For Friday, January 29, 2016:
“When anything important has to be written … I think your hand concentrates for you.”
Rebecca West – The Paris Review, Spring 1981
In yesterday’s post, I noted that I had hit a wall as I work on revisions of the second draft of my novel-in-progress. A few hours later, however, the wall started to crumble.
I’m working on a hard copy for this part of the process, which means I make changes, corrections, additions by hand rather than on-screen. More than that, I’m doing most of them with my non-dominant hand (look for one of my earliest blog posts, ‘Handy Work,’ for a full explanation of this exercise ***). And yesterday my hand just kind of took over, for almost three pages’ worth.
Without looking at the specific works, I can remember almost every time my hand has concentrated for me, including my first poem at six years old and portions of my first novel. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the feeling is remarkable. Sometimes I’m not even aware of the words in my head (especially that time when they were generated by painkillers, which is a story in itself), but somehow they appear on the paper as if by magic. Those are the pieces that I read later and think, Did I really write that? Where did that come from? It’s so good!
Most of the works I can think of when such magic happened occurred before I thought up the non-dominant hand exercise, but I’m sure that’s what helped the words appear yesterday. I had no clue how to traverse that wall, but, word by word, the way became clear. Soon the wall itself began to disappear before my hand could get there.
Then the characters showed up in force, nudged me up and over, and showed me the way forward. It doesn’t get much better than that – and I’m glad my hand had the good sense to take over and concentrate for me!
*** I apologize that I can’t provide an internal link to the post itself. I used to be able to do that, but I haven’t figured out how to do so with this newer-to-me version of WordPress. If anyone knows how, do please send me a message. Thanks so much!