Body and Mind

I have a personal trainer, someone who helps me grow stronger and more fit, who shows me things I might not have figured out (and pushes me harder than I might, otherwise). A few months ago, I did something that demonstrated my kinesthetic sense, my awareness of my body in space. On the basis of that moment, she said something to the effect that I must have been a good athlete when I was younger. I said no, I couldn’t have been further from that, that I have no athletic ability whatsoever.

That was the end of the conversation and I’d completely forgotten it until yesterday. Yesterday, when I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror in a pose that rang a bell for me. I looked like an athlete, like a coach, in my polo shirt and jeans. The image stuck with me, because of what seemed to be me to be contrast between it and what I know of myself. I’m not an athlete, I’m too clumsy, I live too far inside my head.

Then, tonight, I started to regret not being athletic when I was younger. I started to regret believing the story of my lack of skill. Of course I lacked skill — I didn’t work at it. What if I had worked at it when I was younger? What if I hadn’t had this idea of myself as physically hopeless?

Before I could go too far down the path of ‘what if?’, I remembered how, when I started therapy, I had no idea how all my horror stories felt. I was cut off from my own emotions and had been for years.

For me, emotion lives in the body; if you ask me how I feel, I will tell you where I feel it. Those two pieces of knowledge came together tonight. If I was cut off from my own emotions, I was cut off from awareness of my own body. It was what I wanted — I know that without question. So there was no way I was going to let myself become aware of my own body, which is what I would have needed to do to develop whatever athletic abilities I might have had.

This brings home to me that it’s a system, my mind and body, completelly intertwined, the experiences of one affecting the other. The things I think and feel in my mind are expressed in my body — how much stress-related illness have I suffered over the years? The things I do with my body impact my thoughts and feelings — how much calmer and relaxed have I felt after a good workout?

In considering what to do with knowledge, the only thing I can think of is to circle back to that idea of myself as unathletic. Maybe I need to start seeing myself in a different light, to allow myself to imagine I might have been good if I’d had the safety to explore that side of things, if I hadn’t  had to shut off my emotions to survive. (Which sounds excessively dramatic, but isn’t.)

Because this is something else I know: It’s never too late. It’s never too late, as someone once said, to become what you might have been.

Struggling

I’m struggling a bit these days. Although it was less than a week ago, it seems like ages and ages since I wrote more than 200 words. Part of it might be that since that 1k day, my daily average has been about 200 words, or less than a page.

I know why I’m struggling: this is pretty much the midpoint of the story, and I’m stuck between wanting it to have enough oomph and not having any ideas — not one — for putting more oomph in. I’m worried that Ilsabet’s sojourn in Narthé’s aerie won’t seem nearly traumatic enough, but I’m not sure I can make it more traumatic without violating both characters. Initially, my thought was that she’d be in the aerie for a few days, but I can’t think how to write that without it being as dull as dirt.

The key thing here — and the thing that keeps me going — is that I don’t need to make absolutely sure right now that this is perfect. This is far from being my only chance to get this right. That’s why I think revision is a writer’s best friend — it’s your second, third, or even fourth chance to make your story everything it can be.

As of today, it looks like I’ll finish the first draft around the second week in June. I intend to let it rest for a couple of weeks before starting to look at it for revision — I need to get it out of my head. I might start planning the next story during those weeks — I can’t imagine anything doing a more effective job of cleaning my story palate.

Ruthlessness

One of the hard parts of being a writer is that sometimes you have to be utterly ruthless with yourself and your work. Yesterday, I cut the so-called last scene out of the manuscript. I saved it as its own file — I’m not entirely sure it doesn’t belong, so no need to waste it.

But I’m pretty sure, so out it had to go. I actually dithered over it for a while — I didn’t want to lose the words. After struggling so long to make any kind of writing progress, it’s hard to make myself go (apparently) backwards. That’s where the ruthlessness kicks in. The scene almost certainly doesn’t belong, and having it hang around at the end of the manuscript meant it was harder to find where I’d left off. Instead of just going to the end, I’d have to remember — usually incorrectly — what page I’d been on when I quit.

So, even though I really didn’t want to lose all those words, I cut the scene. There’s a part of me that gets a little sad when it noticed that I went from 27,360 words to 25,299, but I mostly ignore that. Instead I look at the daily totals, the ones that show me I’m perservering, and continuing to work at it. That’s what matters.