Not Thinking Without Falling Asleep

A person who meditates seeks clearness of mind, emptiness, the place of not thinking without falling asleep, where, it is said, she can tap into “truth.” To arrive in that place, a meditator must sit, motionless, alert, neither resisting nor concentrating on the intrusion of stray thoughts, letting them flow freely, in and out, like an unencumbered dance.

Which reminds me of an encounter with my friend, a decade ago, when she mentioned she danced ballroom weekly. She said, smiling, “Jackie, you should join me sometime.”

I had worn that same smile, I thought, when I was a teen-ager and told people, “I’m gonna be a Radio City Music Hall Rockette when I grow up.”

The Rockette was a no-show; so I taught high school English; later, I practiced law, never thinking much about the Rockette; I assumed she was dead and buried.

But when I accepted the invitation of my smiling friend, the Rockette arose from the dead and began weekly ballroom, Latin, and swing dance lessons that eventually took her to a dance event in New Orleans, where she met a new dance instructor with whom she studied for almost six years.

During the hundreds of hours of dance lessons, the Rockette concentrated on her frame, on her steps, on her turns. One day, for a time, she danced from her muscle memory, not from concentration. Her body and spirit understood enough that she could clear her mind, turn loose, and dance. It was the equivalent of not thinking without falling asleep.

Truth happens that way in a work of fiction, too—no, not truth in terms of facts being accurate—truth that characters and plot unfold which is applicable to humans and life.

It is very difficult to write fiction. And, actually begins, I think, at the beginning, with the novelist being self-intimate. Having a relationship with her self, regardless of from whence it has come, e.g., being familiar with one’s own “not thinking without falling asleep.”

In 2009, when I began my first novel, I C U, I was a green, unskilled, naïve fiction writer. I’d previously free-lanced non-fiction, and all of my attempts at writing fiction had fizzled out. So, I arm-wrestled I C U’s characters, trying to control them. They balked. I persisted. They outsmarted me. One day I gave up, turned them loose to be who they were and began to write. I let them lead the dance. They knew where the truth was.

Seven years into the writing, the I C U novel manuscript is now complete. I am partnering with a publisher to make I C U available, hopefully, by this summer, in soft cover and e-book. I welcome you as a partner in the publication dance and shall keep you informed in future blogs here on my website, and other outlets, of our progress.

Life 101, Blog 2, March 21, 2016

Copyright Jackie Warren Tatum

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