Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Ovaries of Titanium

Three years ago I traveled to England with a study abroad program led by John Bennion.
When I first heard of the program I knew it was made for me--creative writing, hiking, walking, reading. I soon found out that even the professors were right for me. One windy morning in Keswick, England while waiting for our coach (bus) to arrive John Bennion encouraged us about the hike up Hellvelyn which we'd soon begin. He told us that hiking Hellvelyn takes balls of steel. Being the beautiful feminist man that he is he quickly added that it takes ovaries of titanium to hike this particular peak. Since our group consisted of about 20 women and only 5 men, everyone seemed to like this phrase quite a bit and we were ready to prove that we indeed have ovaries of titanium.

The view from the top of Hellvelyn where we ate lunch and had a dance party

Tina with a waterfall on the way down from Hellvelyn

Me and Clyde atop Hellvelyn with jackets sheltering from the wind

Whitney up to her knees in mud on Hellvelyn

Today I went to a "lady doctor" (otherwise known as a gynecolegist or something...) and I got my ovaries checked out. Even though I already knew from hiking Hellvelyn, it was confirmed that my ovaries are indeed made of titanium (not literally, of course...but I'm damn healthy!).

I've been thinking a lot about writing and titanium and ovaries. How they don't really seem to have anything in common except for one thing: Me. As a writer I think a lot about good writerly habits (something I don't have), but what about good physical habits? I mean exercise and healthy eating. Writing isn't an easy profession by any means. Even if it seems easy to sit at a computer all day making shit up (I got a BA in BS), it's not that simple. The mind doesn't magically have energy and new ideas from sitting on the couch with the laptop and eating cookies. Our brains need brain food--leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, proteins. And it needs a break every now and then from the hum drum of the compter fan. Maybe a hike or a bike ride or a little stroll down town. Maybe a few (eight!) pull-ups on the bar hanging in the doorway.

And then your brain needs some exercises too. Something to jumpstart creativity. Maybe it's a quick little freewrite.

"Think of a powerful emotion you've had in the past week, use it to write a scene about your main character standing on the edge of a cliff (or a tall, windy peak in England)."

"Your main character's best friend just died. How does she react? Show the details of her fingers, her lips, her hair. How does she stand? Does she say anything?"

"What are your main character's fears? goals?"

"What's in your character's pockets?"

OR maybe your brain needs something more challenging?

"Write a 250 scene using only words that start with W"

"Write a novel in six words"

"Write a 250 word scene without using the letter E at all"

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