Wednesday, December 19, 2018

my most necessary writing exercises

Whether or not you celebrate the upcoming holidays, this is the time of year when the North Pole begins to tilt toward the sun again. Those minutes of daylight we lost incrementally from October through November and December--until we were waking in darkness and eating supper in darkness--will slowly seep back again. That's worth celebrating.

I'm looking forward to staying home this year, hanging out with my favourite guy, going for walks, cooking, having wine, eating.

Our tree is decorated with ornaments from my childhood--small, rusty-around-the-edges, crusty-with-glitter, 1960s gewgaws. Also a few ornaments that might or might not belong on a tree but friends have given them to us over the years. A broom, an angel, a heart, a wooden boat...

While home, I won't be working as hard but I'll be revising a manuscript, since I'm at that stage when taking a complete break would mean having to go back to the beginning to pick up the momentum again. So it's better to keep working, if only a few pages of revision a day.

And when I write, I do my writing exercises. They're not the kind that need a computer, paper or a pen. In fact, anything but.

One is a sideways stretch a FB friend recommended. My neighbour in the Gaspé got me doing forward bends, arms hanging to the floor. I have a routine of neck stretches, including the all-important chin tuck because writers suffer from "writer's head"--that peering-at-the-page/screen posture. I have a yoga mat beside my desk and lie there and knot my legs. Since I don't notice how quickly time goes by--I'm STILL working on same fucking paragraph!--I set the alarm to go off every hour. That was on the advice of a physiotherapist. I don't always stop every hour but mostly I do. I have a standing as well as a sitting desk and divvy my workday between them. It could be age, it could be the cold climate, it could be a propensity to creakiness, but in my experience writing is *not* the best activity for the body, and so I do what I can to compensate.

Another exercise is the long walk I do mid to late afternoon when I go see what's happening in the city, maybe meet a friend, sometimes take a few pics. In the one of the Lachine Canal above--can you see?--someone got onto the slushy ice to scrape letters. To spell what, I don't know but it must have felt worth risking breaking through. ??

I like walking at sunset, in dusk and darkness, so I don't mind that the days are short in winter. I especially like when it's snowed and the snow reflects light into the air. But I equally look forward to the days getting longer and walking in daylight again.

There's the writerly wisdom I have to share at the end of 2018: it's not all about words. Take care of your body.

Here's a mulberry tree in holiday dress. Joyeuses fêtes et bonne année!

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