Week three, day four of the A to Z Blog Challenge: Poses, as in yoga, also known as Asanas, and connected to writing here.
This post revisits the hold-the-pose concept on which I based A to Z: H (for Hold). There I advocated holding the writing pose — the actual act of writing — and keeping the pen moving across the page or the fingers tapping on the keyboard through the point at which you think you’re finished, not once or twice, but three full times. This is one way to approach holding the pose. This time, though, I’m offering a different way to hold the pose — a kind of challenge to a statement from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. As he travels upriver on his steamboat, making his way through the fog, the narrator observes, “to keep the eyes so long on one thing was too much for human patience.” I disagree. I think that the practice of keeping the eyes on one thing need not be too much for human patience and that the practice of it strengthens writing. Certainly, writing can sometimes feel like traveling upstream in a foreign landscape in the fog. Keep your eyes open, and your ears and all your other senses for that matter, and the fog will eventually lift. Yes, holding the pose in this way — keenly observing for a length of time — can test the limits of patience; can bring up all the same feelings of frustration that I mentioned in the earlier Hold the Pose entry. Patience is a muscle, though, as is observation. Developing these complementary muscles is a worthwhile practice, and not just for writing. Holding the pose here — observing deeply — strengthens our abilities to see and hear and feel the object of our observation in a variety of ways and so to be better able to capture that object on the page in such a way as to engage readers meaningfully. So, while the practice of keeping the eyes so long on one thing may be too much for the patience of those navigating the Congo in a steamboat, it should be part of the regular practice for both writers and yogis.
Keep your eyes, ears, hands, heart focused.
Hold the pose.