When this blog began, Bailey Tuckerman Kent was an 8-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog living in the western mountains of Maine with his writer dad, Rich. These are their stories.... and don't forget, click on most photos to enlarge.
I am thankful for the six unpublished books that I have
written: Summer Blue, A Field Beyond, Tracy’s Story, Goal Lines, The Guys, and
Beyond the Rules.
I am thankful for the 6000+- hours I spent writing those
books and the 69 rejections I received from publishing houses.
For the New England-based poetry editor who wrote to reject
my poems about Weld, saying, “this is shit written by a dilettante…no
substitute for the authentic stuff”… I am thankful.
I am thankful for my 1992 rejection to the UNH doctoral
I am thankful for the 60 rejections that I received for my
published books and the 100’s I’ve received for articles and poems.
I am thankful for the following line from a book review….
“And finally, Richard Kent. Ah, Richard Kent who makes us all feel like we're
not doing nearly enough. After reading his chapter, I felt a bit deflated. But
I quickly moved on to others who seem a bit more realistic (but, yes, he does
have great ideas).”
I am thankful for getting turned down for a job at Albion
College in 1979 and at least a half dozen more places during my lifetime.
I am thankful for the words of some of my portfolio-stressed
high school students, including the following:
“Dear Mr. Kent, I hope you fucking die in a car crash on the
way home.” [BTW, I made it home and called the student.]
“You are a horrible, untollerable, impatient,
anal-retentive, conniving weasel.”
“Mr. Kent… as a teacher I don’t particularly care for you. I
think your class sucks. There is a ridiculously huge amount of work in your
class. Most of the stuff we read in your class is junk… I’m learning nothing in
this class that will help me in any way in my life. I already know how to read
and write and unless St. Exupery is going to do my taxes for me I’m not going
to learn how to do anything in class that will actually help me in reality.”
Today, as I ran the mountain trails above Webb Lake, I
thought of the no’s that I have endured and learned from. Not surprisingly,
these disappointments have created both incentive and balance within my life….
Here’s to our failures and all those no’s… Happy
This funk that I've been in while writing this article isn't a funk at all. I'm not sure why I don't remember this feeling and this process when I begin a project. Why am I surprised by this? I suppose, really, I am not. I think my ego gets in the way as I think I should be better (i.e., more immediate, faster) than I am.
Peter Elbow brought about the term "freewriting" that resulted in his book Writing Without Teachers. In the book he writes,
"[D]on't worry about knowing what you mean or what you intend ahead of time; you don't need a plan or outline, let things wander and digress. Though this approach makes for initial panic [No shit, Peter], my overall experience with it is increased control" (1973, 32-33).
The poet William Stafford explored this issue, too. He wrote,
"I must be willing to fail. If I am to keep writing, I cannot bother to insist on high standards. I must get into action and not let anything stop me, or even slow me much... I am following the process that leads so wildly and originally into new territory that no judgment can be made about values, significance, and so on. I am making something new, something that has not been judged before. Later others--and maybe myself--will make judgments. Now I am headlong to discover. Any distraction will harm creating" (A Way of Writing, by William Stafford 1989, 18).
down Sugarloaf's famed Narrow Gauge Trail, downhill ski racer Sam Morse drops
2430 vertical feet in a little over a minute. The 16-year-old reaches speeds in
excess of 60 mph on the mile-and-a-half-long World Cup downhill course. Sam’s
parents, coaches, and teammates support his pursuit of podium gold... so does
I'm still wading my way through this article. Yet again for the 1000th time, I've discovered that writing is hard. Duh x 1000.
On the plane ride out to Las Vegas last week, after pounding away on the article for 15+- hours, I stopped mid-sentence and decided--because I didn't have a %$#@ clue what I was doing--I had to think in a more linear way. So, I constructed an outline. I can't believe I created a quasi-traditional outline... Usually, I have a list of topics and go from there. But this outline (and as you'll see below, it's a list with Roman numerals, Duh x 1001) seems to have gotten me off the dime.
It's not that I didn't know what I was doing in the article. It's just that I hadn't discovered what the data (i.e., interviews and writing) was saying. Sometimes, we have to live our writing to the point of utter bewilderment before a tiny speck of light begins to twinkle on the computer screen's page. Duh x 1002.
of Sam racing
of CVA (Bode, others … check with Chip/website)
II Sam through
his teacher’s and coach’s lens
at Serena Williams’ journal
focus of AJ is sport (While the primary focus of an Athlete’s Journal is sport,
other areas of the athlete’s life find their way into the journal. P 6/CB
IV Writing to
Charlie B. said
the BMA athletes as a collective said
do athletes learn? (Chart)
V Modes of
VII Sam’s First
of ski trips
of agreement between Kingfield ES and Morse family
One key to pitching ideas and books is to continually reach out to potential readership. A week ago I presented at the fall conference of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. From that experience I was asked to write a short article for the national AD magazine. Here's a draft for IAA Magazine's“AD’s Clipboard”:
with Athletic Team Notebooks & Journals"
by Richard Kent, Ph.D.
“Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts.
Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing
enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re
trying to learn.”
––William Zinsser, Writing
on the playing fields or in the classroom, writing is a powerful way to learn. Athletic
Team Notebooks and Journals can enhance communication and amplify learning by
providing athletes with space to analyze, reflect, and note-take. The idea of
using writing as a way to learn in athletics is not new. From Olympians to
middle schoolers, athletes use writing to guide training, motivate, and analyze
What’s a Team Notebook?
in Team Notebooks helps guide athletes to think more deeply about their
performances and the team’s. The basic Team Notebook has five sections that include
prompts to help players analyze their practice sessions and competitions:
–Preseason Thoughts… the prompts on this
page help athletes think about the previous season and the upcoming season.
–Competition Analysis I… the prompts on
this page help athletes reflect on a competition.
–Competition Analysis II… the prompts on
this page assist athletes in analyzing a competition that they watch.
–Postseason Thoughts… the prompts on
this page guide athletes in thinking about the past season while making plans
for the future.
–Notes & Journals… these pages provide
athletes with a place to keep notes and sketch plays. This section may also
include a variety of journal prompts to assist athletes in thinking more
broadly about their sport and their lives beyond athletics.
What’s an Athlete’s Journal?
Athlete’s Journal provides a place to set goals, grapple with issues, keep track of training
ideas, and record results. These journals may stand-alone or be a part
of a Team Notebook. Research suggests that writing benefits athletes by
reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-awareness, sharpening mental
skills, and strengthening coping abilities. Writing in journals or notebooks helps
athletes look back and think forward. Here are several model journal prompts
––Who brings out the best in you as an athlete
and why? You might first think of a coach, manager, or trainer, but also think
about family members, fans, teammates, or even an opponent.
story of your proudest moment as an athlete that is not about winning a
about this quotation from basketball legend Michael Jordan:
“I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career.
I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game
winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”
were young, whom did you admire as an athlete and why?
letter to one of your former coaches. You may wish to include some of the
following: what you’re doing now as an athlete; this coach’s contributions to
your athletic and personal life; the issues you currently face as an athlete; a
fun memory; and a photo. Send this letter.
this statement be true: “Some days, playing poorly is the most important result
that could happen.” Give examples from your own experiences as an athlete.
––After a competition, write a note to an opponent.
Highlight the athlete’s strengths or weaknesses, and feel free to offer some
advice. (Not to be sent.)
do you cope with anxiety or nervousness before a competition?
––Describe your most humiliating day as
more information and models of Athletic Team Notebooks and Journals, visit the
resource Website WritingAthletes.com.
Kent, PhD, is professor at the University of Maine and director of the Maine
Writing Project. He has authored ten books, including The Athlete’s Workbook:
A Season of Sport & Reflection and the Soccer Team Notebook
(with Amy Edwards, Gonzaga University). He may be reached at his resource