B-Lloyd's Writing Workshop
I thought about skipping today's official Brandon Lloyd event, a seminar on journal writing for the second graders of McNair Elementary in Herndon. Lloyd has, perhaps, not been a major factor in Washington's 4-2 start, and some readers have suggested 'Enough already with this Lloyd stuff.' I respect that. On the other hand, you wouldn't tell Woodward and Bernstein, 'Enough already with this Nixon stuff.' Got to stick with your strengths.
And thus, Welcome to McNair Elementary on what turns out to be "Jersey Day," which means kids and staff members are wearing the uniforms of Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Sean Taylor, Patrick Ramsey, Stephen Davis, Jevon Kearse, Tony Romo, LeBron James and Andriy Schevchenko. Didn't see any "85s" in the crowd.
After a rousing welcome, B-Lloyd, who has posted Training Camp Journals on the team's official Web site the past two summers, was asked to make some opening remarks about his journalizing (journalistic?) philosophies.
"A lot of times I used a technique called 'Stream of Consciousness,' he told the 130 or so kiddies. "I'd sit down with my blank sheet of paper and just write whatever came into my mind. I'd try not to think about what I was writing, and just write."
Been there, my friend. Eventually, the floor was opened for questions, but they were all about football.
"Do you play tough in football?" one lad asked.
"Yes, you play tough in football," Lloyd said.
"I mean YOU," the lad followed up, "do YOU play tough in football."
Speaking of tough, tough crowd, huh? "Have you done a sliding tackle?" someone else asked. "Yes," Lloyd said. "Are you famous?" a girl asked. "No," Lloyd said, laughing. "Let's make sure our questions are about writing right now."
Then, amid the chaos of 130 second-graders, Lloyd talked about writing poetry, and writing music, and what he likes to read ("in the offseason when I sit down to write, I'm not really in the reading mode," he said), and the proper subjects of art ("my favorite thing to write about is just my life; I like to document that," he said). He was asked to recite a poem and declined. I thought he should have gone with some of his hiphop stylings; "I wasn't gonna spit any lyrics for them," he later said.
And then the event broke up into smaller journal workshops. One budding writer's thoughts began thus: "La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la." "That's a song?" Lloyd guessed. "That's a great start." He suggested a follow-up lyric: "Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba." The author's neighbor then began composing a similar song; "Let me see that song," the first author demanded.
Elsewhere a scribe was struggling with writer's block; "I can't think about anything," she complained. "Write about what you had for breakfast this morning," Lloyd advised. "My favorite sport is football" another student wrote. "Then put a period," Lloyd instructed. "Now: Why?"
The key question for any writer. Why write about childhood, or war, or love? Why write about Brandon Lloyd? I peered at more journals.
"Today we met Brandon Lloyd a football player from the Redsins," one student wrote.
"Mr. Lloyd is the best in his team," another penned, or penciled, I guess. "I love #85. When he gets tackled sometimes, Mr. Lloyd gets hurt."
True that. B-Lloyd, if you haven't noticed, has become something of a polarizing figure among Skins fans. Some yearn to see his potential unleashed, others call him among the biggest free agent busts in team history, accuse him of virtually stealing money. I asked for an opinion from Debbie Wines, the second-grade teacher who had invited Lloyd to share his thoughts on journal-writing.
"I'm not here to judge; the coach makes his decisions, but I wish he'd play him more," she said with a laugh. "He doesn't seem to get flustered by anything," she said as kids screeched in his direction. "Sometimes people get impatient once the noise gets going, but he seems to go with the flow."
Later we repaired to the library, where kids read children's books and Lloyd explained his philosophy of football, the philosophy that so angers so many, but that a few deluded optimists still cling to. Many beat writers, he said, seem to regard the sport of football more seriously than he does.
"This [stuff] is fun to me, this [stuff] is not a job to me, this is fun," he said. "And I think a lot of people say that and they don't really mean it, they just say it because it sounds right to say. This is fun to me....My last year in San Francisco it kind of switched, and all of the sudden everybody wanted everybody to be a 'professional' and act a certain way. So we're supposed to act a certain way, and then the coach would comes in here and say, "Remember, it's still a game.' Like, no. It's either one or the other. We're not gonna ride the fence here. One or the other. We're gonna have fun or we're gonna act like Donald Trump."
More from the interview later.
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