So a video went around recently of the Portland flame bagpipe player balancing on a ball while he played and it got me to thinking about my childhood. I never managed to walk on a ball because that is like three-dimensional balance, but my dad worked at a hardware store (owned it for a while) and would bring home these spools for cable and rope, and my friends and I would race on them.
|Like this, only smaller (usually--I did use one of these sometimes)|
Outside our driveway was lined with river rock, cemented in to form a jagged spiky barrier between cement and grass, so that too, I would walk, poised on the points—some of them with no reasonable surface, others large enough to stop and make sure my balance was in place. When I reached the fence I'd then traverse that.
|One of these--simple design|
So I'd climb from rocks to the fence, walking on the lower with the upper between my knees for balance, but in some spots either the upper or lower was gone so I needed to balance across. Some of the planks were pretty wobbly in there...
It's not shocking that by junior high the balance beam came naturally to me. In fact for years I prided myself on superior balance. But as I age and my muscles tighten and my weight shifts it doesn't come nearly so easily as it once did.
How Does that Apply to Writing?
I think the practice practice practice lesson is incredibly applicable. If we want to be balanced and poised and not look like a fool sprawled on the floor then we need to keep in practice. Some of us will have more natural balance than others, but we can all do it if we work at it enough. But I think the tight muscles thing applies, too. If you do the SAME THING all the time it will start to pull you out of alignment. So even if you aren't ever going to PUBLISH in another genre, maybe give yourself some fun exercises once in a while.
With that in mind, I've decided I want to, in my “non-writing months” (when I'm editing, which is usually 9 months of the year) I am going to additionally write a short story in an off genre. I may or may not submit these. Probably depends on how they come out. But I really am in need of some regular stretching. That said, after the entry for the Insecure Speculative Anthology, I saw a submission request for WITCH stories. So I think I will try one of those (I have a couple witch ideas in my idea file). The deadline is November 30 if anyone else is interested.
So back on the spool, my friends!
What do all of you do to stay nimble as writers (or whatever your preferred art)?