Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Being a Writer Is Like Falling Down a Lot

I had a tendency my whole life to stumble and fall. Literally. Always compensating for my bad knees, I'd crash to the ground after stepping wrong on a pebble, rather than risk throwing my knee out (as I called it back then).

The first serious knee incident came in 7th grade when I brazenly challenged the 7th and 8th grade boys at high jump. I beat 'em all, by golly, but on that last leap over the bar, I twisted my knee as I landed. It makes me wince even now, many, many, many years later.

In high school, I was stupid enough to try out for the 50-yard dash in track and field. Three steps and I was down, clutching my knee.

As an adult, I was knee-bumped from behind by a playful adult male (don't you just love playful adult males?), whereupon I crashed into a group of nearby bicycles and ended up scratched and bruised and unable to walk for a week.

Over the years, I learned to avoid the quick weight change, lunge, or twist to regain my balance after a misstep. My body preferred to hit the ground and spread the pain over a broader area. I carried a stack of books into the library in Muncie, Indiana, but crashed to the pavement when I stepped sideways on a small pine cone. In Maastricht, Holland, my foot landed in a worn groove on ancient stairs in a park, and I performed a dandy "tuck and roll" as I fell down the remaining three steps, careful to protect my camera. In the south of France, I walked along a path between two hunky guys, and boom. I was down before they had time to react.

I did have repair surgery on both knees in the late 80s, which eliminated the pain problem for several years. It didn't stop me from falling, though. Old habits are very hard to break.

One Sunday morning here in Colorado, I walked a three-mile hike at a brisk pace, caught my toe in a raised section of sidewalk in a small strip mall, and fell face foward on the cement. Luckily I did not hit my head or I might not be writing this post today. I think that was the day I finally realized I had to be more careful, that I had to focus on where I was going. Some of us are slow learners.

This post is about the ability to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again (song lyrics again -- will it ever stop?). And it's about focusing on where you're going. Writers have to do these things. We fall down a lot.


irishoma said...

Hi Patricia,
Thanks for the inspiring post.

Jemi Fraser said...

lol :) I have a very similar history - although mine is more ankles than knees. I have added knee problems into the mix in recent years just for fun!

Good luck!

Mason Canyon said...

OMG, I didn't know there was anyone else that hit their knees as much as I do. I seem to stumble over the smallest pebble sometimes. LOL. Great post.

Ann said...

You have had a right ole time of it falling all about the place.

On a serious note, glad you weren't hurt with your latest fall.

I feel out of a double decker bus once. Sort of pushed from behind. Very painful to the body and the ego!

Jan Morrison said...

yep, we do fall down a lot. I'm thinking that I'll invent a sort of huge puffy suit for the aged. It is one thing to fall down in our youth but it is getting mighty dangerous now! I fall down a lot in my writing too and I do remember to get up, dust off the woofies and fly back at er!

Kay said...

I think your comments apply to whatever one does. You know: the "If at first you don't succeed..." bit.

Ann Elle Altman said...

I agree and because writing is such hard work filled with rejection and criticism. Great reminder.


arlee bird said...

And that what life is all about, but so much more a writer's.
By the way I like what you said on Jane's blog about if you don't have anything to write about, write anyway. My philosophy exactly. It helps you keep in shape for falling and picking yourself back up. That, or running a marathon.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Oh good--someone else like me! I fall down my stairs at least once a month and can't walk through a doorway without hitting the door jamb. Thanks for the reminder to be more careful! And to pick myself back up again.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Marvin D Wilson said...

Great analogy, Pat. I don't fall (physically) a lot, but there is also overexertion, overindulgence, sloppiness, those sort of things, that hinder the physicall well being and must be taken care of with control just as with our writing careers, hmm?

Good post.

The Old Silly

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Its funny how giving up is easier than dusting yourself off. It's not as rewarding though. I'd be having a talk to those knees about a little support. Good post.