I have always been a golfer even when I wasn’t. My father played golf and he often watched the tournaments on television; I watched him watch golf, and play golf, and perhaps that is where my affinity for the game comes. Golf is a sport filled with beauty, imagination and precision. When one steps to the tee and looks onto an immaculately manicured, 300-yard fairway, it is an awe-inspiring view of soaring possibilities. When one approaches the close-shaven turf of a green it is a challenge to succeed measured in inches.
I have always been a writer even when I wasn’t. My mother was a storyteller. She had once played Meg in Little Women in her high school in Saint Petersburg, Florida. She read books to me and my sister filled with the intonations of her acting ambition. I watched her become the characters of these books and perhaps that is where my affinity for storytelling comes. When one approaches a new story, the cursor blinking rhythmically in the white space is a grand invitation to create a landscape of soaring imagination. When one begins to reveal the motivations, challenges and flaws of the characters who reside in this world it is a challenge to succeed measured in small detail.
Writing and golf take regular practice. One never becomes good enough. The practitioner is required to know and understand the rules, technique and theory of the craft so well that they can ultimately influence the practice through innovation. That’s when the golfer becomes the master; the writer becomes the artist.
Both endeavors take uncommon and painstaking patience. One must often wait (with grace when we can) for the next shot, the next word to reveal itself. Both also require a commitment to study. Learning (and re-learning) through one’s own work and by studying the work of others who are at the next level of execution.
Mental toughness is required to shake off the poor drive, the mundane paragraph, the writer’s block, the golfer’s slump. One must learn to step into the space where no outburst from the gallery, no domestic distraction can easily shake one’s focus on visualizing the trajectory of the ball and the plot.
The golfer and writer must often take chances. Getting out of one’s comfort zone, trying a new club from the golf bag, or letting a character take you down a path you would not normally choose is a glorious adventure to be embraced.
The writer, like the golfer, must love the act—knowing they have no other choice than to be before the unblemished page/the pristine fairway. Only then will frustration, poor performance and rejection seem less like failure and more like a spiritual nudge to recommit, with more determination, to the act.
Originally published January, 2012.