I golf a bit. Not as much as a few years back, but it’s still a good time when I get out. Golf courses are pretty places – flora, fauna, quiet usually. And you walk around or ride around and tell dirty jokes, drink a little beer, hit the occasional good shot. Four hours or so of camaraderie in funny pants. It’s relaxing.
Or it is for me.
But I know some guys. They agonize over every stroke. They’re pissed when a twenty-foot putt comes up three inches short. They get upset about stuff like “short-siding” themselves on their approach, whatever the hell that means. They are crushed when they leave their tee shot on the wrong side of the fairway. I’m pretty happy when I can find mine.
Of course, I’m lucky to break 100 these days, and even back when I was playing regularly and I was a little younger and a little stronger and a lot more flexible, breaking 90 was the best I could hope for. And who cares, really? I’m just out for a good time.
These other guys? These are your 70s shooters, your scratch-golfer types. They aren’t out there for fun. They are out there to win, to perfect their arcane art, to reign victorious in a battle with an unseen inner vision of perfection that’s always just beyond their grasp.
That’s swell, Dan, you say. But who gives a fuck about your golf game? (You fat-ass, one-percenting Republican bastard a few of you mutter under your breath to punctuate the sentiment.)
But this isn’t about that. It’s about this.
The last few weeks, I’ve read a few blog posts about how tortured we writers are. The hours and days and weeks and months of research and drafting and re-drafting and re-re-drafting that go into each work. All the unseen travails our benighted souls endure in lonely silence so that you lucky readers might one day bask in the light of our genius.
And it’s all true, I guess. This writing shit, once you decide you don’t just want to break 100 anymore, it can wear on you.
But then I think of some of my golfer friends, the ones who can’t smile on the links, who can’t relax a little and just have fun. The ones that, when you tell them “Nice shot” after they’ve split the fairway with a 350-yard drive that leaves mere mortals gaping in awed wonder, say “Yeah, well it’s about time” and stomp angrily and without celebration to the recalcitrant white sphere that had, until that swing, defied the perfect vision of their will. I always think hey, nobody’s got a gun to your head here. If you aren’t having fun, go home and screw your wife. Or your mistress. Go do a line of coke of the dashboard of your Beemer. Life’s too short.
And I guess I feel the same way about us tortured writers – and I’ve fallen into that trap myself. Unless you’re under contract (and if you are, good for you – that’s a problem the rest of us would kill for) nobody’s got a gun (or a lawyer) to your head either. Enjoy it a little, willya? That chunk of copy you just wrote, the one that flowed through you as if you were a divine conduit for the verbal music of the spheres? Take a second, give yourself a pat on the back, print it out and hand it to somebody and say “Look what I did!” When you hit a nice shot, celebrate a little.
Because life’s too short. Not just metaphorically – really. If you aren’t having any fun, what’s the point?