Everything is always harder than you think it’s going to be. It was seventh grade before I learned to make the rabbit go around the tree and into the fabricated hole of my second shoe lace. I’d been looping and crossing bunny ears for so long I’d forgotten it was the simplified version, the little kid’s way. My sneakers never complained.
I never thought it would be so hard to quit this column.
The weeks drag on now. What happened last Monday seems a month ago, and hazy. A morning fades into afternoon melts into evening. I go to bed, I get up again. It’s like that Monday deadline was my anchor and now my ship has become unmoored. I float from weekend to weekend, far from shore, my feet slipped lazily into worn, soft loafers with the heel mashed down, no effort at all.
“I’ve missed it,” I recently confessed to a reader I didn’t know was a reader. She commented on an essay from a while back, the one about running. She said I’d really nailed it. Of course I mentioned the column had been retired. She nodded in concession and I was suddenly embarrassed to be having the conversation. We talked mostly about running, about how hot it had been, how humid. We’d both been out that morning and both wilted in the Alabama summer. I’m off my running game, discipline gone to shit.
But this morning was different. At 8:30 the temp was in the 70s and the humidity was low. I’ve been running a good 45 seconds slower than my pace before those ridiculous 100+ degree days settled in a few weeks back (and for more than two weeks I didn’t run at all). This morning I was on my old pace, a little faster even. My muscles had not forgotten! And I can still tie a shoe lace; rabbit, tree and hole.
Writing and running have to be practiced regularly if one wants to improve and gain strength. Omitting either for too long leaves a person sore and inflexible.
Colin Nissan recently wrote this piece The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, the first paragraph of which I've quoted below.
WRITE EVERY DAY
Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.
How easily my writing muscle has taken to this essay. Muscle Memory, with the workouts under belt, pages written, astonishes the cranky writer not writing.
Truth is, I just miss writing this freaking column! I miss the tap, tap, tap of the keyboard. I miss the audacious, presumptuous act of publishing my thoughts online, daring one single human being to read it, to like it, or, the Gold: to actually relate. But, that’s what writers do; expose insecurities, turn their insides out and hang them on the line in the front yard, next to the rusted chevy on cinder blocks, baggage no longer functional, yet still sitting around. It’s honesty that connects us, makes us feel less alone, less alien. That’s why we read. That’s why we write.
The next project, the grand, very exciting next project teased in the Goodbye, Monday column is taking too damn long to come together and I need my fix. As great as the next project might be, nothing will ever be exactly like this project, which, turns out, I love.
Like a true addict I’m not thinking about tomorrow, or next Monday. I’m not thinking about where this column is headed or what might come of it or even the point. Expectations are low to nil. Not even sure what needs to be accomplished this afternoon, or what’s for dinner, or which job I should apply for next, because right now it’s all about getting high. Writing’s in my blood and it won’t quit.
Changes have been made to the design of this blog. An easier reading font, format and a link to a photo collection, (camera icon to the top right). If you're reading in email, please take a look. I'd love some feedback.