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Writer’s note: The following entry contains the “f” word, so if you’re easily offended …
Today marks one month since I turned 38.
Counting today as Day #1, there are 700 days before I turn 40.
Why the fun with numbers?
Because it’s time I overcame my fears and insecurities and just lived.
In “The Shawshank Redemption,” the phrase was, “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”
I think my father-in-law put it best — even though he meant something else when he said it — when he said, “Stop fucking around.”
The truth is, though, that I have spent a lot of time — a lot of life — just fucking around.
In some ways, it’s just my nature. Even back in high school, I wanted to be a writer. And I did some writing, because I was in a creative writing class and so I had to in order to get a grade.
But for someone who’s decidedly non-OCD — my desk, for instance, be it at work or home, is 99 percent of the time a mess — I have this compulsion for things to be “perfect” before I show them off to the world.
Be it a piece of a fiction, or this blog, or my website that I’ve been working on — I can’t just put it out there.
The thing is, though, that I’ve clearly overcome that when it comes to my sportswriting — at least when I’m on a deadline crunch.
In those cases, my priority is to get the story done in timely fashion. Do I worry about word choice and how well I’m telling the story of the game I’m covering? Of course. But years of writing stories in a matter of an hour — oftentimes less — after a game have honed my ability to write as I go. To write fast and to write well — OK, sometimes adequate — at the same time.
That doesn’t necessarily translate to the task of writing a novel, or even a shorter piece of fiction. At least it hasn’t done the trick for me.
When I’m writing a game story, I’ve got a deadline and the story of the game itself. It’s really not a challenge to find the “plot” of a particular game, then build off that. My game stories may not be Red Smith-worthy, but I know what I’m talking about and get the job done in workmanlike fashion.
But to be able to craft a longer piece, be it journalism or fiction? Not something I’ve excelled at over the years.
So, do I put away those book-length ideas I have and stick with the grunt work of the game story? Or do I, as a great man said, “Stop fucking around”?
By the same token, do I get myself in shape physically? Do I challenge myself when it comes to some … hell, ALL of those fears and insecurities that have kept me from really living?
Or do I stick in that same rut I’ve been in for most of my life, playing it safe, hiding my feelings, and when my obituary is written, nobody knows who the hell I was?
Time to stop fucking around.