Last year, I was an assistant coach for a JV girls’ lacrosse team. It was the debut year for a high school team in our area (after two years of having a middle school program). There were growing pains, mostly having to do with too few people doing far too much, and it was hard.
That is the way it is at the beginning of many ventures.
Still, the girls trusted us to be there for them. We expected them to show up five days a week for two-hour practices giving their best effort. We had to do the same, or more. We had to come prepared to guide, motivate, and inspire them.
Lacrosse season starts at the end of winter: the good thing about it is the weather gets better week-by-week, until you get to the end of the season with sunscreen and lots of water in hand. The bad things about it is you start the season in the rain and sleet, cold and dark, needing UnderArmour, fleece, gloves, and raincoats.
You don’t have to love lacrosse to do this.
You have to love the players.
Earlier this year, I attended the SCBWI Washington conference. I’ve written here about hearing Ellen Hopkins speak. One of her key messages is that if you are going to write YA (young adult), you have to love young people. You have to take the time to know them, and allow them to know you.
You can’t write down to them, or patronise them.
You have to love your readers.
I am coming to realise that this love must also extend to my main character. Similar to the experience with coaching, I have to be willing to be here with my MC every day: in the rain, in the cold, in the dark; in the heat, in the sun, in the shadow. I have to be willing to let it be hard for my main character if that will make her stronger in the end.
I have to love her enough to thow her under the bus, if that’s what she needs, or at least to throw obstacles in her way.
My MC starts out with what appears to be more than her fair share of disadvantages. But to her, that’s just her life. That is what normal is for her. It is when she steps out from this, away from the way her life has looked so far, that her story really begins.
Then it becomes HER life.
I really love this character.
listening to: 10,000 Maniacs, Trouble Me