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I'm happy with this, but would love your thoughts...

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by SuperflySnuka, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Step one, denial.

    "I was at the University of Nebraska wrestling camp," XXX said of the day he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament. "I was wrestling a kid, and I did a move -- I mean, man, I've done that move a hundred times. I pushed into the kid sideways real hard. Right when I planted my leg, it just popped. I didn't know what it was. I kinda laid there for a while and the trainers came out and straightened my leg, and I told them I wanted to finish the match.

    "I went out there, hobbling -- I wasn't doing too good. The kid went for my knee again, and he took it completely out."

    Pause for a moment.

    In that moment, imagine your future erased, your confidence shot, your dreams carried away like a feather in a breeze.

    The hours in the weight room, empty. The scholarship money, worthless. The livelihood, dead.

    Step two, anger.

    "What bothers me the most is my junior year, I had a great year," XXX said. "I had so much going for me. Then, all of a sudden, in 10 seconds, I wasn't the player I was. And I couldn't play the season -- that's what killed me. I lost all my scholarship money when I tore up my knee. After I got hurt, they all kind of lost interest. They all want me to walk-on now."


    For a while, XXX struggled just to walk. Athletes are lucky if a torn knee only affects them physically, as the pronounced limp can be a trigger for the memory of the injury.

    The pop. The fall to the mat. The writhing in pain. The helplessness.

    And then, once the injury is healed, it starts all over again on the playing field. An athlete might tell himself that he can make it, but the impact just isn't there. The muscle memory has faded. XXX even tried switching positions, leaving his linebacker spot for the defensive line. Anything to get back to the old days.

    Step three, bargaining.

    "It's ... it's tough," XXX said. "You've got to react right then, you don't have any time. It's more mental now than it is physical. Just making a cut when I'm not expecting it, I'm a second behind. My mind is a second behind where my body wants to be."

    Just months ago, though, his body was in the exact opposite of where he wanted it to be. And his mind was well aware of it.

    After taking some time off initially for the knee to heal, XXX tried going through two-a-days last fall. But his knee would shift and, quickly, the pain became just too much to bear. His doctor recommended surgery; XXX hesitated, but finally gave in.

    The surgery was the pop quiz. The following week was the true test.

    Step four, depression.

    "The week after surgery I had to stay in my leg-extending machine for a whole week," XXX said. "On my back for the whole week in that machine, the only time I could really get up was to eat or use the bathroom. That was the worst seven days of my life. Sitting there doing nothing ... it'll drive you crazy."

    Added XXX, XXX' father: "I think we both cried. He certainly knows the severity of an ACL tear, how career-ending they can be. He initially was very upset, then it was denial. Then after he got through that it was, 'Enough of this.'"

    So he started rehabbing. And continued. And continued.

    Blood, sweat and tears meant nothing.

    All that mattered was getting back on the field. And XXX did, in the first round of the state playoffs. In the first game of the season, XXX lost to XXX, 41-7, with XXX watching from the sidelines. In the playoffs, with XXX playing for the first time, the XXXX beat the XXX 7-0.

    "Never for a moment was it even a consideration for him to stop playing football," XXX said. "He was very dedicated and self-disciplined. A very rigorous rehab regimen, which actually for the first several weeks was hourly exercise for 12 hours a day. I'm pretty confident that he didn't miss one. In fact, he probably added a few in there."

    Even better, XXX developed a passion for physical therapy, a field that he hopes to pursue and perhaps help another kid in the same situation.

    "It was bad for a while," he said. "Right now it's in the back of my mind; when it first happened, I was just in a depression. It put a lot of stuff in perspective for me. I mean, I'm not gonna go pro or anything. It really helped with what I want to do with my life. It showed me that life really does come before sports."

    Step five, acceptance.
  2. jakewriter82

    jakewriter82 Active Member

    I'd say the only thing I'd add is some more background.
    One graph of background on who he is, where he's playing, what kind of awards he has won or whatever would fix a lot of the problems I'd think and maybe have a better transition from wrestling to football.
    Reading the start I assumed he was a wrestler, but then you mention football so I'm confused, I had to reread it to make sure I didn't mistakenly think he was a wrestler.
    I like lead and setup, though.
  3. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    On a whole, I really, really enjoyed it. Very well done.

    Jake's right... I see he went to a wrestling camp, but then started to read about football. Was he a football player and wrestler that happened to get his injury at wrestling camp? Maybe a quick nut graph on this kid's background that wouldn't have taken away from the flow of the story.

    Love the flow of the story and how you transitioned from quote to quote. It worked. Good job.

    One thing I cringed at was how you ended this sentence:

    in that moment, imagine your future erased, your confidence shot, your dreams carried away like a feather in a breeze.

    I would have rewritten it this way:

    In that moment, imagine your future erased, your confidence shot, your dreams dashed.

    Personally, it keeps that "punchiness" and rhythm to that sentence and "dreams carried away like a feather in a breeze" was what made me cringe. I dunno, just didn't seem to fit with how well-written the rest of the story was.
  4. I agree on all counts from both of you. The story was Part 4 of a four-day feature series about the state all-star game, so it was in context when I read it grouped together. In hindsight, needed a little more background.

    The feather comment - shit, you're spot on. It's called underwriting. I overwrote.

    Still working hardest on pacing and control of a story, rather than flowery language. I have the language, I don't have the pace...yet...I hope

    Thanks for the input guys...
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