The 99 Miles of October

October has been a not ill-used month.

I set myself two challenges, one mental and the other physical. And I arduously died a million writerly agonies over three chapters that needed minor remodeling. I’m finally done with chapters three, four and five, and am onto six and seven–six being mostly grafted on the page now. Knowing me as I now do (writing demands I face myself very frequently and with greater chances of being unmasked), I realize six is still in its nascent stages. It will take on layers, it will be interwoven (very likely) with other threads to unify it more tightly with its cohorts. But that will happen in waves. For now my immediate tasks are to round out six and to unroll seven, which to me is an exciting prospect indeed, as seven is chock-full of thrill and mystery and delight.

I find in writing that when the road is dark and unseen, it’s exhilarating and frightening–so good times are ahead. As much as the unknown is terrifying, there’s something compelling about it, a lure to a danger that is oneself. So chapter seven from here is heady and wild, and although navigating the “how to lay it out” requires consideration and focus, that fire is intoxicating to the writer-moth. It’s when the work of writing is focused exclusively on technical issues (such as my reworking chapters three, four and five this month), that for some reason I myself set mental blocks which can be so crippling to my progress. But I suppose that’s writing–the struggle for the craft to tell one’s story. And the shattering of blocks.

It was partly to develop my fortitude and partly as a form of avoidance that I set myself a mental challenge this month. I’d heard that Noel Coward wrote his play, Private Lives, in four days. So I decided to write a play in four days. Don’t bother telling me this was illogical; logic has its place and its place ain’t here. Anyway, what a lesson in torment! And yet also in harnessing energy, in discipline, in focus, in breaking through patterns of resistance. In desperation.  I can now add Noel Coward to my short pantheon of famous people I resent for what I’ve experienced thanks to them. (The other person is Matthew McConaughey for this reason.) That said, it was useful.  I found myself recognizing a deeper source of stick-to-it-iveness than I’d hitherto called upon.

My other challenge was easier: to walk 100 miles in October. It’s October 31, 6:52am, and I can tell you that I’ve walked 99.3 miles. Just walking to work and back will bring me my desired total.  Naturally, I can’t leave good enough alone. My goal for November is to walk those 100 miles by November 20.

Heaven forfend I sit back and relax.  And now it’s off again, for I have a chapter six to ready for a chapter seven that will blow it out of the water.  I hope all and sundry are well and rocking! 🙂

Ah, and if you’re looking for fun reading, here’s a blog I bumped into during my Four Day Experiment In Self-Torture (also known as “The Play Weekend”). I admit I googled “what possessed me,” I think you can imagine why, and then enjoyed traipsing about the world of this blogger: What Possessed Me.

Painted with Fire - Paalen/Fumage, 1937

another painting by Dao Hai Phong

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About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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3 Responses to The 99 Miles of October

  1. Pingback: Weekend Roundup: October 30-November 5 + Blog Chain « Neither Here nor There….

  2. You totally rocked October!

    That’s my Sputsie! 🙂

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