I’m feeling like I’m in the middle of a desert at the moment. Inspiration for both blog and haibun is thin on the ground and just as I wrote some new haibun, I stopped thinking of subjects for blog posts. You may have noticed.
The old Field of Dreams approach to ideas (if you write it, they will come) has let me down recently. I know that ideas are supposed to flow more freely as you have them, and that there is an infinite supply of ideas out there, but every so often, it stops. My notebooks tell the story – dozens of two line entries, scribbled out. This is the internal editor in full swing.
It’s probably confidence. When you are being published on a regular basis you relax and write things knowing that you can go back to them. When you hit a slump you get less relaxed and start becoming more critical. That’s what happened with the haibun. In the case of the blog I merely sit here staring at a screen and think “2,000 posts, what can I possible write that’s new?” I can’r even add photos because the system tends to freeze when I try, and even when they load I can’t see them. I know that I’m loading the photos for others to see, but it’s still hard to stay motivated if I can’t see them myself.
Domestic life is not offering much of interest (at the back of my mind there’s a light flashing on and off warning me that the wedding anniversary is coming up and I have nothing planned, but that is, to be fair, not unusual). We have been married over 11,000 days and I’m not sure I make every one of them a joy for Julia. Corona virus is an old subject, work is just work and little is happening there which hasn’t happened before.
Two of those things may be linked – corona virus is stopping us doing a lot of things, and a trip to Derbyshire for tea, cake and jewellery would solve the wedding anniversary problem, it’s just that we shouldn’t really be travelling.
Deep down, I come to a question. What do I write for? I’d be interested in the answers of other people on that, just to see how many reasons there are.
I write because I’m addicted. Deep down, I just can’t stop. In my teens I wanted to write as a career, to earn money and to attend literary lunches. I’m still not clear what a literary lunch is, but I knew that writers went to them.
Writing come and goes in my life. At one time I had so much on with two kids participating in sports that I didn’t have time for much writing, apart from endless match reports. That started when I volunteered to do the match reports for the Under 12s. They went well. Nobody noticed my grip of rugby wasn’t all it could be, and everybody liked seeing their kid get their name in print. Then the Under 10s asked if I would do their reports too, as the parent doing them was writing five line reports which mentioned his kid three times and his kids’s best mate twice and did little for team unity. My reports, even when I wasn’t there to watch, were regarded as more accurate than his.
Here, in case you ever need it, is my template for a junior match report.
- Start with “Fixtures between Nottingham and X are traditionally hard fought/one-sided/a waste of my Sunday morning” (you may want to gloss that one up a little).
- Move on to “Things started briskly/slowly, with both teams testing the opposition.”
- Add “from the set piece”, “turnover ball”, “against the head”, “blindside” and “effort” in varying proportions.
- Use the words “cynical” and “lucky” in relation to the opposition. Your team are “well-drilled” and “reap the rewards of hard work in training”.
- Mention every child by name. Yes, it’s difficult. Only five of them are any good, with ten average players making up the numbers. You will also have several players who are there because their dad insists, one or two who are there because this is the only sport for fat kids and one who is so uncoordinated he has trouble walking in a straight line. Two mentions if they were really good, three only if they score a hat-trick. You need a full squad, and it’s mainly about effort and being with your mates. They all turn up, they all freeze, they all deserve a mention.
- Do not criticise the referee, the opposition, the opposition parents, the parents of the referee, or anyone else. The report, amongst other things, is about building character and manners.
- Thank the referee whenever possible. If he has been so bad it might seem sarcastic to thank him, you may omit this step. Very few referees step onto the pitch intending to be bad, and they are giving up their free time so that junior sport can go ahead. I say “few” as several parents and coaches ref matches with the sole intention of cheating their way to victory. I saw three of these in ten years, so they are very rare. See Point 6.
- Stress team work, praise effort, point out the successful coaching points, thank the parents, thank the catering.
- Feel free to quote sporting memoirs and poetry. This is particularly true when you want to add something uplifting after a heavy defeat in freezing mud. In general, Kipling and the Victorians did some good quotes. It’s best to avoid poems that feature words like Devizes and Nantucket as they encourage unfortunate rhymes. They are all very well in the clubhouse on a Saturday night, but not in a junior match report.
- Add a selection of stats at the bottom of the page, including the names again, and remind them about training times, the next match, subscriptions and anything else they like to ignore, like when it’s your turn to run the kitchen or the car parking. Parents have busy lives and tend to forget that sort of stuff.
That, I think, completes the post. It grew out of a random word and I am going to have to write a second part to finish it off. Sorry if it wandered off subject a bit.