Progress for Progress’ Sake

Sam,

This post is not an expression of my vanity but an attempt to exhibit my experience and struggles with getting in shape to those who want to make a fresh start to their body and their life. It doesn’t have to be New Year’s to warrant a new beginning.

Four years ago I started my weight training regimen. It was not just a pledge to forging a healthy body and to look good; it was a method for me to understand what I could achieve if I put in hard work and persistence. I have applied what I learned in the gym to my writing, my efforts to get published. Art and exercise are not mutually exclusive. I want to be a writer and be in nice shape. I can learn from both. I have been learning from both since 2011. I am no where near finished with either of my endeavors. I kind of hope to never be. This is just another mile marker on the marathon toward greater things.

Before: January 1, 2012          After: July 14, 2015

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Here is my development since freshman year at Appalachian State University. I can comfortably say I have graduated having made quite a few gains to my physic, but more importantly, I have made gains to my writing muscles. I feel as if I have much better handle on my prose than I did when starting out in Creative Writing 101. Though I still suffer from The Old Battle, I know that patience and time will weigh out the doubt and fears of not being any more competent a writer than when I started.

I don’t mind the grueling process of editing, cutting/deleting, and rephrasing words so much anymore; I couldn’t have said that four years ago, when world-building and straight writing were my obsession. I even have taken to planning, drawing out a story’s plot and character paths in order to ensure that project’s consistency, intrigue, and vitality. Something I would before have thought tedious and too binding to a creative spirit I prefer to be un-tethered and adaptable.

I too have let myself be more open to criticism, constructive mind you, and willing to know that, as the saying goes: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ Not to say that every book I write will be as magnificent as Rome. It is merely an admission that a good book takes patience and tenacity. When it starts to get hard, you don’t just put it down and forget about it. Maybe take a break to rest then get back on that horse.

Hmm that sounds an awful lot like me and my buddies at the gym when we want to get stronger! Told you the two were linked.

If I truly love writing, and I do, then I should welcome the opinions and suggestions of not only the inner critic inside but also those outside who wish to help. I, nor you, should take personally their reviews. Believe it or not, your writing is not a total reflection of you. Readers don’t think in that way, especially strangers. So don’t be afraid to express yourself, your beliefs. Most of the time, they won’t even know it’s you expressing them but your characters, and that’s the way it should be. I may sound convinced when writing this, but I still have trouble grappling with this fact. I’m only human.

Nurture and an understanding I won’t get it right the first time are key tools to storytelling. If I want to create a story worthy of a bookshelf, worthy of a reader opening that first page and being able to escape, I cannot give it anything less than my greatest attention. Friends and family may encourage you to write if you’ve stopped or keep going if you’ve hit a block, but, like working out, it’s up to you to fan that fire within and set ablaze your mind and heart with a love for story, the escape, and to then transfer that onto the page and into the minds and hearts of others. It’s a sacred communion of souls unlike any other. For every reader sees a story, even at the slightest degree, differently than another, which makes the bond between author, character, and reader so necessary to life’s progress for the sake of progress. Sustainability for mind and body starts within, nowhere else.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

-The Buddha

Cheers.

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