According to playwright Harold Pinter the more intense the emotion, the less articulate its expression. Some consolation can be taken from that statement when considering the anxiety of my re-invention. If this expression seems wooly, refer to Mr. Pinter.
I have just begun yet another revision of my novel. For the first time, several queries produced requests for additional material. The result was the same. Now, rather than getting the standard “Does not fit our needs at this time” I am now receiving a few replies that are longer: “As intriguing as your story sounded, we don’t think it fits our agency.” The specific reference to the story is encouraging. It is for this reason we have chosen to take another spin of the story and pursue the more traditional route to publication.
The recent weeks have been tough from a discipline point of view. The newness of the discipline wears off and the fortitude required to make the new behavior a habit can wane. This mornings exercise routine was a mile swim. Thirty lengths into the 106 length swim I was struggling to maintain focus. I thought of all the reasons- compelling reasons- to push onwards; they were not making the required impact.
Turning to another trick of the mind, I focused my attention on the stroke. I concentrated on trying to maintain the most efficient stroke possible, i.e. maximum efficiency of movement with no wasted motion or incomplete motion. Short-strokes are not efficient; they are weak. Very shortly, I found myself tapping into a renewed energy from my more efficient swimming. Essentially, I guess, my focus was on form and the proper content followed suit. I had allowed my focus to become wooly, if you will.
Old behavior can be difficult to modify. Removing them from the hard drive can be as frustrating as auto-spell on my phone that will not allow me to spell a word it does not recognize. The phone becomes a bully, refusing to cooperate. The same occurs, or can occur, when modifying our behavior. The re-focus on form enabled me to finish the workout and the resulting content- an invigorating one hour workout- was attained.
It is now time to bring the best of me to this manuscript, remembering also the Elephants in the tropics – a three dimensional carving from a single piece of wood. I need to bring as much attention, focus, and determination to this new re-write as demonstrated by that remarkable craftsman. It all starts with craft and our individual voice elevates it to art. Without the craft, art has little chance. Without the proper stroke, I had little chance of completing my workout.
Old habits can indeed be a ‘wooly bully’ pushing us to return to the known, not necessarily the comfortable. What we knew before is known and therefore comfortable. It is in the uncomfortable that we gain strength and new skill.
Reject the Wooly Bully and happy writing.