Soccer's The Write Stuff
Damn Wall Street Journal!

No, it's not it's political leanings (I also damn The New York Times on a regular basis, and I used to work for "The Good Grey Lady"). No, it's not its owner. No it's not its price.

It was a book review by John Heilpern, published earlier this month, on Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game, edited by Ted Ricards and part of the wonderful Popular Culture and Philosophy series that Open Court publishes. Heilpern wrote a great piece--actually he had me at the opening sentence when he conjured up the classic Monty Python  soccer game between Germany and Greece (Socrates as the Greek team's captain ranks right up there with Socrates--or So-crates--in Bill &Ted's Excellent Adventure!).

 Anyway, forget that I had to buy the book--that goes without saying. No, what really gets me is that I knew the World Cup was coming (there was four years notice).  I knew that great enthusiasm over the World Cup was coming up. I knew that everybody in the world would be trying to capitalize on the World Cup. I knew that writers would be among those trying to capitalize on the World Cup (can you say Franklin Foer's update of his fine How Soccer Explains The World, one of the better examples?). And I knew that once again I'd be a day (four years) late and (many) a dollar short.

And the real shame of it is I could have written a non-fiction book that would have sold thousands upon thousands of copies--maybe millions--of copies. Forget my novels-in-progress--THE ZODIAC DECEPTION and THE HOUDINI KILLER. Novels? I don't need no stinkin' novels! Not considering the money I would have been raking in. Want proof, beyond the (sad) fact that non-fiction outsells fiction.  I don't need to show you no stinkin' proof, but I will.

My book would be directed at the writing market. Writing books are (fools?) gold. Would-Be Writers (every third person in any room and grow) buy any writing book that comes out in hopes that it contains a clue to The Philosopher's Stone. Established writers (secretly) buy any writing book that comes out just in case it contains a clue to The Philosophers Stone, which would then allow some Would-Be Writer to dislodge them from the Pantheon. That's a load of writers, so I think you get the picture.

I'd give the book a real catchy title like, How Soccer Explains Writing (Sorry, Franklin) or ---- My Soccer Book On Writing Says or Soccer Soccer Bang Bang Write Write or maybe Change Your Soccer Style, Change Your Book. Catchy is the key.

Then I'd explain the connections between soccer and writing. Want a "for instance"? OK, for instance:
  • you've finished your manuscript and  you put it (or at least a few chapters) out there in the world (the ball is on the soccer field)
  • where agents kick it around (the manuscript circulates among agents)
  • and sometimes the ball gets close enough to the goal for a good shot thanks to a midfielder (perhaps some one puts in a good word for you),
  • but your work is returned with suggestions (defenders kick it away),
  • which you make and send back (you're the striker now),
  • however the goalkeeper saves the shot (rejection, despite a brilliant effort),
  • so you keep trying (your work gets kicked around some more)
  • until you finally score (an agent takes you on)
  • or you get so exhausted you take yourself out of the game (quitting)
  • getting some rest and gathering strength so you can go back on the field (rising above it all)
  • and start all over again (dogged determination).
This, of course, is a very short and simplified abstract from the many brilliant ideas that the book would have contained (obviously you can easily substitute "editor" for "agent"), but I don't want to disclose too much. After all, there'll be another World Cup in four years and this time I intend to be ready.

Therefore I'm alerting my editor, Jim Frenkel, and my agents, June Clark and Peter Rubie: a slight change in plans, starting right now. We're heading in a new direction so stick that in your vuvuzela and blow it because I have only one thing to say:


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