Golf used to bore me more than ironing. And I hate ironing more than I hate long division. I could go on and on with examples of the degree to which I loathe boredom, but came the day I saw the beauty in golf.
It took marrying a golfer. Though we were totally unsuited for each other, he introduced me to a game that, for a brief period in my life, became my passion.
During a getaway at a resort with a golf course, my temporary husband put a putter in my hand, and I understood why commentators always whispered at some point during a tournament, usually when a pro was scoping out a make-it or break-it shot, golf is a head game.
It puts you in competition with yourself. Perhaps all sports do, but golf is the only one I’ve played.
I became obsessed with hitting the ball because I couldn’t. Said husband advised me to keep my eye on the ball in that way he had that got under my skin.
I am, I insisted in that way that got under his skin.
You’re not, he insisted in that way… You know how that goes.
One memorable game took place on my birthday, and I made par for the first time in my life.
It took an extensive and expensive course to learn sandtray to discover how to keep my eye on the ball. Husband was right after all. For a brief time, it seemed golf might save our marriage.
Why did I choose a sand trap as the image for this piece? It’s the last place a golfer wants to end up.
Because one evening–we’d play twilight golf because we lived in brutally hot weather that cooled off in summer evenings–I landed in a bunker.
I was determined to hit that sucker out no matter how many strokes it took. We had the course to ourselves, and hubs went on ahead while I bounced my ball over every square inch of that sand trap.
I think it took twenty-four strokes before I gave up and picked up the ball. What difference did it make? Nobody was watching me. I realized this was my head game, and if I wanted to cry uncle, well, I was making the rules.
My sandtray course was a year off when I would learn how to keep my eye on the ball. That was as exhilarating as learning the second-best thing I’m good at.
Did I go on to become a scratch golfer? My hip gave out around the time the golfer and I divorced. When I moved back to my apartment, I saw a plea for donations of golf equipment for a girl’s school and let them have my beloved clubs.
What’s the point of this story?
Last week I posted that I was starting a 30-day comeback writing challenge.
So, how am I doing?
I’ve already missed a day.
Today I received my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. A significant percentage of people report reactions to the second shot severe enough to put them in bed for a few days.
I needed to prepare for that contingency. I had deadlines to meet before my appointment.
Yesterday, I worked frantically to finish a project for a client, and at the end of the day, with a chapter left to edit, I had no gas left in the tank to write a piece for my challenge.
This morning I had grocery shopping, phone calls, errands, laundry, the last chapter of editing, and my trip to my medical appointment. Upon my return, I saw another challenge day slipping away with nothing published.
Little spikes of anxiety fused with some lightheadedness, and I couldn’t tell if it was the vaccine or guilt or fear.
I joked a bit when I wrote out my challenge, but the truth is I take it as seriously as a heart attack.
As I’ve written, I’ve kept a strict quarantine this past year because I’ve sworn to do everything possible to stay healthy. I’ve maintained a decent level of mental health considering my isolation, but the one thing that suffered was my writing practice.
I’ve been writing for almost fifty years and daily for the last twenty-five. Every writer has one strength, and mine is a facile imagination.
I don’t claim to be the best writer in the world, but at any time of the day or night, I can come up with words to put on a blank page.
When my lack of stimulation drained my ability to create, it hit me like a Mack truck. Writing is my livelihood, my passion, my identity. To lose it is to lose my understanding of who I am.
My challenge is not a laughing matter for me; it’s my recovery, my rebirth. When it seemed two days would go by without writing an article, I saw my writing slipping away again.
That’s when I remembered my beleaguered golf game. I saw myself slugging away at that poor golf ball in the sand trap. I’d told myself I was going to stay there until I got the bloody ball out of the bunker.
But then I realized it was a ridiculous goal. I didn’t understand it then, but I didn’t know how to keep my eye on the ball. So I picked it up and went on to the slaughter the next hole, frustrated about not hitting it out of the sand.
My writing challenge is my way of getting back into my groove. It’s my challenge, not a bludgeon to hit myself over the head with if I miss a day.
It’s my commitment to return to the schedule of writing that works for me. Not a number on a calendar.
Just as I didn’t have the capacity to hit a ball out of the sand that day, I don’t yet have the stamina to work a full day and write whatever drivel is on my mind.
As Jessica Lynn, my source of inspiration for my challenge, reminded me in her piece, writing long is a muscle. Up through the first few months of the pandemic, I could get my Medium work done by 10 a.m. and move on to my client work or general time-wasting.
I’ll get back to that. But if I let fear or anxiety over missing a day throw me for a loop, I’ll shove myself back to square one.
The thing about those golf announcers who proclaim that golf is a head game, well, they are right. And so is my challenge. And maybe yours. In my challenge, I get to make the rules.
One rule I have is some days, I won’t get a piece written for Medium.
One other rule I have is even though I might miss a day, I won’t use that lapse as an excuse to quit writing.
I’m an editor and writer on Medium with Top Writer status. I’ve published 55 titles on Amazon and edit for private clients. If you’d like to hire me as your editor for fiction, non-fiction, or business writing, please contact me here. If you’d like to read more of my work on Medium, click here to sign up for my newsletter. Thank you for reading and stay safe.