Two speeds. One I use way more than the other.

Good morning! It’s a rainy, windy day here. I like wind and I like rain, especially if I’m snuggled up nice and safe inside. My writing location has shifted to an office chair and a tiny laptop holder situated where I can see out my front windows. The street is endlessly interesting, and I can see a good chunk of sky and trees. Most of this move has been made necessary by some hip irritation I’ve been experiencing. For some reason, losing seventy pounds through diet and exercise has aggravated a small piriformis issue; I’m using my body differently and I’m sure both the piriformis and my iliotibial bands are unhappy with me. Nothing will solve it but rest, stretching, and taking care of how I use my body. Grrr.

I also need a massage. Dayum. Anyway.

Sean Ferrell has a great post up about his writing process. Being who I am, this little chunk of it particularly stood out to me:

I write every day. Especially when I don’t feel like it. Especially when it’s not working. I can always choose to not use something that I wrote and that I realize later is the wrong tone, doesn’t fit, contradicts other parts. I can’t decide to use something that isn’t written. I can’t use something that is still in my head. Better to have something come out half right than have all of it perfectly in my skull.

I’m glad Sean mentioned this. I happen to think disciplining oneself to write every day, even if it is in very small chunks some day, is critical. (But we all know how I feel about that.) You can’t edit when you don’t have raw material, and better half right than not done at all. True, true words.

The other half of the coin is taking care of one’s sustainability, filling the well inside your head and making sure you have enough emotional and physical energy to run on. This is the difficult part for me. I tend to mortgage bits of myself and run until I hit a breakdown, which is not healthy. I’ve learned several tricks to compensate for that little tendency of mine, all of them directed at making me take care of myself. I felt bad about this until someone said, “Why? They’re strategies for self-survival, and they sound like workable ones. Quit wasting time feeling bad about them and focus on bolstering them. Self-care means you’ll write longer.

Amen.

Anyway. Enough of my lecturing. I had my first rock climbing class this weekend. It was a belay certification, and I have my belay card now. Part of the class was climbing so everyone else could get practice belaying. We each took several climbs and “falls”, some intentional and some not, to learn to trust the rope and our belayers.

It was awesome.

I don’t like heights. They don’t terrify me the way small airless spaces do (if you ever meet me in an elevator, just be prepared for the fact that I’m not going to talk until I’m outside the metal cube. There’s no AIR in there.) but I still don’t like them a whole hell of a lot. Yet when I’m clinging to a rock wall, I don’t think about the space underneath me. I think solely about the next hold and how to hug the face of the rock. My concentration narrows to a single physical point, and for someone who tends to chew mental leather until the flavor’s all gone, that is a relief. I can tell that climbing, for me, is going to be one of those blessed activities like running, where my brain stops eating its own tail and focuses outward.

I can’t wait for the next climbing session. There’s also a bouldering class; after you take it you can go in and boulder on the bottom of the rock wall anytime there isn’t a class. I hear this gets you into great shape for climbing. I can already tell I’m going to be working out plot problems while clinging to holds. Awesome.

After the belaying class, one of my classmates looked at me. “You know, for someone who’s so nervous about climbing, you sure didn’t hesitate much.”

I thought about it for a second. “I don’t tend to hesitate.” At least, I thought, not when I’ve got a bunch of people looking at me and a wall to climb. All my hesitation comes before, while I’m looking at the wall and wondering whether or not I should do this. “I’ve got two speeds,” I finally said. “Full stop or dead ahead. Mostly dead ahead.” And it’s true. Once I put my hand to the first hold, it’s like drawing the sword. You make your cut. You commit fully. Once your hand grasps the hilt, it’s too late to back out. You’d better be ready to tango.

Writing taught me that. I’m not sure it’s good for climbing, but in the interim, I’ll take it.

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