Wow, what a weekend. It started with snow. In May. In Arkansas. I ask you, what’s a die hard northerner to look forward to in the south if not nice weather? We’ve already opened our pool, for Pete’s sake. And now we have snow! It couldn’t have come at a worse time—it was the first tennis tournament of the season. So here I was, missing a writing conference that I’d love to attend because of my kids’ sporting events, and the weather was not cooperating. I had planned for sun and heat and instead I was worrying about precipitation and wind chill factors. Not the weekend we had planned.
It was not a good weekend for us. On Friday, as I said, we woke up to snow. I was too cold to even get out of the car to take a proper photo of it. The tennis matches were all backed up and rescheduled, as well as operating under amended scoring protocols. By the time my son was used to the tournament and thoroughly warmed up, his match was over. Sadly, he lost, which isn’t unexpected for the first match ever, but he took it hard. By the time we ate and went home, the Penguin game had started. Luckily, we recorded it. Sadly, they lost too. It was a bad day for us all around.
Saturday started out as wet and cold as Friday. Tennis was still on amended schedules. My daughter’s match was delayed several hours, and they didn’t even bother telling us, so we just hung around for, oh, I don’t know, ever, until our turn. She made it into the semifinals, so we thought things we looking up. We were wrong.
Sunday dawned warmer and partly sunny. After Mass, we headed over to the courts and I checked in my daughter while my husband left with my son to go get some practice time in before his match. Everything was looking up, right? Wrong. They took my daughter ahead of schedule, so my husband missed the beginning of her match. He didn’t miss much. She lost. My son played a couple of hours later. He had a great match, but he also lost. We decided to grab something to eat and call it a day.
We headed out to a Mexican restaurant. I usually cook a special Mexican meal for Cinco de Mayo, but we weren’t home for me to make it, so we were at the mercy of the restaurant. The first piece of bad news: we walk in and the television above the bar has the hockey score on. No point in watching the game now. At least we won. Then the waitress who took our drink order never came back, so we were abandoned for a while. The good news was that we ended up with a really good waiter when he figured out that we weren’t being served. The meal wasn’t that good because they were super busy and using a modified menu, but we were together, so that’s all that really matters. I’ll just make our “real” meal later in the week.
So what’s the take away from this weekend?
- They don’t cancel tennis tournaments for snow.
- The kids are resilient when they lose in tennis matches.
- It doesn’t matter whether my kids (and my pro sports teams) win.
- Only four more years until I can make it to the writing conference in May.
And how these things impact fiction writing?
- Sometimes weather is inappropriate for the season.
We’ve all seen storms thrown into stories, or cowboys riding into sunsets, but consider the weather as part of the setting when it’s not traditional—like snow in the summer, or a heat wave at Christmas. How can that impact your characters and your story?
- How characters handle adversity defines them.
My kids didn’t make it into the finals this weekend, but they left the tournament as champions because of how they handled themselves. There were no McEnroe-sized temper tantrums, there were no tears. There were no blaming bad calls. There were no varsity limps. My kids shook hands with their competitors and held their heads high as they walked off the courts. How your characters handle losses helps readers know who they are.
- Heroes can’t always win and villains can’t always lose.
There’s something to be said for the successful villain or the down-on-his-luck hero. If the hero is always on top, he’s going to be boring. He needs to face adversity and not always win. If the villain doesn’t score a success or two, he may succumb to new lows of depravity and evil, but he’ll be one dimensional. No one loses all the time. Mixing it up makes it more real.
- Writing conferences will help you improve your writing.
There are times that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. This weekend, the first weekend in May, is always our first tennis tournament. It’s also the OWFI Conference. I can’t do both, and my family needs my support more than I need to go to the conference. There are other conferences, and in a few more years, I’ll be free to attend this conference, too. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find conferences important. I do, and I suggest writers find a conference and attend it. In fact, I found my agent at a conference, so I can’t say enough good things about them. Do your research, prepare, and attend. It’s a great way to network in addition to learn about your craft.
So no, this wasn’t the best weekend the Troilo family has spent in recent history. But we took our lemons and made limoncello out of them. (We’re Italian, what else would we make?) I hope you had a better weekend than we did, but if you didn’t, hopefully you found a way to get the positives out of the negatives. Good weekend or bad, why not share it with us below? Especially if you have a tip for a fellow writer.