Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Endings and Hamstrings

There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the most challenging aspects of writing a novel is the ending. In the revision process for Klutzhood, I had to redo the ending three times.

One thing I have discovered, however, is that it’s impossible for me to write towards a pre-planned ending. The best approach for me is to delve into the story, beginning with a situation from which the characters grow. Events unfold, and I have to have confidence that the ending, unknown as I write, will emerge.

Maybe my approach to life should be more like that.

One of my non-writing obsessions is cross-country ski racing. This week, I’m taking part in the Masters World Cup being held at Sovereign Lake, near Vernon, B.C. In my first race– a 30 kilometre skate ski race– everything went as well as I could have hoped. I had a respectable finish with a personal best time.

But in my next race– a 10 kilometre classic race– the proverbial wheels fell off. I fell near the start and pulled my hamstring. I tried to ski on, but by four kilometres, my body started shutting down– a condition I later learned is called vasovagal response. My race, with all its expectations, was done.

Certainly I was greatly disappointed, but then, this episode got me thinking.

Maybe I should approach life more like my writing. Maybe I should drop into the situation and see what outcome emerges, rather than getting all stressed about achieving imagined expectations. Thank you hamstring!

(Photo by Peter Jobbins)

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