Reclaiming the Night


No skulls this week. I promise.


 About five minutes after I publish this article, Super Bowl XXXVVVIIILLYZ will commence. No one on this earth, save maybe the players and coaches, will be more zoned in to the game. For the thousandth year running, I’ve vowed not to miss a single snap, kickoff, punt, or PAT. Yes, it’s true. If I’ve a drug, it’s football. There’s nothing in this world I love more than NFL gridiron barbarism except my son, and even he’s only barely in the lead (kidding). During the NFL season, I eat, sleep, and dream of football. Hell, on Sundays I play football, recklessly abandoning my health to hurl TD’s (and INT’s) over guys twice my size who want nothing more than to eat me and send my body parts to the four corners of Scotland, William Wallace style.

So maybe you can see my conflict of interest.

For five and a half months each year, during prime writing season, what am I doing on Sundays, Monday nights, Thursday nights, Thanksgiving, and a few Saturdays? I should be writing, right? I should be locked in my man-cave, lights dimmed, a bourbon beside me, and my laptop where it belongs, in my lap. And yet, there I am. On the couch. Maybe I’ve got the bourbon, but I’m definitely not writing.

It feels like a strange contrast, these two loves of mine. Football and epic fantasy writing…not exactly the type of match you’d encounter on a dating website. On one hand, I’m in love with the violence of the NFL, the crowds roaring, the bodies breaking, and the beautiful mathmatics swirling in the players’ heads. As for writing, I’m nuts about sitting in the dark and painting with words in the silence. There’re no commercials during writing, no cheeers, no collisions, and no blood (well, maybe a little blood). Football and writing are a marriage based on the principle of opposites attract. One is a game; the other is a way of life. It’s a miracle the relationship has lasted this long.

Writing Dark

See, I promised no skulls this week.

And so, as the NFL season winds down and I find myself with no football to watch until September, I’m happy for it. My nights will be available again. I’ve still got the G man to tend to, but after he’s asleep I’ll have a few moments of freedom to escape to my dungeon and write. I’ll have no temptation to turn the tv on, no dissection of every NFL play disrupting my thoughts. Football is only a temporary mistress. She’s not the kind of woman I’d ever want to marry. She’s too needy, too loud, and too all-consuming. I’ll date her for a few months every year just for the excitement factor, but I’ll be relieved whenever she goes on vacation. I’ve got books to finish. That’s where the real satisfaction is. In the words. Writing is the kind of a woman you can bring home to mom. She’s not flashy, but if you love her, she’ll love you right back.

Until next year, football mistress. Thanks for giving me my nights back. We’ll meet again, but not before I pop off a few hundred thousand more words.


J Edward Neill


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