Writing Junk Miles

I’m sitting in front of my laptop and not outside running a few extra miles. My body needs rest. I’ve just excised two chapters from my manuscript. These were passages that I thought  were so important at least a year or two ago. These were the chapters that described how my protagonist was feeling while dissecting her life and how she was continuing to work through life’s stuff by developing a deeper relationship with a character that had actually been symbolic. Screech. Halt.

There comes a point when we need to reflect on what we’re actually doing. I’m also at the point of similar reflection when it comes to my physical self. Will running another five miles help or hurt my body? I could stretch it a bit. Feed it something nutritious and discuss my exercise plan with someone who knows what training for a marathon is about. Yes, those things are all important. Mostly, I need to listen to my body. It doesn’t usually steer me wrong. When I haven’t listened to the minor twinges, pings and pulls is when I have gotten into trouble. I’m running a marathon in the fall and, like writing, it can be a long arduous draining process or I can enjoy most of the nuances it will bring. My commitment and discipline are paramount along the way in both my writing and running.

I recently shared a passage I’d written with my daughter. She stopped me as I raced through one part to get to another. As she so astutely pointed out, “if you don’t like it, it shouldn’t be there.” I swelled up my chest and told her that in most books that I’ve read, I’ve had to skim through to get to the good parts. ‘Not good’, I realized, as soon as the words came out of my mouth. Needless to say, that was a turning point in my editing process. To thine own self be true.

When I check in to my inner self, I realize that I don’t need an outside party to tell me to get honest in my writing. I also can’t run every day because a twenty five year old elite runner does. I need to listen quietly and follow the guides who live within me. When I need outside help they tell me. Sometimes I don’t follow the instructions that I’m given. I hit my head against the same wall as I try to make a door where none exists. This hurts until I’ve had enough. I make a right or a left and an opening magically appears. I may do some light weights, walk a mile instead of run five or dream on the changes that are warranted for a current manuscript. It’s then I’ve been true to the process and have dispensed with the junk miles of my life.

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