Papa Hemingway got it right. He stood at his typewriter, placed chest high, and typed out all his works. I sit. Like most writers do. All day, most times. For hours at others. And I type. And type. And feel the spread gradual and insidious taking over the butt, until I have to gently lever myself out of my chair, centimeter by centimeter, or risk rising with the chair attached to my rear like an ironic masquerade costume of sorts. Perhaps it could be a costume. WriterWoman. With electric sparks whizzing out of her fingers and zapping all available word doc formats and the chair stuck to her rear to allow for immediate seating and activation of brain cells when required.
This Writer’s Butt business is real and tangible, let me kid you not, is a professional hazard you should be aware of if you plan, at any point in time, to take to professional writing. Unless of course, you are wholly sensible writers like some of my dear friends, also writers, who do sensible things like exercise, and diet and run and such like to keep posteriors in check and circumferences restricted. I, on the other hand, have no such compunctions to be healthy and fit and therefore must face the consequences of my inability to lever myself out of the chair and pound the pavements or the concrete, as the case might be.
In order that I might inspire myself to get physically active, I even turned, in sheer desperation to Murakami and his wonderful What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I read it thrice over, savoured the wonderful insights, the smooth writing, the accounts of his training and the marathons he’s run. And left it at that.
Given that the only part of my body that gets a real solid workout all day are my fingers, they’re really in excellent shape for 42. Zero fat, all lean muscled and toned. But, I’m thinking practically. Whoever out there thinks that writing is not physically taxing got the memo wrong. It takes will power to stay put in a chair, moving only your eyeballs and your fingers for hours. It also, believe it or not, needs stamina. I notice the days I’m off colour, or feverish or PMSing, or generally under the weather, I cannot sit through the hours I demand of myself to produce the words I demand of myself.
Ergo, it became essential to get myself a fitness plan to tackle, among other things the growing spread that was now muffin topping itself over my staple jeans. Psst, even the so called comfort wear ones. I have long since stopped trying to pat and wriggle my thighs in centimeter by centimeter into the skinny fits, and by god, whoever was it who invented lycra, I need to bow and kiss his ring.
Coming back to the dreaded Writer’s Butt, I dread it more than the dreaded Writer’s Block. The Writer’s Block can be dealt with. The Writer’s Butt is far tougher to deal with. And given that they tell you the best way to deal with Writer’s Block is Butt In Chair, I can see this being a tough, gritty battle ahead if I plan to ever get through turnstiles without needing to be extricated by professional metal cutters.
Seriously though, I’ve been inspired a bit by friends who do gruelling marathons through hostile deserts and even more hostile urban streets. No, I’m not going to run marathons, I’m too much of klutz to run in the building compound without misjudging something and landing with a thud on a delicate part of the anatomy and breaking a paving tile or two in the process. But I can start with putting in some modicum of activity in my daily routine. A ten minute break while I pace around the premises like a caged feline, perhaps. An evening walk, to be conducted in the covered parking lot given that it is the monsoon, and getting drenched to the bone doesn’t quite cut it in terms of work out comfort, never mind that I would need to be nifty about leaping out of the way of zipping cars and doggy poo. Perhaps. A change in diet? Cutting down the caffeine and the comfort foods, no matter how much to drab greyness outside calls for adrakwali chai and pakorey.
All good intentions no doubt, and as the wise man said, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Forget it all. I’m just going to follow Papa Hemingway and put the computer up at a height where I need to stand and type. That could be my only hope.