Feb 092011


(DISCLAIMER: The editors of NC do not recommend trying this at home or abroad.  NC does not assume financial or legal responsibility for readers who attempt to disprove theories contained herein.)

Life after the MFA: The pay sucks, publication feels insurmountable at times, a book contract even more so, and landing a job teaching creative writing has been compared to finding a needle in a haystack with a thirty-seven foot pair of tweezers.  But, ah! the serendipitous joys of stumbling across random bits of arcane knowledge when researching a new story!

As I surfed the vast encyclopedia of human knowledge and experience known as the world-wide web, searching for answers to my burning creative questions, I unearthed multiple  websites that offered serious advise for how to fall out of an airplane (or off a building, cliff, etc.) without a parachute and survive the fall.  Yes, I said without a parachute.

The industry-standard, “expert” site, greenharbor.com, offers multiple scenarios, techniques, anecdotes and evidence about this rare and utterly unnerving phenomenon. The number of documented survivors of a radical free fall is truly staggering (something over 40 since people began recording these things.)  And barring divine intervention and/or hoaxes, there are indeed ‘tips’ an unlucky person might follow if one suddenly finds oneself falling from on high.   Snow, for example, offers a good landing zone if you hit it at the right angle. (No hints how to adjust falling body for impact angle at the terminal velocity of 120 m.ph.)  One site suggested looking for large bodies of water, and failing that, to search for swimming pools. (Contributor’s tip: Aim for the deep end.)  Trees are good targets, too, but only with  certain types of leaves and branches.

A Popular Mechanics article actually simulates the time it would take to free fall from 22,000 feet as you read down the article, offering ‘scientific’ suggestions on how to best prepare for the inevitable impact.

My interest in this topic grew significantly last week, after reading about a climber who fell 1000 feet from a cliff in Scotland and survived.  Since said climber kept hitting the side of the cliff as he tumbled, he was technically (according to some sources) not in a ‘free fall’.

Where else could such random, odd information be useful for crafting a new project at work?  Where else could a person not only advance his or her career, but also learn valuable skills to boot? Now if I just need to find a way to make this pay the rent!

By the way, when are the Numéro Cinq 2010 bonus checks arriving?

  10 Responses to “In Case You’ve Always Wondered — Richard Farrell”

  1. Nice use of “falling without a parachute” as metaphor for “life after the MFA”! You will survive, Rich, and then you can write a how-to article for the rest of us.

    • I have to admit that I was afraid to read this post. The specter of graduation looms near. I, too, await Rich’s how-to article. I anticipate a great deal of thudding against hard places.

  2. I might have start looking for work as a parachute salesman. A sky-diving Willy Loman.

  3. Wait a minute! I thought Rich was a Jedi Master!?!

  4. Actually, he’s a Creative Nonfiction Editor. That doesn’t pay anything either, but it sounds impressive. And think of the fun he’s having working at such a rewarding occupation!

  5. Rich – you just gotta fly. And you do.

  6. I avoided this entire mess by never going to school. Constant tripping over one’s own feet is better than falling thousands of feet from an airplane, right?


  7. Ha! Loved it. Loved the photos….

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