A Writer On Practice

You can dig a hole in a cemetery but that doesn’t mean you’re a grave-digger. 

Maybe read that again…

You can dig a hole in a cemetery but that doesn’t mean you’re a grave-digger.

It’s okay, I had to read to read it twice, too, when I came across it in “Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing” by Margaret Atwood. It was a Christmas present I’m late getting around to reading. It’s been on the nightstand with the next installment of “Outlander” I have assigned myself to read. Be very impressed I didn’t pick up “Outlander” first. I can’t wait to find out what’s happening with Jamie and Claire…

Do you give yourself reading assignments? Furthermore, do you give yourself writing assignments?

I do both. Currently, I am reading my writing assignment to see what in the hell was going on. If I lose a little momentum in a piece of work more than a couple thousand words long, I have to go back and be reminded of what happened. Perhaps this is why Stephen King’s main instruction for wannabe writers is writing equals ass in chair. It’s gotta be a daily practice or you lose your place. Excuses abound, of course; I had to get my hair colored, I sprained my butt, the air-conditioner isn’t working, the cat was mad at me.

Still, writing equals ass in chair. For more sound advice on the path of penning books read “On Writing” my Stephen King.

If I don’t write every day it’s the equivalent of digging little potholes in the backyard. Dig a little bit here, root a little over there. If you’re gonna dig a grave you’re got to mean business. Stay in the same place and remain focused until at least six feet have gone by.

I was eating dinner with Atwood’s book on the table. I peered at its cover, which doesn’t look anything like the title implies. Certainly, from the prim lady on the cover holding what looks like a teacup and saucer in her orchid white fingers, you wouldn’t expect her to be talking about digging graves in the first chapter.

I am always intrigued by the parallels between writing and yoga practice, and this is just one more enchanting example of how they have so very much in common. When I looked to this book over dinner I considered how the very Lord of Yoga Himself is often associated with cremation grounds and Himself lays out like a corpse beneath the feet of the Goddess of Transformation, Mother Kali.

Even without getting into the rich symbolism behind the funeral pyre and Shiva’s fiery dance, the importance of staying the course, digging deep and remaining devoted belong to both yoga and writing.

For the moment, let’s even exclude asana, the practice of postures most people think of when yoga practice comes to mind. You know, as far as yoga goes, there are many avenues down which the yogi might experience union with their highest Self. Downward dog is but one of many paths.

And actually, this is such excellent advice for whatever it is you wish to give your life over to. On the path you may be inspired and discouraged in equal measure. You might think that you’ve been wrong and be proven right.

But Elvis Presley said, “When things go wrong, don’t go with ’em.”

In which case, you keep digging.

I’d like to know what kind of hole you’ve dug for yourself and how you’re doing with it.

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