“I would never read that. That’s way too disturbing. But hey man, speaking of sexual abuse, have you seen Spotlight? Awesome movie.”
That was a good one. It came right after “Oh, you’re writing a novel! How exciting! What’s it about? …oh.”
I know. I get that a lot. I suppose I even understand. Eeeew. Pedophilia. Abuse of authority. Suicide. Paralyzing depression. Anger. Confusion. Prison. Drug abuse.
Yeah, how bout them Yankees, grocery lists, and don’t your walls just bring out the pink in your throw pillows.
Funny how people just change the subject and look away. But the ones with the chutzpah to confront it demand to know. Why not write about butterflies, sunsets, canoes, rainbows? Y’know, stuff we want to read about so we can shelter ourselves and turn away from what’s real.
Why? Because storytelling is the art of violating the status quo, according to Chuck Wendig. Chuck is a kickass author and blogger who pumps out a new novel every three months and spends all his free time advising the rest of us rubes who’re still wringing our hands over that first book. Be a rebel, run naked into traffic, he says. Don’t write about pastel stuff. Challenge the reader. Shock the reader.
But at some point even the best writers start believing the naysayers. Start thinking, yeah, this shit really is shit.
Then you read about Imani Boyette. Brave poet, college basketball star, now playing in the WNBA. Abuse victim. This amazing woman has fought demons all her life. And she’s come to realize that talking about it was the only way to save herself. And her courage may save many more lives.
So the sense of urgency comes back. Talking about it saves lives? Let’s talk.
Then you look around you. This crap is still going on. You see parents failing their children every day. Parents abuse their own kids. They allow trusted friends and neighbors full access to their kids, only to see Uncle Pete take advantage.
Priests. Teachers. Boy Scout leaders. They’re all in the news, and the torches and pitchforks come out in public outcry. But the coverage rarely shows the long term damage. Depression. Suicide. Homelessness, drug addiction, PTSD, broken relationships.
And for God’s sake. Kids are sent off to their sports practices every single day of the week by worshipful, obsessed parents convinced they’re doing the right thing. Eight-year-old swimmers. Ten-year-old gymnasts. Teenage basketballers. Spending time – many spending more time than they do at home – with coaches who make promises about everything from Olympic medals to college scholarships to the good things discipline can do for the child’s character.
Stick with me and do what I say. I’m gonna make your boy a man.
And parents buy it.
And coaches surround themselves with those worshipful parents, so the new parents get in line and get worshipful. Without questioning the alone time, the Special Kid relationships, the Inner Circle. It’s right there in front of them. But those worshipful parents know there’s opportunity in being the sheep, avoiding controversy. Troublemakers get culled from the flock like goats.
And goats don’t get scholarships.
In the worst cases, coaches are sexually abusing children. But even without that, the coach who weasels his way into a kid’s life, who becomes an infallible surrogate parent, manipulates that family like a master puppeteer. Follow my rules, don’t question, and here’s what you get. Screw it up, kiss your dreams goodbye.
What the hell kind of parent allows that relationship, that manipulation, that adoration, that secretive hidden pact between an outsider and their own precious child? Why do so many parents fail so miserably with God looking down at them saying “I gave you ONE job. Just one. And you blew it.”
That’s what this book addresses. Abuse, pedophilia, yes. Ugly stuff. Real stuff. But more so, manipulation, parental failure, and the tragic aftermath.
Oh. And baseball stuff. The joys and rhythms and heartbreaks of the greatest game ever invented.
Why the hell write it? It shouldn’t be necessary. All this crap is right there in plain sight.
Maybe this. To save a life. Just one life.
It’s called Diamonds and Dirt, and I’m looking for an agent. Hope you’ll take a look when it’s published. Maybe we’ll save a life together.
“Beg the Book to turn the page
Cause I get stuck where the villains get away.
Somewhere in this wretched tale,
There must be a line where the victim get his way, just one time.
Oh I’ll get mine.”
— Needtobreathe, “Drive all Night”