When I use the app MapMyWalk for my daily walk, I love it because it says I climbed stairs rather than walked my 2 miles. The reason being I live in a very steep neighborhood. And my daily haul is nearly all uphill. So, stair climbing it is.
And I realized as I was huffing and puffing up the first hill, that my walk was a lot like writing a book. One step at a time, one page at a time. Some days the writing is level and I churn right along. Other days it is like trying to hike up what is affectionately known in our ‘hood, as “Goat Hill.” Because only a mountain goat would want to climb it.
Yeah, there are writing days like that. Where you bang your head on the keyboard, furiously and laboriously write and then toss it all out a few hours later as crap.
Crap. Crap. Double crap.
As I get to the second hill, I curse my weight, burdening me down, slowing me down, but at the same time, know that every step is helping me along in leaving it behind. In writing, that extra weight, that burden can be an internal editor nagging that those pages are horrible, that idea is so flawed. That we should just turn around and give up.
But about the point where I get to the top of that hard, long hill, the Olympics break out over Puget Sound (on a sunny day) and I pause for the merest of moments to revel in the beauty. Listen to the birds. Then I turn the corner and continue onward in my daily exploration of my neighborhood and my latest project.
Writing, like my walk, is a daily reminder of all that is familiar and then totally surprising. Like the sudden appearance of daffodils poking out of the cold dirt. That house on the corner that I realize has been painted. The character moving through the scene just as I envisioned and then the hook that comes to me at the end of the scene that I’d never imagined.
When I walk, I do so without headphones, without my phone stuffed in one ear. I trod along alone, with my jangled mish-mash of thoughts for company. I let them be punctuated by the caws of the crows on the power lines, the rakish squawk of a Stellar’s jay, and the merry peeps of black-capped Chickadees in the bare branches. The unexpected barking of a dog might wrench me out of a bothersome, peevish reverie and thankfully send my ideas in a new direction.
And when I get home, invariably I grab up my notebook and pencil and dash off at least a page or so of notes. And the other day as I watched one of the neighborhood bald eagles high overhead and drifting by on a breeze that only those with wings would ever feel, I let go of all the things that left me grounded and stuck and soared a bit along with him.