Get your popcorn and settle in for a courtside chat with the mighty Sara Lewis Holmes. Go ahead – do the wave. Get it out of your system and then plant it. You’re not gonna want to miss a word of this. (And when you're finished, head on over to Sara's to read her grill me!)
Ms. Holmes, we know you’re a writer – and a smart one at that, with an always wise and articulate blog -- full of incredible poetry and generosity and humour. And plus, we’ve got a beautiful book here with your name on the cover. But what about your more physical self? For example, do you consider yourself a jock? And if so, have you always, or has that been an evolving identity?
Thanks, Liz. I’m going to remember that lovely introduction the next time I’m feeling like I got my butt kicked. To answer your question, I never considered myself a jock because I didn’t play team sports. But I’ve also never had a time in my life when I wasn’t doing something physically active. I can’t stay away. I may go a week where I don’t do much, but I always come roaring back. I know I was at the gym the day my son was born. Exercise doesn’t seem like a chore to me---more like an expression of gratitude.
And what is your favorite exercise?
I like variety, so my answer to this one changes. I love my outdoor boot camp class (which is on a winter break right now) and my weekly shot of yoga, and the group craziness of spinning. I have also pulled out my boxing gloves again, and I’m doing rounds with both the speed and heavy bags. I would like to find a dance class, if it wasn’t filled with professional dancers. (Once, I went to a gym class in Vegas, and it was FILLED with showgirls. They twirled and glided; I got a headache and a bad case of boob envy.)
So with that array of activity, do you consider yourself fickle or consistent about sport/exercise? And what about your writing practice?
I’m fickle in that I change activities a lot; I’m consistent in that I always find something to keep me moving. The same could be said of my writing. I don’t have a schedule, but I somehow always manage to get the work done.
Does sport energize or exhaust you?
Energizes me, for sure. Although, a nap is often in order after a long workout and a meal.
What do you most love about exercise or athletics?
I love being a student, and my body teaches me something new all the time. After attempting a balance pose in yoga, I discovered tiny muscles in my ankles that I didn’t know I had. When I taught myself how to hit a speed bag, I learned how to ignore the feeling that everybody was laughing at my pathetic attempts. When I took up golf, I found out that I had to make, make, make myself focus on a putt, because no amount of hopeful, feel-good thinking was going to make the ball go in the cup. I love the fact that your body doesn’t lie to you and that it adapts to the demands you make on it. And yes, I love the non-chemical “high.”
(Brief digression here sports fans: 1. This slick looking golfer really truly is our very own Sara Lewis Holmes. I kid you not! and 2. This is the very first time I have ever attempted to insert an image into a blog post because I am ordinarily a scaredy cat!!! Inserting images into a blog post is like an extreme sport for me!!! I am soooo proud!!!!)
Is there anything about exercise that you hate? What about the writing process? Do you do those hateful things anyway?
I hate the first five-ten minutes of a run. I always feel so slow and creaky. In fact, I’m not a good runner at all, but I’ve been doing a lot of it for boot camp, and it’s growing on me. I don’t like being hot, and I hate the way sweat makes my back break out. I also hate the way I want to throw up after doing sprints, and I despise workout pants that are designed for girls with no butts. As for the writing process, I struggle with self-doubt, and with choosing just one thing to focus on. I have a tough time with first drafts, and just have to slog through them.
How do your athletics dovetail with your writing? Do they compliment your efforts or distract you? Do you think about your writing while you play or exercise? Are you aware of your body and movements while you write?
You’d think that all would be wine and roses (or Gatorade and herbal supplements) with me and my writing/athletics. But one conflict I have is that I want to do BOTH in the morning. I’ll get on a tear with my blogging or novel or poetry writing, and the next thing I know, it’s noon, and I’m not enthused about working out alone and there’s no fitness class on the schedule at that time, and it’s too hot (or cold) to run, and blah, blah, blah…I’m skipping my workout for the day. Or the opposite: I’ll get so set into going to certain fitness classes in the morning that I totally blow off any writing work, and then I wonder why no words are appearing on the page. Sometimes, working out seems so much easier and more concrete than dealing with that amorphous first draft.
But mostly, exercising helps my writing by burning off stress, showing me how to think about problems in a fresh way, and by teaching me patience and endurance and focus.
Many people think of writing as a quiet, still, solitary effort, and they picture writers sitting in small rooms wearing big, thick glasses, possibly with a bottle of scotch at their side. Do you think you’re unique as a writer in that you put yourself out there in the world as an active, risk-taking, blood-pumping, lean, mean exercise machine??
I don’t drink Scotch. I do, in fact, own the big, thick glasses. (I prefer wearing contacts, but still…I often don’t bother to put them in until I’ve been writing for hours behind the laughably eye-warping lenses.) But I think that there are many, many writers who incorporate exercise into their writing routines. Walking seems to be the most popular writer-sport. I’m hoping that this co-blogging week will encourage other writers to tell all about their secret non-Scotch-drinking, non-thick-glasses-wearing activities…
And, our agreed-upon wrap up question d’jour, what would you say to those who hate their own bodies and/or hate their own writing?
Laugh a little, perhaps? Do you really want to be perfect? Or do you just want to feel comfortable in your own skin? Your body IS you; it’s not just a shell for your soul or your brain. Yeah, I know that I’m dust, and to dust this body will return. But not even in my wildest writer dreams could I create something as marvelous and infinitely capable as my own body. So give it respect. Respect your writing. It’s where you are now; it’s carrying you along in this world, and so is your body, and that’s one heck of a lot to do every day, each day.
And Sara takes that "heck of a lot to do" very seriously. Amen! Glad you fit us in , Sara -- thanks!
(This post is part of a continuing series on The Exercise of Writing -- here at Liz in Ink and next door at Read Write Believe. Today, for example, I'm interviewed at Sara's place, Sara's interviewed here and there's a bunch of back matter at both blogs. Thanks for joining us. Now sit down -- I can't see the game...)