Monday, February 4, 2013
I did, however, take a few creative writing class, and in one in particular--which I unknowingly took with Steve Lorenz of Michigan Tremendous/24x7 fame--we were tasked with writing personal essays and critiquing the writing of others. In order for people to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and opening up with their writing, we began every peer-critiquing class/session with 45 minutes of complements and discussions of what the author did particularly well, followed by 45 minutes of what seemed amis and needed to be changed in subsequent drafts. If you're reading this blog, you probably know what's coming next. I didn't participate much during the first half of the class exercises, opting instead to discuss where the author stumbled.
At the same time, I was writing music reviews for websites like Stylus Magazine and PopMatters, and working at the Michigan Daily in the Arts section. What I found out, albeit slowly, was that I wasn't a very good music critic. There's a certain level of connection and empathy that comes with critiquing music, a fluid, personal expression. I envied some of my contemporaries like Mike Powell and Derek Miller, the likes of whose prose poetically discovered aspects of the music I had never contemplated. My mind was stuck on the chord progressions, cadence, flows, and the complexity of the beats, which is not to say that this isn't a valuable way of addressing music, but to do it well--see: Ian Cohen, Jeff Weiss--you have to be on some next level shit that I wasn't close to. I've since moved on to video games, which are far more calculating, and in this space, sports.
I'm telling you all of this to try and give some context for this blog which has recently become the Self-Hating Jew of Michigan sports sites, culminating in the MGoEeyore designation on MGoBlog that inspired the title.
In that creative writing class, I didn't put my efforts toward critiquing other peoples' writing because I wanted to be the class prick. In my opinion, most people know what they do well. The few times I wrote something that still holds up, it was fairly obvious why. However, my mistakes are far less apparent but more valuable in the long run; you learn more by finding out what you did wrong than being told what you did right. I assume other people find the same value in criticism, which brings us to Michigan sports and this blog.
I like Michigan football. I also like this basketball team, and despite popular belief, think they're quite good. But I'm of the belief that most of my readers know what Michigan sports teams do well. MGoBlog exists and does a fantastic job of detailing how and why, for example, this basketball team has become one of the best in the country. I don't write about those things for the same reasons that I don't write posts about recruiting or random news bits: the mission of this blog has always been to supply content that you can't get elsewhere. During the football season, that means extensive film breakdowns, the likes of which MGoBlog could do but doesn't have the time (or page space) for. But it also means asking questions about why Michigan teams lose close games or individual players' limitations, which exist but often go brushed aside--we're all fans and it sucks admitting our teams are flawed.
I think the frustration from readers arises because regardless of what I write here, it won't improve the team. Michigan teams won't learn from their mistakes because of posts on this site. So when I watch Michigan teams play, I know that Nik Stauskas is a great shooter but I want to see where his limitations lie. The same goes for a player like Trey Burke, who I'll be writing about tomorrow. So I don't pull my punches or hedge my bets: when I see a flaw, I write about it without qualifying, "But yeah, he's a really good guy and does all of these other things well." You know that already.