Monday, February 4, 2013

Sports and Writing

Last night, the sport of American football took center stage. The Super Bowl is the most watched single sporting event here in the States, and many people use the game to get together and throw a big party....only to pay for it the following Monday. I myself am dragging ass pretty bad here.

My Twitter feed and Facebook newsfeed were filled with funny updates and peoples' opinions on the commercials. However, I noticed an interesting trend - nearly half of my fellow writers didn't give a damn about the Super Bowl. In fact, many of them were pissed about the electrical blackout that delayed the game by more than thirty minutes, pushing back the starting time of the CBS crime drama, Sherlock.

Many of you know I grew up in a world of athletics. By college, I focused on two sports: tennis (I was forced to, as playing collegiate tennis paid for school), and martial arts, which I actively practiced into my late 20s.

I know many of my writer buddies don't care for sports, but I think writing and sports have a lot in common!

1) Passion. Writers thrive on passion - their love of telling a great story. It's passion that drags you to the computer when you don't feel like it. It's what makes you write you 1000th query letter, knowing the odds are against you. Without passion, you wouldn't be a writer. Sports is the same way - I remember getting up to work out or practice, despite not feeling like it. Passion is the fuel for excellence in both endeavors.

2) Practice makes perfect. Writers go through writing exercises (like flash fiction) in order to hone their skills.  All writers churn out garbage...and if you don't admit that, then you are delusional! Unfortunately, most of what we write needs fixing. Nothing is perfect. But going through the arduous process of editing and perfecting is part of being a writer. Sports is no different. Athletes spend most of their time practicing. Even with natural abilities, they too must hone their skills. Losing is a part of sports - but it also serves as a valuable learning opportunity. Basketball icon, Michael Jordan, was trusted to make the game winning shot and failed 26 times! A loss is practice for your next victory.

3) Creativity. I will exclude all the copycats out there - and there's a lot in the writing world. But when true creativity blossoms, it can create waves. There are too many examples of this to list, but look at the most recent market-shattering works out there: Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades (yes, 50 Shades). Say what you will about the writing or whatever (which I can easily do with Twilight and what I've read of 50 Shades), but they struck a chord with readers. Creativity can overcome weak writing sometimes. Sports is full of revolutionaries. In my sport of tennis, Jimmy Connors changed the game when he used two hands on his backhand and made the return of serve into a weapon - this is a tactic used to this day. In competition, when all else is equal, it's the one that's creative that usually wins. Sometimes, the lesser opponent can upset the favorite by being creative.

On the surface, it might seem that writing and sports have nothing in common - but they have so many shared attributes. The drama, the passion, the drive...it's all there in both worlds!

* * * *

The cover art for my upcoming novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is done. I'm not ready for any kind of cover reveal yet, as the typography needs to be completed by my publisher. But I will give you a couple little teasers.

Working with a small press is awesome, as I had the opportunity to give the artist A LOT of input. After describing a particular scene that I thought would make for a great cover, I told the artist that I wanted the cover to scream Asian steampunk with a side of KICK ASS.

My novel is not going to change the world, nor give you some piece of infinite wisdom about your life. But it's a fun ride filled with action, drama, and more steampunk action! So here's a fun teaser:

What's steampunk without an airship?

43 comments:

Julie Dao said...

I couldn't care less about football (and am only excited in February for the Puppy Bowl) but your sports analogies are spot on! Completely agree that creativity can sometimes make up for poor writing.

Miranda Hardy said...

I'm laughing because the only time I looked up from my computer last night was to watch the commercials, and I didn't even see them all.

I did, however, go to my parents so my teen son could watch the game. I just took my computer, too.

I played tennis in high school, so I'm thinking you can probably beat me...and I was in martial arts, too. Great minds!!!

Nice teaser!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

This writer digs sports! I did watch the entire game (really came down to the wire, didn't it?) and was smart enough to cut myself off at two beers.
With both sports and writing, a lot of work is involved, and there's no guarantee of a payoff. Ever.
Be happy to do a cover reveal for you when it's ready, Jay!

Jay Noel said...

Julie: PUPPY BOWL! The kiddos love that one too.

Miranda: Everyone I've ever met from S. Florida plays tennis. It's the tennis capital of the US for sure. Great minds!

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I didn't really like either team so I only half-paid attention to it while I wrote blog entries and shopped for car insurance.

Jay Noel said...

Alex: Right, no guarantees at all. And thanks so much! Hopefully it'll be coming soon.

PT: I'm not a big fan of either team as well. The commercials were OK, better than last year.

farawayeyes said...

Don't necessarily follow Football through the year, but the Super Bowl is fun to watch. Last night we 'lost signal' near the end of the 3rd quarter, just when the game was getting good (ah, life in de islands). Personally I was not too impressed with the commercials or the power outage. I mean seriously, this is the SB and somebody couldn't check the breakers and keep a person from plugging in their hair dryer in a restroom. Ha!

Great analogy - sports to writing.

Matthew MacNish said...

Your book sounds awesome, Jay! Can't wait to read it.

Lydia Kang said...

Ooh, love the teaser! I was pissed that Sherlock was pushed back, but watched the SB too. It was a nail biter at the end!

Jay Noel said...

farwaway: I heard people actually had their own power outages right after or before the SB power outage. Weird. The whole time, I started thinking about Bain and Dark Knight Rises....

Matthew: I appreciate it, man!

Lydia: Glad the 49ers made it a game. It's more fun that way.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I love watching sports. I've gotten into Football and you know I like hockey. I'm thinking of doing fantasy football next year.

Jay Noel said...

Hockey is awesome. St. Louis loves their Blues. I do Fantasy Football every year. I've always done 3 different teams: one team is with a bunch of old high school buddies, another is with a group that I also do Fantasy Baseball with every year - I don't know any of these people personally, and I don't remember how I got involved with this group from all over the country! - and I'll join a random Yahoo group just to mess around.

Morgan said...

Totally agree with everything here! Especially the passion concept!!!

And so excited for your ventures, Jay. So neat!!!

Pk Hrezo said...

Cheers to that! That's why I read--for entertainment! And I totally agree with the comparison with sports. We all work hard toward a dream, and after all, it's for entertainment. I've never been a sports fan, but not cuz I don't like sports. I LOVE the Olympics, but commercial football irks me with all the trading and drafting of players.

Jay Noel said...

Morgan: Thanks so much. I'm excited too. A little scared, but mostly excited.

Pk: I love the Olympics too. I got to visit the US Olympic training center in Colorado Springs...it was awesome to talk to a bunch of young Olympians!

Brinda said...

I don't care for sports and didn't watch the SuperBowl. I've also had the crud (officially called that, you know?). I can see the parallels you've drawn here. I will have to watch the commercials. I've heard lots of talk about GoDaddy's.

Brinda said...

I meant to add that I could watch martial arts all day. It's the only exception. Long ago, I earned a 2nd degree black belt in taekwondo.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I've been a Falcons fans for a lot of years now, (and am getting reeeeeally tired of saying, "Wait until next year!") so I had mixed feeling watching the Super Bowl this year. I'm originally from Baltimore, so I should have been rooting for the Ravens, especially since the dastardly 49ers knocked my guys out of the running a couple weeks ago with that killer come-from-behind ass-whupping. But I also knew I'd be in for some serious trash-talking from our niece, a Raven maniac who still lives in B'more, if her Ravens beat the team that beat MY team.

Oh well, it was a great game, and much more enjoyable than the typically one-sided yawner Super Bowls in the past.

Good analogy comparing sports and writing. Come to think of it, the only sport I participate in any more IS writing...



Cherie Reich said...

I love sports (played soccer for nine years) and enjoy watching sports, especially football. And your analogies are fantastic. It's so true that athletes and writers have to go through the same processes to be great in a way.

Can't wait to see your cover!

M. J. Joachim said...

Spot on! Sports and writing do have a lot in common, and your post highlighting some of these is positively accurate. I was bummed my 9ers lost yesterday, but happy it turned out to be a good game finally, where both teams looked liked they showed up at a Super Bowl. For a while there, I was almost embarrassed for the 49ers. In the end, I thought their coach acted like a big baby. So did a lot of people. I laughed and said, "I'm sure glad I don't have to spend the holidays with their family!"

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful post! I didn't have the TV on at all yesterday and I'm fine with that. Can't wait to see your new cover.

Jay Noel said...

Brinda: Yeah, the GoDaddy commercial with the girl and guy making out was gross. And I bet you still could perform many of those moves. The mind forgets, but the body does not!

Susan: I'm glad the 49ers came back. It would have been so boring otherwise.

Cherie: Love soccer! Watching it on TV can be tough, though. Can't wait for the cover's completion.

M.J. Yeah, Jim Harbaugh is a big crybaby.

Christine: You're not alone. Can't wait to unveil it when it's ready!

Emily R. King said...

I'm not a team sports kinda girl. I'm more of a one-teamer. I guess that's another reason writing works for me!

In answer to your comment on my blog, my holidays were good. I'm glad for February. January was LONG month. I hope you're all moved in and you can catch up this month!

Callie Leuck said...

I was reading this in my google reader and suddenly sat up straight and exclaimed "Oh my god! I missed a new episode of Sherlock?!"

I was all over the latest episode of Downton Abbey, though.

Damn and double damn about missing Sherlock.

Riann Colton said...

I'm so not a sporty girl. Once upon a time I was a bendy gymnast but I maintain the theory was because I needed to know how to roll when I fall. Though really don't fall off a skid of books. You just feel really stupid when you're staring up at the ceiling...without a scratch or a broken bone...see? Falling.

Can't wait to see your cover. I did a little squee to know it's almost ready.

Veronica Sicoe said...

Great post, Jay! And I wish your new novel the best of luck in the big wide world.

Jay Noel said...

Emily: I'm the same. Probably why I focused on tennis. Individual sport that relies on nobody else. Glad you had a good holiday.

Callie: Yikes! I'm sure there are ways to catch it.

Riann: Just waiting on edits. It's been 6 months, but I got word it'll be done soon!

Veronica: I appreciate it, as always!

Melanie Schulz said...

I like the comparision you made between writng and sports; I think you're dead on. And I LOVE the cover art.

Jay Noel said...

Thanks so much Melanie!

Sarah Ahiers said...

I just get irritated on Super Bowl Sunday because that's my day to grocery shop and the store is PACKED. Sigh. 1st world problems and all that

Jay Noel said...

Sarah, if you go a little later, you'll find the aisles completely empty. Yeah, 1st World...we got it tough! ;)

The Golden Eagle said...

Wait, was it Sherlock or Elementary? I'd heard of the Elementary episode . . . but if there was a Sherlock broadcast I missed, then DRAT.

Right, back to the actual content of your post. :P I think you make great points; I'd never thought of writers and athletes having that much in common.

I love your cover teaser!

Jay Noel said...

Eagle: You're right. It was Elementary, not Sherlock. Ooops. And thanks...can't wait to reveal a little more in the coming weeks.

DEZMOND said...

we do like steampunk, Jay.
I've never watched SUPER BOWL, since rugby and American football aren't popular in Europe, but we do watch the released TV spots after it over at YouTube :)

Gina Gao said...

I have to be honest: I watch the Super Bowl only for the commercials. But I like basketball very much.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Rusty Webb said...

Good comparison. I think part of the pushback on sports in general, and american football in particular, is due to the people that play it, and it's popularity.

But, football, american style, is the world's greatest LARP experience, full scale battles with that require the greatest athletes, tacticians, planning, equipment, all that, in order to defeat their enemy.

Again, great stuff here.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love your comparison. I did a post like that a while ago because my family is a sports family too.
Can't wait to see that cover and I love working with a small press too.

Jay Noel said...

Dez: I bet you're a big YouTube watcher!

Gina: I watch for the commercials too! Love football, but what's Super Bowl without all of that expensive advertising?

Rusty: Football is really a "safer" way to wage war with rival cities. Other countries have replaced actual battle with sports. Good point, man!

Susan: Thanks so much! And thanks for visiting.

nutschell said...

this is the 2nd post i've read on sports and writing. I am loving the parallels!

Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Jay Noel said...

Nutty: 2nd one? Cool! Great minds...

The Desert Rocks said...

Funny I love writing everything but query letters. Passion? Not when it comes to the query. I missed all the Superbowl commercials visiting my brother but I someone sent me the beer one with the runaway horse. Ahhh.

Cindy said...

Another thing sports has in common with writing is that those who rise to the "pro" level are about 10%. Writers have to work out by writing more. Athletes have to keep practicing and training.

I mainly watch the Superbowl for the half time show. However, I do like baseball.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like sports.

Stop by for a surprise today, Jay.

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