Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Practice Makes...?

Not perfect. At least that's what Mark Gerry (my high school football coach) said. He told us that practice doesn't make perfect, "practice makes permanent." I happen to agree with him. Nothing is perfect. Sure, if you practice over and over again you'll improve at whatever you're doing, but if you practice without passion you'll never be as good as you could have been. The sloppy practice will become permanent, just like Coach Gerry said.

I just read Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña (new faculty member at VCFA I might add). It's about basketball. The main character is good. Real good. He plays ball all the time. It got me thinking about Coach Gerry and practice. Basketball players can play anytime they want. There are hoops everywhere. All you need is a ball and you can work on your shot all day and all night if you really wanted to. It's a sweet deal. I never got to do that with hockey. And I played a ton. Way more than most of my teammates, especially when I was a kid. I mean, yea, I could rollerblade and play street hockey, and I could shoot pucks against the garage, but I couldn't really play. You couldn't skate. You need a rink for that. And ice time is expensive. I played every chance I could get though. Even pick-up games 4-5 times a week in the summer at the local rink. It still wasn't enough. You hear stories about guys from northern Canada playing on the pond for many many more months than I could. They lived it. That's all they did up there. They were just like basketball players. I always envied that about them.

I feel lucky that writing is something I get to do anywhere, anytime. All I have to do is pull out my little notepad and jot down some ideas. I can read amazing books to help inform my own creations as well. I can analyze why a given piece of literature works or why it doesn't. I can think about my stories while I'm at school shelving books. I can spend most of my day in Writerland, not just the time I spend tapping away at the keys. I finally feel like a basketball player. I get to practice with passion, so I can make those skills more permanent.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Three R's

Reading, Researching, and Relaxing

Thesis draft deadlines are fast approaching. I'm going to be reading and researching most of the day. It's a must. I need to find a few more articles to inform my thesis. I'm not sure if I'll use them or not, but I feel like I need more information. I need to know more before I can really start pumping out some pages.

However, taking a little time to relax is key. You can't stare at a computer screen for the whole day. I might go watch a hockey game. I might go for a nice walk. The sun's out, and a little bit of sunshine can go a long way when your fingers hit the keyboard again.

Just Finished: Iceman by Chris Lynch
Currently Reading: Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña
Up Next: Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Positive Energy

When I was playing and coaching hockey, I was much more concentrated on fundamental skills and creativity than I was with all of the new systems out there that make players conform. I felt that by taking away a player's creativity, a coach was also taking away a bit of that player's confidence with it. And, no confidence = no positive energy moving forward. Pretty simple. It happens way to often in the hockey world. They want to break you down before they try to build you up. But what if they break you down too far? They don't think about that. If it doesn't work out, they'll just go find another player that will work for them.

Thankfully, VCFA is NOT like this at all.

I've just returned from yet another amazing residency, and I have so much (SO MUCH) positive energy moving forward. It's really hard to describe. No one there tries to break you down. No one tries to make you conform to the norm. All of the faculty and students are praised as individuals and treated as equals. Our workshops groups are amazing. We critique each other's work, and all of us have an equal voice, from the award winning faculty members to the students who have already been published to the veteran students to the newer students, all the way to the newest students that have never been part of a critique group before.

Where have you ever been where that has happened? I hope you can answer that you've been lots of places like that, but I haven't. I have never experienced anything like this. VCFA is a life changing experience. I'm getting all pumped up just typing these words. The positive energy is filling up my entire being. Time to open my word doc. Time to crank out some pages...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs!

My VCFA residency is in full swing. It's such an amazing whirlwind of an experience.

My classmates and I are blogging about our adventures over at Through The Tollbooth, a great site run by VC alums.

Direct link to my post here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

'Twas the night before residency
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring
not even my cat