The Elusive Escape of a Sportswriter
I want to write this article; I really do. I want you to click on it, to read it, to laugh, maybe cry, maybe cringe, maybe email me about how much you hate it. I really do.
But I have nothing, nothing at all.
I tried—God knows that I tried. I tried much harder than I should have tried.
I tried writing about the summer, about the year, about how much I was looking forward to the Olympics. Nothing.
I tried writing about change; how I repress it, fear it, avoid it, about how it dictates my sports life, my whole life. Nothing.
I tried writing about anything. I looked through obscure newspapers. I walked around the block. I banged my head against the wall. Not an ounce of anything.
Heck, I even tried to write about wanting to write and not having anything. No avail.
I'm watching the clock, eyeing it as it eases toward midnight, Aug. 2. For the past two months, no matter where I was, no matter when I was, I had a story. It was in me.
Brett Favre, Esther Vergeer, Oregon Wrestling, Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Marat Safin and Roger Federer, Tiger Woods—everywhere. I could not get away if I wanted to.
And now, here I am, wanting to write...and I have nothing. Burnt out.
Three days without an article really would not classify as writer's block, but when you're on the best streak of your life, it's forever.
Do you think Kenny Perry wanted three days off in between tournaments over the past two months as he was contending in almost every PGA Tour event that he participated in?
Do you think the New York Mets wanted the three days off for the All-Star break after their remarkable nine-game winning streak to move them to the front of the National League East standings after laboring in fourth?
Of course not. And why should I be any different?
Here I was, rattling off stories like Perry or the Mets rattled off victories, and I took a breather. And now I have nothing.
But also, I don't want to fall back into a slump.
Before two months ago, I went five months writing just one article. I'm really not sure where that one article came from. I had nothing. Every day.
And I showed it.
I free-fell into a mild depression—nothing too serious, but enough that I sought counseling. A few bad breaks and me not having anything to write about derailed me. And I don't want that to happen again.
I realized that I write because it releases myself. I feel free; I feel content. When I don't write, the best I can hope for is complacent.
When I write, it is as if nothing else is happening, and it should be that way. Each story becomes my life, whether it is Brett Favre or Esther Vergeer.
I don't know how I can relate to either, but it doesn't matter. I become the story for those 45 minutes that I am writing.
When I wrote the Vergeer story, I became her. I become a person who has been paraplegic since I was 8 due to a botched surgery, overcoming every obstacle to become the most dominant athlete in the world, even though in reality the worst thing I've ever had to overcome was the death of my great-grandmother due to natural causes.
Yet, for 45 small minutes, I was something more. And I am something more each time I write.
So maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I'm writing because I want someone else's glory. Maybe I'm writing because I want someone else's happiness. But that's fine with me. I need the escape.
I need that escape as much as Brett Favre needs attention.
I need that escape as much as Marat Safin needs to crumble every time he gets a bad call or makes a bad shot.
I need that escape as much as Tiger Woods needs to show up and give his all even when he only has one leg.
It is the only way that I can live with myself.
So I write, for better or worse, telling a story and hoping that you will enjoy it as much as I have let myself become a part of it. And tonight I let you down.
You clicked on this story because you wanted to read it. You wanted to laugh, to cry, to cringe, to reminisce. Maybe you wanted to browse, hoping something would catch your eye. Maybe you just mistook or misread the title for something else.
And I gave you nothing. It's all I had to give.
But you did click on this story, for better or worse, because you, too, wanted an escape. You, too, wanted to forget what drew you here in the first place. I hope you did.
Heck, as I wrote that last line, I no longer can remember what drove me to write this article in the first place. And that is the way it should be.
I might have had nothing when I sat down at my computer tonight; I might not have had the story that I longed for. And God knows I tried.
But, in the end, I earned my escape, and I hope you did, too. I worked my butt off for this escape.
Hopefully it's just a tad bit easier the next time I need one.
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