Thursday, October 01, 2009

Penalty on the Parents

By Nichole Giles

In the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity and privilege of attending two conferences. You’d think that after two conferences, I’d be brimming with new information and dying to share it with my readers. Strangely enough, I’m having a hard time deciding what to write about. The problem may stem from the fact that it’s almost midnight and I just realized it’s almost Thursday—my scheduled day to blog—and I haven’t posted anything to the group for an edit. (In case you’re wondering, our general rule of thumb is that we post to our Yahoo group the day before.) Or maybe it’s because I took in entirely too much information and now can’t get any of it back out of my brain again.

Actually, I’m thinking the problem falls somewhere between an early breakfast fund-raiser this morning, and a soccer game seven (or more) towns away in the freezing, icy wind this evening. And a few minor crises dealt with in between. So, rather than sharing all my newfound conference wisdom today (don’t worry, I will be sharing soon) I’m going to tell you about soccer.

My daughter’s team is good. More than good. Until today, they’d only lost one game. Unfortunately, this week they somehow got matched up against the top ranked triple A team, even though our team is technically in a double A league. So, basically, they were up against the best team from a whole other league. (Think: National bestsellers vs. Locally published nonfiction.) In order for them to play the game, we had to drive an hour to the field on the first freezing day of the season. But we went—even though it meant cancelling anything else we had planned for the evening—and set up chairs on the sides of the field.

The game started, and even though the teams weren’t very evenly matched, our girls held their own and gave the other team a good workout. When the opposite team was up two points, our goalie made an amazing save, and several of us stood up cheering for her. The referee promptly stormed over to us, announcing that, “Anyone with the ‘orange’ team (ours) was on the wrong side of the field.” Then he glared while about twenty of us stood, stunned, and picked up our chairs, blankets and umbrellas to traipse around to the other side—where the sun (when it came out) hit us directly in the face. After that, we set our chairs down, only to be told again to move—until we were on the far side of the field where we had to strain to see what was happening at the goal. (And it was all the parents, not just me.)

After his little show of power, the referee (who was a grown man—not a teenager) stayed on the opposite side of the field from us—refusing to come past the half mark, even to do his job. Unfortunately, his stubborn…well, whatever it was, caused him to miss some important things. Granted, they were minor things and probably wouldn’t have made a big difference to the outcome of the game in the long run. But the point is, he felt a need to show his muscles to us—the parents—but then retreated to hide. Funny enough, the minute he blew the whistle to signal the end of the game, he scurried off the field and disappeared. (Which made me sad because I meant to thank him for the time he took to ref the game, and promise him we’d keep secret his need to overcompensate for a lack in other areas. I know, I’m just nice that way.)

Why am I telling you this?

I think it comes back to good business and professional behavior. As long as you’re a writer, you will always have critics. Fortunately, you will also have a cheering section who will stand up and scream for you when you do something right—even if you’re fighting a losing battle.

And one day, when an editor, or agent, or critic, or blogger makes a bad call, smearing your name or your work into smudge, you’ll have a choice. You can run away and hide, or you can stick by your work and fight until the very end. If you fight the battle with integrity and drive, even if you lose, you’ll come away from the game a better person.

And your critic? Well, they may just scurry off the field to disappear into the parking lot—and never return again. Or not. But one can always hope.

Whatever you do, remember how very much our treatment of others matters. It’s a sad day indeed when the referee feels the need to run away while the opposing coaches, teams, and parents shake hands.

And with that bit of wisdom (please, oh please, let it make sense) I’m off to bed. Until next time, write on.


Taffy said...

Great post, Nichole!

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks, Taffy. It was fun to see you at the conferences.


ali said...

Wow, what a stinky night!

But I loved your analogy and totally got what you're saying. And thank you for it!

L.T. Elliot said...

Proufound and wise. Good manners are important and you never know just who you're journeying with. Kindness will always serve in good stead. Well, IMO.

Nichole Giles said...

Thanks Ali and L.T.! I totally agree.

Practicing grace in all things will never go out of style.


Tristi said...

This was a very good reminder that we should all play nice in the sandbox. Thank you!