As an athlete growing up, I was accustomed to hearing coaches telling us (sometimes yelling it) to leave it all on the court. I didn’t fully understand this advice until I was in my mid-20s and working an incredibly hectic and over-whelming job. The office was just a couple of blocks away from a bike trail and I would head over there after work with my rollerblades. That is where the advice from my coach really stuck with me. I left everything on the trail: demanding clients, snooping media, snippy co-workers; it was all left there on that trail. When I would think that I couldn’t go further or faster, I proved myself wrong.
Recently, a new section of a bike trail opened near my house and my trusty skates are seeing the light of day again. It’s been about four years since I’ve done any hard core skating – moving to the suburbs following an accident sidelined me for a while (speaking of leaving it on the trail, an encounter with a rock caused me to leave about half of the epidermis of my left leg on the trail, resulting in the worst case of road rash ever. Thankfully, the helmet prevented it from being much worse).
My first outing was slow, tentative. Muscles that I forgot existed came alive. After only a few minutes, my body was in control and leading the way, allowing my mind to wander like it did all those years ago on the trail. That stressful job is long gone, so instead of mulling over work, my mind went to my WIP.
After the re-read of Pardon Falls, I knew it was far from being in a place where I could even share it with my writers group. There was some big problems with it, but I knew they could be fixed. After talking it through with a couple of friends (thank you Carol and Jayna!), I realized the problem.
I didn’t leave it all on the page. I held back. I didn’t attack the story with gusto and zest, instead, I limped along, barely moving my feet, being afraid of what lie ahead on the trail rather than to zoom towards it fearlessly. Muscle memory from writing Phoenix tried to guide me, but my brain got in the way. I was afraid of falling.
But, falling is part of the ride. I’ve skated since I could walk. The roller rink in my hometown was my weekend babysitter, and any time we went to Dallas I strapped on ice skates and took off like it was no big deal to balance on a razor thin blade. When rollerblades finally made their way to my little corner of Texas, I was the first in line for a pair, sometimes choosing to skate around town in the hot summer than drive my AC-less car. And sure, I fell, sometimes I didn’t just fall, I CRASHED (kids, always wear a helmet because a writer with a brain injury is just someone playing solitaire), but I always picked myself up and let my body take over.
I’m ready to tackle the re-write of Pardon Falls. The first draft was my wobbly attempt at remembering how to write a story fresh. But once I let muscle memory take over, it will be a skate in the park. I hope …