A while ago SB Nation suggested I start doing an NFL picks column. "Count on it," I said, "but I've been in an MFA workshop all week and I'm not sure I can write anything without passive-aggressive marginal notes anymore!"
They hung up then—something about phone calls being pointless when you can just bring your characters physically together and see what happens—and as it turns out all my classmates had some really good notes for next week's column!
So (title's temporary) here's NFL Picks, Week 2: MFA Creative Writing Workshop Edition.
Plausibility Guy: "Rex Grossman is starting at quarterback for a team with an enormous payroll? In 2011? I just don't believe this character."
On Moral Fiction Guy: "Tim Hightower struggled his entire career to earn the Arizona Cardinals' trust, and now he's just playing against his former team and he doesn't feel anything? That makes me not feel anything. It's all very Bret Easton Ellis and unbearable."
Continuity Guy: "Kevin Kolb isn't as interesting as some of your earlier quarterbacks—I especially liked the fundamentalist Christian in the debauched world of sports, and the confused ballroom dancer—but he seems to fit in this story. More than Rex Grossman, at least." "What happened to that running back with the multiple personalities from the earlier drafts? He really opened the story up for me."
Secret Agatha Christie Fan Guy: "Look, there's just no tension in this story—we know the Steelers are going to win, and we know Tarvaris Jackson isn't going to be any better than Charlie Whitehurst, so why are we here? I don't want to get prescriptive, but maybe you could... (mutters)."
On Moral Fiction Guy: "Get off John Barth's nuts and write me an active protagonist. This Ben Roethlisberger guy might work—what if he isn't just a quarterback, he's also a sleazebag who likes anonymous, sleazy sex?"
Critical Theory Girl: "Nobody's troubled by me being the only gendered component of this discourse?"
Secret Agatha Christie Fan Guy: "I said, you could murder Tarvaris Jackson."
Undergrad Enrolled on Accident Guy: "I'd let you gender deez nutz. Like, by banging them."
On Moral Fiction Guy: "And this sex he likes, though—it's really sleazy. Like, you won't believe how—"
Tony Romo: "Look, I know some of you guys didn't get what I was trying to do with this piece—"
On Moral Fiction Guy: "Please, no talking during your own workshop."
Tony Romo: "—It's just that, yeah, maybe I'm injury prone and I don't play well all the time, or maybe you just don't get what some of the absences in this piece mean. Like, maybe it's a comment on Alex Smith? Or maybe it's just about—"
Critical Theory Girl: "Ugh, here it comes again."
Tony Romo: "Yes, maybe it's about all the hot women I bang, like, every day. Huh? So if you have such a big problem with my structure, maybe you can take it up with Jessica Simpson—if she's not too busy sleeping with me back when she was super hot."
Undergrad Enrolled on Accident Guy: "I'm in love with you. In, like, a gay way."
Plausibility Guy: "I—you know what? I buy that."
Continuity Guy: "So you just keep building Lance Kendricks up throughout this story, and then at the end you just forget about him and he sucks again? Where's the arc in that?"
Really Specific Family-Related Hangups Guy: "What I love about this story, just love, is how brother Peyton Manning, that high-and-mighty little bastard, finally gets hurt, so he's finally out of the picture, and then Eli still is a disappointment. It's, like, you just can't get away from it, can you? You just can't! And don't even get me started about Archie, who never played catch with Eli no matter how much I begged him."
Secret Agatha Christie Fan Guy: "... so, like, it turns out Danario Alexander's knee has really never been injured, and he's just been using it to get close to the hot team nurse, and then she dies under mysterious circumstances and he couldn't have gotten through the locked door, on account of his knee, but really he does."
Harold Bloom: "I don't even know what I'm doing here."
On Moral Fiction Guy: "Like, maybe being Ben Roethlisberger just doesn't allow him to, you know, to get off anymore, so he has to find these squalid, filthy bathrooms, and you won't believe how filthy they are, and my god, the women—"
Critical Theory Girl: "Probably finding some marginalized people to oppress."
Undergrad Enrolled On Accident Guy: "She said, finding some marginalized people to oppress."
Harold Bloom: "More like, uh, press on deez nutz!"
Metafiction Guy: "I'm not really a fan of this ending."