Buckling Down to Write

As a child, I had stricken with horse fever. Lucky for me, I had access to horses, complete with lessons and a velvet hunt cap. It wasn’t enough to abate the fever; if anything the scent of the horse, the supple leather reins, the melody of hooves on the ground made it more acute. We lived in England and I was 11.

In school, Composition was taught by a wonderful woman named Christine Docker who had hair like Cher, except that it was silver. Her husband had been on university track team with Roger Bannister, the man who broke the four-minute mile. Isn’t it funny what we remember? Anyway, every day she’d write a title on the blackboard and we were to write a story using the title as a prompt.

Every story I wrote featured a horse. Every. Story. Mrs. Docker got creative, and each day’s title would seem to preclude horses: “Marooned on a Desert Island,”  “A Day in London,” “Flying Away,” “Stuck in an Elevator.” I  remember these because, of course, I managed to work a horse (or several) into the plot. One day, she called me up to her desk.

“Larkin,” she said, “you’ve got a real gift for writing.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”


“Yes, Ma’am?”

“No . . .  more . . . horses!” she thundered and the class laughed, and I laughed too. And I did give her a couple of stories that were horse-free.

Yesterday, I moped about having to write about diet and exercise, but since the raison d’être of this very journal is diet and exercise, I really need to just do it.

When I wrote for someone else’s newspaper, I wrote about groundbreaking for new banks and the oldest veteran in the county and school board meetings and really, whatever else I was asked to write about. Sometimes the best stories were the ones I dreaded the most, but there really isn’t a way to make writing about a new bank into something worth reading. And what I really wanted to write about was murder.

In our tiny town of six thousand people there’d been nearly a dozen suspicious deaths in as many years. And I did write about those deaths, for a while. I may write about them again one day.

But this, Twelve Moons,  is not supposed to be about writing. This is supposed to be about diet and exercise. If I want to really write, I need to focus all of that energy on the book. I should take a leaf from William Faulkner, who wrote “Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, to get the book written.” When I write about things other than diet and exercise then I take the pressure off to write about Orville. I can’t allow myself to do that.

Originally this was just going to be a record of what I ate, what I did and perhaps an observation or two. It’s grown beyond that, and while it’s okay that it has a bit more substance that what I originally anticipated, I can’t allow it to siphon off the best of my literary hours.

So, friends, diet and exercise it will be. And food, too, of course. I have drafts for quite a few things just floating around– fat jokes, a treatise on maple, bad dieting advice, the long-promised sex and peaches. We’ll be okay– and if you have something in particular about diet and exercise, or food, that you’d like to talk about, well, for Pete’s sake, do tell.

Today’s target 70  Steps 2552

Breakfast: yogurt with granola. Lunch: tuna with chili pepper, six Ritz crackers, a smore. Dinner: two cups of brussel sprouts, chicken sandwich, slender piece of birthday cake. 


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