Writing is Like Running

I write and edit all day most days. Still, trying to write my own thing after almost a month of keyboard silence is like trying to learn to write for fun all over again. I'm gritting my teeth and frowning at my screen, trying to intimidate it into yielding high-caliber work. So far, all my laptop has done is stare back at me with a bored, mildly amused expression. Occasionally it yawns and asks if I'm done yet. I can take a hint. Maybe (not).

Self-admitted, I'm not a poet—I respect the art, but it's never been my choice of medium. Well, not for a long time. When I first learned that poems didn't really have to rhyme or have any structure, I went poem-crazy. Filled up a notebook at least, with fine work. It was really quality stuff, like:

The sky is blue today
I see the blue sky and the green grass
and I hope to get a letter
from grandma in the mail.

That phase passed, though (to everyone's relief). Now I realize that poetry is in a class alone, especially for communicating emotion and ideas simultaneously. But sometimes it's also in a class of complete nonsense, which nobody admits because It's so deep and beautiful that it thwarts my comprehension. Or, as us common folk would say, I don't get it. In an effort not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I read poetry when I come across it and try very hard to decipher it. I have probably a 60 percent success rate. It's tricky for a total literalist like me, who reads:

I spilled the milk
all over the floor

And thinks, What a bummer. Did you clean it up or did you call the dog in? A skilled poetry-interpreter reads the SAME THING and is on the verge of tears because they see the author grieving over an immeasurable loss that will have more than one implication on his future.

And I'm over here thinking, Never mind, I give up. I'll just try to color inside the lines with my crayons. Let me know when recess starts.

But enough is enough. I wasted a lot of your time with nonsense about poetry (which I really do think is great), because I'm secretly hoping maybe you won't actually get to my poem because YES, writers are occasionally nervous about people reading their stuff.

In the rhythm of life
writing is like running.

Do it all the time
and you'll breeze past obstacles
with long, steady sentences
and barely break a sweat.

Start when you're out of shape
and it's agony
as you try to say something
but can't because
you just

Reading good writing,
like watching people run,
is motivating
Maybe someday I could be that good
but only if you work very, very hard
and I promise it won't always be fun.

And if there's a point
if it's to win a race
or deliver a message
or beat a personal record
then there is delight in the accomplishment.

But if it's obligation
or duty
then word after word feels like
misery and never-ending drudgery.

Start now
practice always
and focus on Someone that matters.

That's the best way to do it
in running too
but especially
in writing.