A disclaimer: there is an old axiom about stones and glass houses that certainly applies here.
I have achieved much less as a writer than, of all people, tennis legend Moncia Seles who – and pardon my surprise at this – has published two young adult romance novels. (I should specify that Seles co-wrote the books with James LaRosa and Paul Ruditis, respectively.)
I am not a tennis aficionado nor am I an adolescent girl. These books are not meant for me (not that that’s ever really stopped me before). They’re not really meant for Grantland’s Brian Phillips either. But he read them. And his response, which is conveniently broken into 62 bite-sized pieces, is absolutely worth reading.
A couple of samples, for clarity’s sake:
The series is called The Academy. It’s set in a boarding school for athletes, and it’s a little like an EDM-conscious Catcher in the Rye crossed with a less vampirey Vampire Academy — only not like that, not even remotely…Well. The world, I think you’ll agree, has waited long enough to hear the opinions, the feelings, and — most importantly — the judgments of a thirtysomething male sportswriter on this YA series aimed at girls a little too young for the Twilight books. Herewith, therefore, 62 scalding takeaways from The Academy…
1. This sentence: “‘Only you can know how crappy that feels,’ Maya said, empathizing.”
Or how about:
5. The fact that the Academy is a pristinely manicured 600-acre private high school that trains über-elite athletes in all sports, from tennis to golf to soccer to football; that it features “million-dollar villas” and a “cluster of stores” ranging from “Hermes and Versace to Prada and Manolo Blahnik”; yet that it is never given a name beyond “the Academy,” as if Game of Thrones were set in a vast fantasy kingdom known only as “Map,” or the Harry Potter series took place in a magical castle called “School.”
And lastly this beautiful stretch:
18. That Jake is then described in the following manner, instantly reordering the literary pantheon of depictions of turned-up rumpledness: “From the head to the clothes, everything about him looked like he’d just rolled out of bed. A sexy bed, but a bed nonetheless.”
19. A SEXY BED.
20. BUT A BED NONETHELESS.
I just…I mean…
Look. I am not a tennis legend. My name does not have the cachet that Monica Seles’ does and I do not have her connections. But, if this got published, then there’s still hope for me, right? It, at the very least, made me feel better about my own writing. (And, should you be reading, I mean that with all due respect, Monica.)
At the risk of offending I-don’t-know-who-exactly-but-someone, let me put it this way: a friend recently told me that he felt a lot better about his impending fatherhood after going to the state fair. “You look at all these people with their dragon tattoos going shirtless under their overalls,” he said, “And they have kids that are very much still alive and functioning. And you realize that you’ll be fine.”
So thank you, Monica Seles, for reminding me that I’ll be fine, too.