Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur



Filed under: Musings on Being a Writer — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The young man bounces the basketball alone. I want to draw a picture of him, but my talent is shy of the task. I want to take a picture of him, but he is so far away and my camera’s zoom is too weak to reach him. I have to capture him in words, which is usually my preferred medium. The only problem is that I no longer trust my words. I’m sick of playing Hide and Seek with them.

He jumps and tosses the basketball at one of the three hoops at the far corner of the park. He plays a solitary game of three-hoop basketball, whose rules are known only to him. His white and blue shorts look silky, just like the ones the pros wear. I watch him jump and reach for the ball rebounding off the rim. He stretches in the reach and he looks a little like a professional ball player, except he’s alone.

I never see the pros practicing alone. They must do it. It takes lots of practice to go pro, so there must be hours of solitary practice for every professional on the court. I’ve seen pro teams practicing together, but I don’t remember ever seeing solitary practice on television.

Oops… He’s gone, walking north and carrying the ball under his right arm. He slipped away as I wrote the previous paragraph. Now he’s walking through the church parking lot all the way across the street. Gone. Before I could catch him on film or in a sketch or even in words.

How many hours of practice does it take? Did he stay out long enough to go pro? How many hours of practice do I need? I’m officially a professional writer. I get paid for my words (albeit not as much as I would like). When does it get easier? If I were to ask Michael Jordan, would he have an answer for me? A sick feeling in my gut tells me it never gets easier. I have the notion that any professional would tell me that it never ends. I always need to practice, no matter how long I have been writing.

A man in his forties has arrived on the court. He is wearing a sweat shirt and long sweat pants with a gray stripe down the sides. He bounces and jumps and chases after the wayward ball. Unlike the boy before him, he sticks to one hoop. It is the one furthest from me and my view is obscured by the baseball fences and bleachers. I can hear his ball bounce on the court. The springtime sun removes his sweat shirt, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. He bounces the ball behind his back and around himself to the front.

My camera can’t reach him and my pencil can’t capture him. All I am left with are my words, which are fleeting and untrustworthy. What is he thinking about? Like me, he practices alone. I scratch out Graffiti letters on my handheld and he chases his blue ball when it rebounds off the rim. It never ends until we die. There is always a need for practice, whether we are professionals or not.


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