My feet have hovered over the basketball court for more than 15 years now.
Not as a player, but as the anxious mum of two sons who fly over and around their opponents, twist into a jump and slam that ball into the net.
Anxious, because I want to see them win.
Anxious, because while I know a loss is character building, I still want to see their hard work on the practice court rewarded in victory.
And anxious, (oh, please ...ramp up the anxiousness here) because I’ve carried an injured son to the hospital for reconstructive surgery on his knee, decades before he should have seen an operating theatre.
Less than a year later, he rejoined his team to play and win the season grand final. He took home the MVP medal and the admiration of his teammates, while I sat on yet another wooden bench and prayed the game would not deliver us back to the Emergency Room.
Like a reader, lost in words about heros and their rivals, I’ve watched basketball matches where the opposition have played dirty. Where their efforts have forced my sons to foul out of the game and send them to the bench to cool off. Elbows on knees. Eyes filled with angry tears and fists holding up a chin which might have trembled, had they let it.
And what I feel for my sons in the those moments, is what I want my reader to feel for my hero and heroine when the story sinks into the pit I dig for them. With just a hint of emotional baggage pieced together from their backstory.
Over the squeak of soles and the thump thump of balls, I’ve listened to parents cheer their kids, offer tips on how to block shots, and yell at them to steal the ball. Most times, the rivalry on the court is palpable. Nudging leads to shoving. The kind of shoving where jabs to ribs ensure balls don’t land in hoops. Where goals aren't reached. Where bruises grow, hidden under jerseys right where someone's heart might beat.
I've watched the hero (either one of my sons) look like he's going to lose something he's strived for all year... and I can't do anything but scream for him to not give up.
I’ve listened to insults get thrown as often as the ball. Most times from the parents. And most times at the poor umpires. Emotion simmers with every tick of the clock and erupts at the sound of the buzzer.
52 Dates for Writers asks me to soak up the drama and rivalry of a two-team sports fixture. To think about how evenly protagonists are matched against antagonists. Are they worthy opponents? Do I include secondary characters as cheerleaders, fans and supporting players? Who contributes to the game the most?
And in the end... Are the fans, the readers, those twisting their toes in anticipation of a win... offered an exhilarating showdown?
I really enjoyed looking at a basketball game as if it were a book in motion. I don't think I'll ever watch my boys play the same way again.
No, I'll be monitoring my responses and remembering I need to throw my reader on the same bench alongside me ~ mother's heart cabooming as fast as the player in the spotlight... about to clinch the game in the final free throw.
Blessings for a wonderful weekend,