Sunday, May 17, 2015

Muscle Memory

I have awakened far too sore for someone who spent the majority of yesterday afternoon paddling about lazily in a pool. 

But let me remind myself of what I actually did accomplish yesterday:  I took the flowerpots with dead stalks to the side of the house, the potting and re-potting area.  I moved the flowerboxes that are really too big for a windowsill; I had a vision of petunias trailing over the side of the boxes, but so far, they are hiding meekly.  My spouse got up on the roof for the annual inspection and the cutting back of tree branches.  I hauled tree branches to the branch pile.  I made focaccia dough, and made a pan of traditional focaccia and a pan of pizza--yum, yum, yum.  I helped a friend fix her bike.  I went to spin class, too; it's not like I was completely lazy.  In fact, as I look at this list, I begin to understand why I'm achy.

I tend to see myself as not living up to my full potential--thank you, Inner Guidance Counselor.  That's why I think that journaling and blogging is good.  I can go back and really see what I've done, not just what I remember.  And I can check in periodically, to see where I need to adjust the trajectory of my life.

In terms of writing, it's been a week where I didn't get much new writing done.  I tried to write some poems, but nothing gelled.  I wrote another page of my short story.

But if I look at the areas that are also important to a writing life, it's been good.  I pulled together my June posts for the Living Lutheran site, which is more like a weaving together of old ideas and new ones.  I updated my web page.  I added some more agents to my list of people to query.  I sent off 5 packets of poetry and 1 short story--hurrah!

It's interesting to me how some weeks, it's easy to do the creating, but I feel like I'll never send out a submission ever again.  Other weeks, I do a lot of the background work but worry that I'll never write a poem or finish writing a short story again. 

It's important to keep all of these muscles functioning.  It would be great if I could flex them each day (writing in the morning, submissions in the afternoon, networking in the evening), but that's not the life I live right now.

The life I live right now is more like this:  prepare a packet of poems to submit, help a student, research a writing opportunity, prepare a report that may or may not be important, sign paperwork that withdraws a student from class or changes a grade, write down a line or two that may become a poem, help a faculty member with a problem, write myself a note to send a packet of poems to a journal before they close for summer, evaluate a student transcript, answer 20 e-mails, sign another 8 pieces of paperwork, get a flash of insight for how to move forward the short story that I'm writing, answer the questions of the dean or an admissions person, prepare a packet of poems, help a student figure out who can help with their issue, wish for more time for more focus, answer a student question . . .

But those writing muscles are ready, whether I have a scrap of time or the rare stretch of time.

A footnote:  I got this idea of muscle memory from the world of sports and training.  I think it carries over nicely to the world of creativity.  And for those of you who want a Sunday poem, here's a villanelle.  I don't usually write in form, but for I'm calling it a success.  It first appeared in Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature

And in terms of content, it's a poem I still like, even though I wrote it years ago. 

So, for your reading pleasure, here's the poem:

One Fast, One Slow

The muscles remember what the mind forgets.
The brain replays every decision, each move.
The muscles waste no time on useless regrets.

They keep an even speed, moving in the groove.
They do not lose a beat, always keeping the pace.
The muscles know only one way towards what they have to prove.

With the mind mired in time, the muscles move through space.
The body leaves the mind alone to second guessing.
The mind, unlike the body, knows there’s more than just one race.

The mind spends time wondering what is missing,
That abandoned job, the trip we never took,
The other people we could have been kissing.

The mind knows any decision is worth a second look,
Even choices made years ago.
The brain decides there’s no such thing as a closed book.

The muscles focus on their task, to strengthen and to grow,
The mind might say it does the same,
Two processes, one fast, one slow.

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