Writing does writing, I’ve heard it said. And, if you want to be a writer, you have to write. You learn to write by writing, and so on. It’s a fact, as one of the characters in my friend Nora’s work would say. You can sit in classrooms and workshops and learn about writing – techniques, craft, plotting, structure, character development – and make all the notes you can stand, but you won’t truly understand what it is you are hearing until you spend many hours doing it. Many, many hours. Maybe the full ten-thousand hours I’ve heard proclaimed that it takes to become a master at anything. I’m not sure how many, but I do know that for me until I get my hands on the keyboard the full understanding of something told to me can’t bloom.
I am a bodyworker. Not the metal and steel fender-bender kind, but the soft and deep-tissue kind. But I didn’t sit for hours studying maps of the human anatomy. I went to India, where I knew there was an experiential training in Osho Rebalancing, an approach that had spoken to me through the hands of a practitioner. The sessions I received deepened my own body awareness to the point where I knew I had to learn this work.
Every day for half a year, I was in a heaven of learning with my hands. Most days we began our class by dancing free form for at least twenty minutes. That would segue into a physical exercise where a particular muscle group would be engaged. For instance, when we were to begin work with the legs, we danced to deep drumming music and were encouraged to drop down into our legs. When the muscles we were to study lit up then we looked at pictures of those muscle groups. We connected them in our imagination to our class skeleton, had their functions both described and demonstrated, and then we observed as one of our teachers did a treatment of that body part on a model. That was all great, especially the movement part, where I was able to feel from the inside the focus of the day, but the real learning came when I put my hands on a live body and connected what I had experienced with what I now could feel. When we switched roles and I became the recipient of the session, the lesson was complete. Inside and outside, I knew it. It was now part of me.
And in many ways, it’s the same for writing. It isn’t until my hands are moving across the keyboard and worlds and people are being born that I begin to know what writing is. Reading my work aloud or having my work read to me is like receiving a Rebalancing treatment. Then I know how it sounds, i.e.: feels. Receiving a constructive critique helps everything fall into place.
So even when I don’t feel like it, even when it’s arduous, even when my council of apes has my full attention, I will write. I’ve been slacking off because I haven’t felt well. (Touch of flu, you know.) And I’m just doing revisions now, so it’s not as if I’m doing any real writing… What I am doing is reading Stephen King’s, On Writing, and he’s put me to shame. He writes every day, even on Christmas and his birthday. He supports the notion that if you are aiming to write for four hours a day, and you finish a piece at the three-hour mark, then you write, “The End,” and begin something new.
He’s thrown down the gauntlet. I wouldn’t say I’m a prolific writer – I’m a single mom with her own business – but it is a priority for me to write. I would like to have completed several books and armloads of short stories and poems by the time I leave the earth party. The only way that’s going to happen is if I write.
My friend/dream-muse, Noelle Bickle is an inspiration. She has just completed the first draft of her second novel in record time. By putting her head down and her fingers to the keyboard, she has turned out about sixty-thousand words in the last couple of months. And damn good words, I might add, having had the privilege of reading many of them. There’s another “little glove” thrown down.
And I’m up for it. When my fingers are moving I am learning. I am learning what works and what doesn’t, learning craft and learning about myself. By writing. By reading and by listening. But above all, by writing. So, I shall, as my friends in the biz say, Write On!