I haven't played tennis since high school. Oh wait, there may have been an ill-fated outing with Paul during our early days of marriage, and now I'm also recalling a painful afternoon attempting to volley with a friend about 15 years ago. But basically, I have never been a tennis player and am not interested in becoming one. However, this weekend I fell in love with tennis.
Wait, I'm going to revise that statement, too. I'm more in love with the determined new sweetheart of American tennis, 17-year old Melanie Oudin than with the actual sport. She is adorable, feisty and a real fighter. The commentators of the two matches I watched over the weekend kept saying that the outcome of the matches depended on who wanted it more. Melanie wanted both wins, she fought for them and she earned them. The gritty expression on her face (photo from the Los Angeles Examiner) tells the story. When asked after the match if she thought she was a role model for younger players. She answered, "I hope so!" Forget about younger tennis players, she's a role model for all of us.
I'm aware that writing isn't technically a competitive sport but many of Melanie's tennis skills are definitely transferable to the solitary act of putting words on paper. Determination, resilience, commitment, consistency, desire, practice and dedicated hard work. There are a lot of parallels. I must confess to a little envy that this young woman has found her passion at such a young age, but I'm still inspired by her. She practices backhands and serves, I work on plotting and sentences. She has quick footwork and agility and I can write strong dialogue without using "said" to indicate attribution. They both seem like significant accomplishments. The primary element absent from the writing process is the roaring, supportive crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. No one is shouting "Good Subplot!" or clapping when I finally find the perfect synonym. Writers have to be their own cheering sections. That's something I have to work on, too.