julia foulkes

Writing and Walking

This last week has been a rare moment of focus and solitude, huddled in a Writers Colony in the Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas. It has reminded me of Kimerer LaMothe’s admonition: writing (really, thinking) requires moving. That wars with the other truism: writing requires putting your butt in a chair, routinely. There is no muse like persistence.

I believe in both. But sharing the dance background that I do with Kimerer, I think moving more often gets forgotten.

I have been ritualistic about my days: tea, email, and news to wake up; butt-in-chair for a few hours, trying to figure out how to end the West Side Story book; an afternoon walk; back to the chapter for a bit more knockin’ about; dinner with fellow residents; connect to home; reading; to bed. It adds up to a good day, and slowly productive. But it would not be without that walk. Thanks to all the feminist re-thinking of the mind-body separation that has dominated centuries of Western thought, it’s clear that our minds are in our bodies. Athletes think; scientists move. I find that some form of exercise jogs the muscles of the mind as much as those of my legs and arms. I remember a walk from my apartment to the library in graduate school when I harkened upon the primary argument of my dissertation. A bike ride in the park gave me the opening line and theme of the Aims of Education speech I gave at convocation. And, this week, I’ve been taking notes as I walk – jotting down a re-wording, an extra bit of evidence to add, and a link between one section and another. I come back renewed, butt ready.