Monday, August 24, 2009

When I am not writing....

I hit stuff. Which is fun. But I like it better when they let me in the ring with actual people. I have fallen in love with a leather punching bag and sit ups. I even accept the push ups and and other torturous ab work. Cause I fell in love with boxing.
Yes, boxing. In a real gym with real sweat and real gloves on. So far there hasn't been any real blood. But I am waiting...
Hopefully I will have my first fight later this year. I can't wait. I am serious. I find the sport a massive stress release, which is ironic being that if you're focus drifts and your head isn't in the game you may very well find that, um... your head gets knocked off. Boxing kinda wakes you up. So perhaps it is not going to be every one's idea of relaxing:) But the training is awesome for fitness and strength... and it is a thinking sport (yes, you have to think, it's not just 'beat crap out of opponent') ...all the more reason to keep you head connected.

I heard somewhere that it's what writers do when they are not writing that brings life to our words. 

I am not thinking about writing when I am in that gym. Surprisingly. I am thinking about hitting before being hit. I am thinking about rounding my shoulders, protecting my face and watching for the breathe of a moment when my partner lets his or her hand lower. I am watching the twitches that give away my opponents intentions before the punch is thrown. I am noticing which hand she favors and which punch combinations she uses. 

In training I am wondering if I am going to survive another lap jogging around the gym floor, another twenty push ups or if I have any more energy left to put into speed work on the bag at the end of a session.

And if that's all I thought about I'd never come back.
It's not the boxing. Okay, it is, but it's also about the people. Isn't is always about the people?

I am laughing with the guy who wears a shirt that says, "I don't do anger management classes." And hoping I don't get paired with him.
I am silently cheering for the overweight dude who manages to survive every session and comes back for more. I want to hold his boxing bag for him while he punches and tell him I think he can do it.
I am smiling as I read the quote of the day on the white board just above our training schedules that says, "When you're going through hell keep going."

I wonder how Ali felt hitting white boys in the ring. I am imagining my own villains, and wondering what ghosts my sparing partner Steven is hitting out at when his eyes are drawn together and he is clearly somewhere else. We are all there for our own reasons. 

And I am wondering how it is that my female coach with chocolate black skin has a name like Vanilla. She is five foot tall on a good day, but hits like a Mac truck. The Power of One said it first and I'll say it again, 'Little' can beat 'Big'. There is nothing too sugary or sweet about that woman in the ring. Yet she greets me with a bear hug every time I arrive.

Dave shaved his head recently revealing a nice scar down one side of his scalp. But he his fierce proud of his newbie fighters. He has never once made me feel like a beginner, even when that's exactly what I was. Even when I tangled the wraps around my hands after being shown a million times how to do it properly. Even when I hit myself in the head defending a punch.
He laughed with me when a beautiful left hook that I aimed at my boxing bag completely missed.
And he welcomes my six-year old son in the gym every Saturday morning to watch and never tires of his endless questions.

I guess I am finding that writing lives outside my office, away from the computer. Because when I get back to the screen I discover I have things to add. Not necessarily about my gym, although I am sure there are some interesting stories begging to be told, but because I have stepped away, lived, breathed, and done something else for myself, I have more to give.

Even if it's just stamina to sit another couple of hours and type.

What about you? 
What do you do when you step away from the world of writing? Does it 'add' to the words when you return?


  1. This post sucked me right in! I really enjoyed hearing about boxing and the people you've met there. It seems so out of my world--I can't imagine boxing! I'll bet you have six-pack abs, too!

  2. For me it's walking in the forest, training my dogs and training people to train their dogs.

    Like you say, the words you write might not appear to have anything to do with your writing on the surface, but those things make a big difference in the end.

    I remember walking through the forest one day in a hail storm and watching the way the tips of the tree's turned black against the stormy sky. That's in my current work in progress. It's the little observations that flesh out a story.

  3. Wow, boxing!! That's amazing. I found you through Jody's blog, Tabitha. Right now I'm stretching my abilities by blogging and walking on my treadmill--that's my kind of exercise. Sorry, I just don't have your stamina, but wish I did!!

    You've hit on a huge point here. We do need total release from writing to rebuild and refresh us for the next writing session. The old saying a break is as good as a rest is so true. It totally rejuvenates us to get writing out of our heads for a while. I discovered that while vacationing at the cottage a few weeks ago!

  4. Oh my gosh! You box? Wow, consider me in awe, and a teensy bit of fear. LOL

    I read. Always read. :-) But I like sports or cards too.

  5. One of the things I love about the internet and connecting with other bloggers is how different we all are, yet we share the writing thing. Boxing is so far out of my world, but I love hearing about the part it plays in yours, Tabitha. Wish I had your energy and stamina and physical ability.
    For me, I folkdance, play guitar, sing in a trio at retirement communities, hike, and hang with friends. Have to get away from the writing. And yes, those other things add richness to the writing, even if they are not specifically mentioned, because they add to "me."

  6. This is a great post! Boxing? I'm amazed. You made a good point. We have to experience life to be able to write. I go for walks to get my energy back up after long stretches of writing.

  7. Absolutely. I've found exercise actually helps my writing a lot. Somebody said it's because I get the blood pumping, which increases oxygen to the brain. But I've found when I'm struggling with an idea, just putting headphones on and piping music into my ears, then heading out on a long walk, can do wonders to clear my head and get me thinking better.

  8. Well written! Boxing, huh? Please keep us aprised of your first fight we want to know how it all goes down! That fascinates me. When I'm not writing I'm with the kids or doing chores. Boring ole me has no other passion, perhaps other than God.

  9. Great post. I don't know much about boxing and you made it so interesting. Away from writing I like to take walks, read a lot, play or listen to music. I like to travel as well.

    I definitely agree that time away from writing helps form who we are and makes our writing more interesting.

  10. I may not always think about my story while I'm out living life, but somehow it still enriches me and gives more life and breath to my stories!

  11. Love this post. When I'm not writing, I'm reading or being with friends/family or doing school work. Nothing nearly as cool as boxing.

  12. Thanks Jill, I am working on the abs:)

    Wendy, that's true. Little observations add rich detail. I could picture myself in that forest.

    Hi Eileen, thanks for checking me out. Glad to have you over here:) That vacation sounds wonderful.

    Jess, reading is good:) I love to read. I just like hitting stuff more.

    Karen, I'd love to learn the guitar. Maybe one day...

    Lazy writer, long walks:)

    Steph, yes blood to brain is a very good thing for writing:)

    T.Anne. I am pretty passionate about Him too.

    Cindy, thanks. I couldn't live without music.

    Jody, Yeah, I like the way you put that.

    Sarah, thanks. Nice to have you here. School work? Oh, I don't miss that!

  13. Did I ever tell you that my brother is a fighter too? He doesn't box - he does MMA, ultimate fighting stuff. Anyway, when I'm not writing I'm teaching, which doesn't bring a whole lot to my writing. But spending time with my family does.

  14. You know that is a fantastic question! For me it really depends on what I am doing outside of my office. For example right now I am at this painting job and it is one of the most mindless things for me to just cut a line and sing along to some tunes all day. But because of the particular type of physical exertion it is I am feeling less connected to anything as each day passes. If however the outside activity is travel I never lack for inspiration.

    Good news is my annual week long beach vacation is coming up in a couple weeks & painting is wrapping up this weekend so it should all start to come back around again.

    Boxing sounds like quite a lot of effort but a satisfying way to spend an evening none the less!

  15. I must remember not to annoy you.

  16. Yes Gary, you just remember that :)

    Jenn, travel will do it for me every time. That beach vacation sounds wonderful.

    Katie, MMA sounds unreal. Maybe teaching brings more to you writing than you think? After all, we teachers rock :) Spending time with the fam is the best.