For the first month or so of the million-word year, I crashed through the wordy underbrush. Drafts flew from my fingers and soon crumpled into virtual wastebaskets. Nothing was all that good, but I moved too quickly to see it.
Amidst that frantic pace, I learned to fox-walk, something one of my characters can do adeptly. Fox-walking is a technique for walking silently, often used in a natural setting to avoid disturbing wildlife.
I quickly found out that fox-walking is very, very hard. The movement of the foot is simple enough, but it requires a great degree of grace and balance. The essence is that you stand with your weight on one foot, while the other tentatively finds a perfect place on the ground. And then you move forward.
When I did it, I moved agonizingly slowly. Across a room could take five minutes. Down the block, maybe twenty. I got a lot of very strange looks as I carefully made my way around the neighborhood. They probably thought I was going mad. I should have told them I was just making art, but it might come to the same thing anyway.
However crazy I might have seemed, or been, the fox walking was itself helpful. I could only imagine the grace of a person who, like my character, has been doing this for thirteen years. As I moved slowly across the sidewalk, taking deep, slow breaths so as to remain silent, some of the chaos cleared.
In time, I built a core of a story to balance on, while stepping forward lightly to test new fragments and ideas. To wrap this metaphor up with a very tidy bow, it was like fox-walking. It was hard. It was agonizingly slow. People thought I was mad. But if I watched carefully, sometimes I could catch something really beautiful, like a woman moving silently through the mountains might come close enough to see the shine on a bald eagle’s feathers.
If you’re interested in learning to fox-walk, I’ve got a few links below.
Many thanks to A. Omer Karamollaoglu for the beautiful image.