It’s said that a novelist must be prepared to “kill their babies” to produce a decent book. It’s a literary term used to describe the process for self editing that a writer must do in order to finish their story and iterate their work towards a final manuscript. I am currently in the middle of writing a book and I am pretty shocked at the things I thought initially as being vital that I have had to give up, simply to make the story work.
Put quite simply you go into a writing project with an awful lot of preconceptions, events and characters that you think are indispensible to the story. They are precious to you. The process of self editing is an examination of your vanity, your commitment to the project. As you develop the story from its premise you run into issues with your precious babies. If you aren’t prepared to set aside some of the golden haired children of your imagination you end up with a story that is contrived, convoluted or just plain muck.
You might be say, writing a love story centred on the coming of age of a teenage girl from a broken home – “Wow great premise.”
that is set against a back ground of an international vampire war – “Ok cool I’m with you so far”
And you might think that it’s a great idea to make some of the vampires “vegetarians” and the others “carnivores”. – “eh but don’t all vampires feed on human blood?”
You then might even think that it’s a good idea to introduce a love triangle element that involves a werewolf. – “The what now? aren’t werewolves cursed humans who change into beasts on a full moon and go hunting human flesh?”
And finally you might want to have a woman impregnated from a man who is dead for over 100 years. “But that’s just nonsense on so many levels… and correct me if i am wrong but isn’t it physiologically impossible?”
But why take a vampire and make him something else? Vampires are well defined, as are werewolves. There is a wealth of lore on both so why would you reconstitute them? Why change them from the inherently evil, relentless killing machines that search for blood and / or flesh to simply make them mildly inconvenienced (and let’s face it boring) teenagers with great hair and unbelievable super powers to compensate.
Make them truer to their nature or make them something else. Or you might end up with Twilight and sparkly bleeding sap-pires or werewimps.
Now to Arsenal. While regular readers will recognise me as a fairly vocal evangelist of Arsene Wenger, I am not a slack jawed, blind follower. I sometimes think the man himself is showing less faith in his own vision than me. Put simply he finds it hard to kill his babies, as do Arsenal fans in the main.
We have laboured for seven years trying to build a story that first of all was about a dashing young Spanish matador, who would battle orcs and mercenaries to win golden treasure for his family and friends. The problem was that our Spanish hero had a character defect. It was a fatal defect, you see he was from another story and didn’t want to be in ours. The team was built for him, but he needed it to be built around him. He needed to have faith in his team mates and a love for the fans that exceed his love for his DNA. He never had either so we forced our affection on him and hoped that our love would be enough for both.
It wasn’t. But not only was his heart not free enough, or his conviction not strong enough, he simply didn’t fit into Arsene’s story arc.
Fabregas was not a Wenger player. He became a sap-pire.
Arsene builds teams that exploit space. Anelka, Overmars, Ljunberg and Henry where forever being launched into space by inviting through balls from midfield –they simply pulverised high defensive lines. When opponents sat deep we had Henry, Bergkamp and Pires who could make the most of the space around the D. Even when the opposing teams got their defence right, we had giants and beasts like Campbell, Vieira and Toure in the box to hit with corners and free kicks.
It wasn’t a boring story at all. But Arsene decided to change it.
He saw the Barca model and he envied it. Possession football. Passing. Control. He could do that. He hated taking his great teams to the camp neu and losing a battle of philosophy. He wanted to beat them at their own game. In fact i think he wanted to take their ingredients and make something different and new from them.
But a leopard never changes his spots. Oh don’t get me wrong he made a go at it. He built an exciting team that he choreographed as well as Barcelona. At times they can be breathe taking.
At other times turgid and frustrating.
Why? Why doesn’t it work consistently? I think it’s because it is too choreographed. We tippy tap passes around but the movements all end with Van Persie. Stop him and you stop Arsenal.
Stop Henry and Bergkamp’d get you, or Pires or Freddie.
In Barcelona they play tikataka organically. It’s a rhythm that Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Fabregas all grew up in. As an ethos it’s effortless for them. But it’s not effortless for Denilson, Song, Arshavin, Walcott, etc. They learn the dance steps but they move to a different rhythm. Walcott has been criticised for not living up to his potential but last season, Fabregasless, he stepped up the plate a good bit. Why? Well quite simply he needed to learn the game. Learn the role.
Fabregas was built for the game from the age of 10. Walcott learned a different game from 10 to 15 and then had to learn a new one. Hard trick with an old dog.
All these characters failed in the story of Cesc.
Bendtner has no place in a 4-3-3. Chamakh, Park, Eduardo the same. Naturally speaking neither does Walcott
Denilson, Arshavin, Vela. All played out of position. All contrived to facilitate our number 4.
You see like vampires and werewolves our players are well defined by the time they get to the first team. Hell our manager is well defined.
What I mean is; how do we take a lazy, often brilliant, central half striker like Arshavin and shove him on the wing and then tell him to help out his teenage full back?
Likewise how do we take a speedy, straight line running shot/cross merchant and expect him to dribble past players and run in broken curved lines? Lines that he can’t even see?
Theo might be adapting to the dance but he craves space,
Arshavin craves space,
Van Persie craves space.
The Barca team and Fabregas don’t need space. They press and close down space safe in the knowledge that they have the technique and instinct and faith in their team mate to move the ball in tiny channels. We can’t do that. We want space, we really don’t want possession.
We want to win the ball and score within 20 seconds.
Does anyone remember the Invincibles? What a team. They were never in danger of losing a game all season. I mean I don’t think in the whole season we were ever behind after 70-75 minutes. We’d score early and often and then defend as a team. Teams would break themselves on our defence like ships on rocks, and we would break and score late goals. Didn’t we only ever seem to concede from corners and wicked deflections.
Tikitaka is a defensive style of football. Arsene Wenger is an attacking coach. It is about dominating the football and denying the opposition the ball, space or time. Press, pass, press pass. run your opponents left and right in the midfield. make a simple pass that Messi has rehearsed receiving a million times. Tikitaka is far beyond choreography, it is second nature to them. If not first.
Wenger built a similar system, except Arsenal, in fairness, try to attack more. We also have a distinct defence, midfield and attack. Barca have 10 midfielders – and all the players on the pitch are stood in within 20 yards of the ball radius.
Van Persie was bought for the Invincibles, he wasn’t bought for the Cesc team. He was a half striker; a successor to DB10. but he never got a chance to play as that because we had started our evolution to 4-3-3 when he was breaking into the team. He is probably leaving with the wrong concept of himself. He may have been a good leading man, but he may have been an even better supporting actor.
2012 / 13 Sees an opportunity to get back on track, back to the story line– we have the players to mount a challenge. We have the coach.
I think now of Podolski, and I picture him from all those German internationals running from the left wing into an ocean of space or against a scrambling defence. Pires like, Henry like.
I can see Walcott (if he stays) running through from the right like Anelka used to, like Ljunberg used to. I see Wilshire and the Ox unleashing them from the middle, Vieira-esq, Bergkamp-esq.
I see a solid back four and an improving keeper. I see a wealth of dept on the bench.
I see Giroud as a beast in attack, a fox in the box.
Maybe a Plan B and a plan A rolled into one.
I see Arsenal as no longer a 1 man team. No longer handbraked by the tippytap delusion. Wenger may have had the scales lifted from his eyes. And for that i’d like to thank Barca and Man City – you have killed our babies for us and paid us for the pleasure.
Written by Double98