I remember going to the batting cages for the first time after I had had my growth spurt late in high school. My limbs were unwieldy; my sense of how I extended into space, and how the bat extended from my hands, was suddenly way off. My kinesthetic map had become outdated and, even now, I find that I’m not as spatially aware as I was in fifth grade. Adulthood has, in a way, been a long process of learning to use my body again.
There’s a similar kind of acclamation to each new draft of a manuscript. Every considered, attentive read can be a realignment of the literary homunculus. I’ve written to you in the past that at times I feel like I’m taking months to mow the lawn, that by the time I’m finished the grass where I started has grown long again. This describes how my perception changes as I become more skilled, but I’m more aware now also of how the manuscript itself is embodied, how parts of its flesh can contract or swell, and even the most minor phrases or sentences can effect its reach, movement, and vitality.
It other words, the manuscript body matures like other bodies. And an author must constantly bring her attention back to its sensations; find ways through the present form for natural expression.
That’s the theme this week: Embodiment. I refer to printed pages, which I marked up the week before, and I read and type and print anew what I finished that day and read again, and mark up, so on. I’m slipping back into the manuscript. I’m remembering what this body once felt like, and adapting to its ever-changing character. I’m re-learning how to move, again and again.