A Little Self-Reflection

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I’ve noticed a disturbing trend at my gym lately: there are a lot of people taking ‘selfies’ while they work out.

Hang on, let me qualify that. They’re wearing gym gear, they’re in a gym, they’re standing near to gym equipment, but they’re not exactly working out. Really, they’re making a grand pretence at training while they make duck faces and take pictures of themselves in the mirror. I’ve often wondered why guys gel their hair, or women wear makeup and hoop earrings when they go into a large building to sweat, and I can only come to the conclusion that sweating was never their goal.

Out of sheer curiosity, I took my own gym selfie, and you can see how it turned out above. I think I look like a worn-out bag of shit, which is, I think, the general idea when you go to exercise.

I started training at this gym because it is a temple praising the old gods of iron. It is filled with chipped iron plates, has an over abundance of squat racks, and it smells like a combination of rust and aggression. Most of the people (both guys and girls) who show up there are meatheads like me, ranging from the age of 15 to 65 (and that 65 year old guy lifts more than me, I’m not ashamed to say), and they come to train, not to take pictures of themselves. We lift, we sweat, we grunt and occasionally we talk about throwing things at the guy wearing his hat sideways and sneering at himself in the mirror as he snaps away with his i-Phone.

As I’ve discussed before I’m extremely adept at throwing around judgement (you just have to look at the paragraph above to see a glowing example). But I couldn’t help thinking of my free-floating feeling of superiority over the picture snapper when a friend of mine introduced me to someone and said I had been published, and was a writer. I thought, then, about how much writing I’ve done lately, and can I really claim the title anymore?

My work ethic, as far as my writing goes, has been pretty dismal lately. Since my dad died, the well hasn’t exactly been dry, but I’ve had a hard time drawing anything up. I’ve thought about writing. I’ve talked about writing. I’ve made plans to do some writing. But as far as production goes, I’ve had about two thirds of fuck all.

So, I asked myself, am I really a writer, or am I just like that guy making duck faces in the mirror. The more I thought about it, the more I found that I really wanted to be a writer again.

I really had not written anything since my last blog post about writing my Dad’s obituary, and my writing muscles were a little stiff. But I sat down at my lap-top, opened up the story that I’d more or less abandoned, re-read the last half-dozen pages, and then started writing. It was a rough go at first, but it got easier, and those writing muscles started to limber up. I’ve not put down an impressive word count, but I’ve worked on the story almost every day for the last two weeks, even if it was only for fifteen minutes at a time (when you work 12-14 hour shifts, sometimes fifteen minutes is all you can afford, but it’s still better than nothing).

I’ve now got some momentum going, the story is starting to look like something, and I’m feeling really good about it. I feel like I’m actually working at my craft and moving forward. It’s a slow move, but slow is better than not at all.

Being published doesn’t make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer. And I really like being a writer.

For all the people who have showed me love and support over the last two months: You guys rock. For everyone who is struggling just like I am: Remember, you can do this. You just have to get your ass in the chair and get the words down.

As always, thanks for reading.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “A Little Self-Reflection

  1. One friend had to rewrite a fair amount of her novel once her husband recovered from his major health issues. Glad you’re back writing again.

  2. Zan Marie

    Go, Tyner, Go! “Being published doesn’t make you a writer. Writing makes you a writer.” Amen to that, brother. Write on.

  3. This was wonderful to read. I would never take a picture of myself during or post-workout. I’m a sweating, panting, almost 50-year-old mess.

    As for writing. Ahh– our family spent all last year dealing with my son’s fight with cancer (he won!) but I’ve been worn out this year and emotionally exhausted and, like you said so well, just unable to find the gumption to get writing again. So much so that, like you, I hesitate to call myself a writer anymore. Thank you for the encouragement to get back to it.

  4. susanpieters

    Tyner, you hit the nail on the head. Ironically, I’ve exercised more hours this week than I’ve written; an odd reversal for me. I am not an athlete. But then how can I claim to be a writer? So much of my writing life right now is actually editing for others or publishing work, not essential butt-in-chair writing. Thanks for this wake up call. I need some joyous brain-sweat time.

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