The two scrawny elementary-aged kids kept staring at me as I stickhandled the ball and snapped it into the various corners of the hockey net. None of my buddies had been able to make it for a dek hockey game that day, so I had driven up to one of the local deks to work on my shot alone.
I figured that they would get bored after a while watching my goon self, so I kept practicing different moves and shooting from different angles.
They kept their attention span.
Both of them inched onto the dek and just watched; I couldn’t ignore them any longer.The hockey gods must have been watching me, waiting to see how I would respond. Awkwardly, I walked over and asked, “You two want to learn how to shoot?”
Their eyes widened and they shook their heads happily. I had brought two sticks, so there was plenty to go around. The sticks were taller than the two kids themselves, but it didn’t matter. Before I knew it, I was teaching them where to place their hands on the stick and how to follow through with their shot.
Then, of course, they asked to play a game, so for the next hour, I refereed a one-on-one hockey match between two kids I had just met. I probably forgot the kids’ names when I drove away from the park, but that day has stuck with me.
I could try to express why I love the game of hockey with all kinds of figurative language and rah-rah sports quotes, but it would be cheap. We’ve heard it all before: It’s for the love of the game, bro…blah, blah, blah.
But it’s simple moments, the awkward moments like the one I described, that remind me why I spend so much time slamming a puck with a hunk of wood at a metal cage. For an hour-and-a-half, I got to teach two random kids about the game that I love.
You’re probably thinking, Okay Mr. Love-of-the-Game, what’s this have to do with writing?
I make the error of trying to be too profound with my writing. I find myself tossing in flowery prose and a garbage can of worn out metaphors, because I want to leave the reader with the same passion I have for the subject I’m writing about.
It never works.
But I do have stories—personal stories from childhood until today. And I’ve left them to rot while chasing five-dollar words and first-class metaphors. It’s not that figurative language and metaphors should be left out of your writing, but rather, I think it’s the stories that draw people into your story.
Whatever your passion is, people will cling to it if you “translate the hype” and give them moments (real or fictional) that do the talking.
Jesus tossed out parable after parable to the eager crowds, so if the Messiah was telling stories, I think I better do so as well. I may not illustrate spiritual truths found in parables like the Parable of the Good Samaritan, but I can tell you about teaching two random kids about hockey—and why the unexpected, awkward moments have more poetry than any of my own prose.
Author’s Note: This post is part of an ongoing series of articles that will chart the progress I’m making on writing a short story. The story will be part of a larger Geneva College project in which students from Dr. Williams’s ENG 344 Publishing compile their short stories into a published collection for the campus. Check us out on Facebook under “Geneva Inklings.”
Kevin Cochrane is a writer and college student. Like what you read? Follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC, find him on Facebook, or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to get Town Crier’s latest updates. Want to read more? Visit his blog at restandrefuge.wordpress.com which offers a Christian perspective on the surrounding culture. You can contact him with comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.