Writing Lessons from a Jock

I got a new book today and I am so excited to devour it! Enter To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while – it’s been the book I think of when I say to myself “I need to read some classics!” Last week while driving home I heard on the radio about Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s first book to be published since this one, written before this came out in 1960, but functioning as this book’s sequel-before-the-first-was-written (technically making To Kill a Mockingbird a prequel, a feat that even George Lucas himself would have trouble topping).

I figured I needed to get cracking, so I found the mass market paperback for five bucks with Amazon Prime (with eleven bucks conveniently in my checking account), and the deal was made.

I’ve been trying (miserably) to read more; I know that if I want to be a good writer it’s important to be a good reader. This idea has been hammered into my head through many a poetry and literature class, but oddly enough it came alive for me by watching sports.

…or rather, by watching sports with my husband. Alex is a sports guru. (We met at a basketball game). He plays or has played golf, soccer, baseball/softball, basketball, track, and tennis. He also succeeds at them all, while I just played my first game of golf (and thus my first legitimate game of any sport) yesterday.

I’m becoming more acclimated to his adrenaline-pumped world, but I still don’t understand how he can play in a softball tournament all day and then come home and (willingly!) watch the Pirates game. By then I personally am exhausted and need to go read poetry. But that’s him, and I love him. (I like to say that our love breaks all stereotypes. The nerd and the jock togethah forevah!)

One reason Alex watches so much sports on TV is to see how the masters do it. They may not always play well or even win, but he can still learn from their technique. He can learn from them by observing what they do, and then taking that with him the next time he plays whatever sport it happens to be. It’s a far cry from the mere goal of entertainment that I initially thought was his sole reason for watching televised sports.

Watching sports for education and not merely entertainment is what sets apart the athlete from the fan. Similarly, reading a book for education and not merely entertainment is what sets apart the writer from the casual reader. I’ve found that for a writer, it’s important not to just absorb a story, but to absorb how the story was crafted, and to take those techniques with me the next time I write.

Isn’t that inspiring? I used to think sports were a necessary evil in the world, but I’m not so sure about that now. Being married changes you I guess 😉

So have you ever read To Kill a Mockingbird? Can you give me a spoiler-free comment on what you think? And when you read (or watch sports), do you do it more for entertainment or to learn?

Happy End of Wednesday folks! Enjoy your week!

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