Hey, readers. I’m still cleaning out that drawer in my writing room and forcing myself to throw away the papers that have accumulated there over the years. It’s hard for me to do. Every page brings back some memory of a project begun and abandoned. Some of them, it still seems, have some potential.
CS Lewis advises writers never to throw anything away – that most of his successful books spent years in dark drawers before he dusted them off and finalized them. But I simply have to clean up and make some room here.
So, before this one goes in the trash, here it is for your perusal. This is a chapter I wrote for my recently-published novel, Overtime: A Basketball Parable. The story is told in the first person by a small-town, high-school basketball coach who has died and in the afterlife is given another chance to consider the effects he had on his players over the years. It’s got a little bit of Field of Dreams in it and a little bit of the Divine Comedy and a little bit of Groundhog Day. I did not include this chapter in the book and I can’t remember why.
I hope you’ll like it. If you played high-school sports, you should recognize some of the dynamics in this story. If you really like it, you can find the finished book on amazon.com.
I was a man who believed in discipline. No nonsense and hard work. That won ballgames. But it is impossible to ignore the emotional element of basketball. It is played in close quarters and in that season when everyone and every emotion is most pent up.
Even things that the school sanctions – the cheerleaders, the flashy uniforms, the music, the speed and altitude and violence of the game itself, the ball in perfect arching flight, the little gyms humid with something near rage – all of that adds up and hints at what the kids are hungry for, but they don’t quite get there. What the kids are really after is a complete release from the fearful rule of adult law that governs and divides every moment and hour of their lives. They want a breath of wild, fresh air and a trip into the boundless sky. They want to assert their power and their identity and to overturn, even if momentarily, the rigid and lazy system that so binds them.
They want something that is bigger and stronger that the rules; something more passionate; something that is aimed directly at that hidden thing that they feel beneath it all but cannot name. They want a hero of that proportion who is of their own blood; their own tribe. And they want it now – this very night – before they grow old and forget their desire.