(With apologies to my daughter, who hates this time a year when everything becomes a football metaphor.)
Last Friday we attended a huge high school football game. Huge because our team has had an almost perfect season and we were playing a team who’d celebrated 46 straight wins. (Sadly, now 47) The announcer for our school is a character. He’s known for creating unique ways to describe the action on the field. He’s fond of the “hashtag, give them six” or “hashtag, that’s gotta hurt.” Who cares if he sometimes accidentally says that it’s the fifth down? He’s fun!
Not long into the game one of the players from the opposing team took the ball from his quarterback and began to sprint up the field toward the goal line. He was making pretty good progress…until he tripped over his own feet. He went down with immense grace, mind you. But, it’s hard to gloss over the fact that the boy just stumbled over himself without any help from the defensive players.
Our announcer’s response? “[Player’s name], downed by self-tacklization!”
I’ve adopted that as my new catchphrase.
As writers, we have a lot of “defensive players” that stand in the way of us making it to the goal line. We have critics, deadlines, competition, day jobs, other commitments, etc… Sometimes it seems to me that I’m a pee-wee running back playing against the defensive line of the Seattle Seahawks! (Which research tells me is the best defensive line at the moment.) The odds of producing a published work seem that daunting and insurmountable at times.
We may not be able to eliminate the defense entirely, but with practice, training, persistence, (and maybe a good coach) we can get learn to get around them. A lot of us have great cheerleaders who help us along the way too.
I think, though, one of the worst obstacles we can face is what that poor running back faced Friday night. I’ve found myself tripping over my own two feet far too often. I realize that every time I doubt myself and the ability to produce a publishable work is self-tacklization. Every time I second (and third and fourth) guess a scene before I even finish writing it, its self-tacklization.
The running back recovered from his embarrassing moment and went on to carry the ball successfully all night. That’s my goal – to get out of my own way and carry this ball across the goal line.
“Hashtag, her book is published!”