I do all of my writing on my computer. Yes, I said in front of my keyboard. Almost everything I’ve read about writing suggests that you write in a notebook with a pen and let the ideas flow that way. Unfortunately, when I let my ideas flow and I write them in a notebook, the writing is almost always indecipherable when I go back later to read them. Not only that, but my thoughts flow better and I transcribe them more smoothly when I write on a keyboard.
My own process is to open up a document and write down my thoughts whenever an idea strikes me. I may write few sentences or I may write hundreds of words. It just depends on how much is there for me to write down. After I’ve written whatever first inspires me, I close the document and move on to something else. I frequently have a list of 20 or more ideas that I’ve started writing about.
Each day when I am ready to write, I scan that list of open ideas and just take a few moments to listen and see if any of them “sing” to me. Sometimes they do and I’ll go in and add thoughts to one I’ve already started, sometimes nothing inspires me and I content myself with writing in my journal. When I get to the point that I feel like something is ready to be posted, I’ll close it up, mark that it’s ready, and then leave it until I’m ready to post something.
I then repeat the process of scanning through the list of documents that I’ve flagged as complete, see which one feels right for that week and then go in and re-read it with fresh eyes. Sometimes it reads well, sometimes it needs editing. Once I consider it REALLY ready, I go ahead and post if for everyone to read.
Using this method, a lot of my writing gets deleted in the editing process. This is the whole point of editing. But, sometimes, the sentences or paragraphs that I have to delete please me and I keep an additional document of deleted writing. I thought I’d share some of those thoughts today. I’m sorting these thoughts by when they were written, but since these are the “outtakes,” so to speak, they do not necessarily flow from one paragraph to the next. Please indulge me.
I love teaching yoga and am so lucky to have learned so much from so many people. When I wrote “Real People, Real Yoga,” in November of 2014, there were so many examples of the interesting people I’m lucky enough to teach, I had to edit quite a bit.
In referring to the stroke survivors I was teaching at the time: Not only are the survivors very literal, they are also uninhibited in their behaviors. When one of the survivors passed gas in the first meditation, it took a good 3-5 minutes for me to talk my way through the giggling. When I explained the Pavlovian theory behind the ringing of the bell, they were fascinated and count on that bell to help with their meditation.
On the normal breakdown of my class: In America today, at least in the Midwest, yoga is seen as something that is done primarily by women. I’ve heard many times that it’s “just stretching.” I am very proud of the fact that I have a strong following of men. My class is consistently 30-50% men and that is an accomplishment in this part of the country.
I am constantly fighting to change how people view yoga: As part of my effort to bring the men in the shelter into the class, I finally recruited my former director at the YMCA to take a class. Those gorgeous big muscles of his had not been trained to be flexible and even though he’d been a running back on a professional football team, his balance hadn’t been worked on for years. He grunted and groaned through the entire class. I wish I could say that struggling through the yoga class had converted him into a true believer and that he now practices yoga regularly. That would be a lie. He left the homeless shelter and they discontinued the yoga classes. The last time I saw him; he was still lifting weights and focusing on growing his muscles. He had quit saying that yoga was just stretching, and I guess that’s progress I can live with.
I also have to fight my own tendency to stereotype people: Working with the homeless was fascinating. Almost every class there would be someone, who couldn’t get in the shelter, sleeping on the street. The people who were in the shelter had phones that I envied. I started to go into judgment about that until I realized that was their only tool for communication.
In May of this year, I wrote “Of Mice and One Scaredy-Cat Woman,” about my fear of mice and all the encounters I’ve had with them. There were so many times those critters have scared me silly, I would’ve written the world’s longest blog post if I’d included all of them.
No mouse amuses me, alive or drawn: I have no love of cartoons starring mice, including the big one who has his own theme parks. I have never understood why mice are portrayed in animation as cute, helpful and smart. Cinderella, Tom and Jerry, Pixie and Dixie, Ratatouille. I had to leave the room when Ratatouille showed the rats swarming the kitchen.
People tell me mice are more afraid of me than I of them. I call bullshit on that: Mice sense my fear and it turns them into tiny bullies. They do not announce themselves when they enter a room. They sneak in on itty, bitty little feet without hardly a sound. Their teeny little paws may make a slight noise, but generally, they only allow themselves to be heard when they become really comfortable in their surroundings.
I will go to any length to keep my home free of uninvited guests: In my efforts to try and discourage any rodent roommates, I do not throw any trash with food on it in the garbage can. Instead, I keep a plastic bag in the freezer that I put all my trash in that might vaguely appeal to any creature with more than two feet.
When we moved into a new house: What we didn’t realize until we’d already moved in was that the house was infested with mice. I mean, literally infested with mice.
In that same house: We realized that the mice were being drawn in by bird seed that was littered throughout the house, so deeply ground into the carpet a vacuum cleaner couldn’t sweep it up. We only began to get an inkling of this when the lovely brick fireplace in the living room went from white to red after being scrubbed with a wire brush. I will let you figure out what turned the bricks white and how it was connected to the free range birds.
I do not remember which post I wrote the next excerpt for, but it’s one I believe strongly: History is written by the victors and we need to delve deep into the history they chose not to write.
Along those same lines: Much of the progress that’s been made in the past has been attributed to whoever had the most control of the written word. As a result, many achievements have been credited to white men while the contributions made by women, people of color, and people whose religious beliefs differed from the majority, have been either deleted from the records or minimized. We are finally starting to uncover some of these people from the mist of the past, but I am deeply saddened when I think of all the brilliant people whose contributions will never be uncovered.
I believe in recycling and I incorporate that idea in both my painting and my writing. I make paintings and collages out of my leftover paint, and now I’m writing a post of my leftover thoughts.
Are all of these sentences brilliant? Nope. But each and every one of them makes me either smile or think about things a little differently. I hope you enjoyed them.