Football and poetry have more in common than you might think. They’re both played on a field of sorts, each with its own specific rules, and each relies on teamwork. There’s a rhythm in the cadence of the QB, in the footwork of receivers. There are plosive sounds as vowels and consonants collide, not unlike the onomatopoetic nature of the game.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
It’s one thing to “plan” to follow your dream with “your one wild and precious life” (which might just be the hardest thing to do, really, considering all the pressure you’ll probably face to do everything but that), but having a vivid imagination, having something to say, even finally deciding that you’re going to be a writer, all of these essential things aren’t enough.
You still have to find a way to sit down and write.
After all, the rest of your life can make that very hard to do.
That’s why one of the very best things I’ve done for myself as a writer was to apply to an artist residency.
The semester I graduated from Spalding University, one of my favorite writers and mentors, K.L. Cook, sat on a panel about “Life After the MFA” and, while some people spoke about the seemingly insurmountable odds that stood between each of us soon-to-be-grads and our dreams of living as published writers (the sort of stuff they tend to leave out of the recruitment brochure of any MFA program, but a truthful aspect of the writer’s life), Kenny focused on things we could do from that moment forward to give ourselves the best chance of realizing our dreams.
He didn’t side-step the challenges. He nodded in agreement several times when other people were sharing rather grave experiences. He also chose to provide us with action steps we could take to move us closer to that ultimate goal.