental strength to soak up the intense pressure, and develop the endurance needed to survive a longer, more punishing season.
I’m taking writerly inspiration from this. Being able to write a great scene is an important and necessary skill, but once we’ve cracked that, we need to be able to write a whole book, and then another one. I’m thrilled that I’ve managed to finish my first book, but my notes from a workshop at RWA National last year said that you can’t tell whether a series has been successful until you have six books out. Six? Can I write six? I think so, but I won’t know until I try. Can I write two or three books a year, so that I keep the story momentum going? Dunno, but I intend to do it or die tryin’. Can I find the expert help I need so that I get better with every book I write, and sooner or later they become good enough to stand next to the authors I admire most? Hmm. Watch this space.
I decided this weekend, that if I manage to get the newbie writer’s equivalent of a high draft pick (an agent and editor deciding to invest in my manuscript), I’ll be thrilled. If not, I’ll stay in the game, back myself and keep playing as hard as I can.
If you’re in need of similar inspiration, I give you this video of Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks of all time (sorry, Michille!) and holder of three Superbowl rings. In the interview he talks about the year 2000, when he sat with his parents and watched six other quarterbacks get drafted before he finally scraped in as the number 199 pick in the sixth round. He gets a little teary at the memory, but it didn’t turn out too badly for him, did it?
How are you feeling this week? Inspired? Confident? Apprehensive? Determined? All of the above?