Delusions Of Grandeur, Premonitions Of Doom – or, The Ups And Downs Of Writing

seesawThis story is great. No, it’s garbage. Everybody will want to read this. Nobody will get past the first page. I’m going to be rich and famous from this stuff! I might as well give up right now.

Sound familiar? I’m convinced that writing fiction is one of the most manic-depressive jobs in existence. Every single writer I’ve talked to has had to deal with the twin demons of fame and failure, at least at the beginning. Every stage of the writing, rewriting, and editing process is besieged by delusions of grandeur or premonitions of doom, with remarkably little room for anything else. In my own case, these opposing thought forms can switch places daily.

Here’s the secret for you, one that I believe every writer needs to find: they are both wrong.

It starts slowly. A turn of phrase, a delightful metaphor, a paragraph that does its job, shines on the page with that special twinkle. That’s pretty good, I thinks. That’s worthy. People will like this one. They’ll pay money for this. Hell, they’ll even tell their friends. I can do this. It’s easy, in fact! Just string a bunch of these excellent paragraphs together and I’ll be able to find an agent. They will get me a bidding war. I can feel that first advance cheque in my hand already, brimming with big, fat zeros. Then I’ll do it again, piece of cake. I’d better pick up a smoking jacket.

All this time – an hour, a day – my fingers haven’t been moving. My mind has been captured by the fairy of future greatness.

Or the words don’t come. I reread yesterday’s work and it’s tripe. It feels like I’m rubbing the paint off the delete key. I can’t see the story for the inner fog, and it’s no use. I can’t do this stuff. Nobody will like the story anyway, several of them have already said so. That last rejection letter had a coffee stain on it, at least I hope it was coffee. It’s too hard. I might as well give up now. It looks nice outside, where all the normal people are. There’s no story in here anyway, at least not anything interesting. I’m done.

So I leave the keys. The depressive swing of the seesaw has stopped me for days, even weeks.

But I noticed that the two demons were never far away, and they were completely arbitrary. The first time I saw them switch places within the space of three sentences, I actually laughed out loud. Then I kept writing. I’d found the secret – all they are is distraction from the work that needs to be done. All they are, when it comes right down to it, is the writer’s mind doing what the writer’s mind should – making up stories. If it’s doing its job, then your mind will make you believe the unbelievable.

So forget about it. Laugh at the delusions of grandeur, the premonitions of doom. Be entertained by them, even. Just so long as you don’t believe them, and don’t let your fingers stop moving. That’s what a real writer does.

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Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Importance Of Stretching, Part 1

Morning-StretchYou’ve woken up from a bad night’s sleep with a kink in your neck. Doing the same motions every day at work is starting to take its toll on your body. You don’t seem to handle the pace of your life as well as you used to, you’re always a little tense inside. And it’s getting harder to reach your shoelaces.

You need to stretch! As a massage therapist, it was the most common piece of advice I had for my clients. Muscular stiffness is one of the easiest physical problems to get – don’t prevent it and it will eventually happen – and the jobs, lifestyles and stresses of modern life do little to improve the situation. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest physical problems to prevent, and the medicine is easy and enjoyable to take.

Muscles are designed to contract. The fibers they’re made of, when signalled by the nervous system, ratchet together and become shorter, with the cumulative effect of pulling bone A towards bone B with a great amount of strength and speed. Then, when their action is no longer needed, the impulses to the fibers stop, the ratchets let go their hold, and our muscles relax out to their former length – ideally.

But many of us have forgotten how to relax. Established postures, hidden stress, and the busyness of life ensure that our muscles don’t always let go, and we stay tense. Over time, tension settles into stiffness, like an elastic band gone brittle. And that’s when the problems begin. Stiff muscles and fascia limit the movement of our joints, which need movement to stay healthy; they limit blood flow, starving our tissues and messing with blood pressure; they reduce our natural agility, making us clumsy; and they rob us of vitality, for it takes energy to keep our muscles tight. Being stiff means that you don’t move well, not all your energy is available to you, and you’re more susceptible to illness, degeneration and injury than you need to be.bear-swimming

Stretching is really that important. Our bodies are wonderfully adaptive mechanisms, and will put up with years of abuse and neglect, but eventually the unstretched person will suffer from aches, pains, and reduced body functioning and vitality which can easily be regained. More next time on the benefits of a loose body, and suggestions for how to accomplish it.

Published in: on September 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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