Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Battling the Paradox

Sitting typing isn’t what we evolved to do, no matter how rewarding it might be. At your desk and/or away from it, how do you counteract the physical toll a writing life takes on your body?

From Frank

It's quite the paradox, isn't it? We write about action (at least some of the time) while sitting on our backsides. Only our fingers and our brains are getting any kind of workout, but it is only our bums that get sore...

I've done a few things over the years to combat the dangers of this. The first real brush with death I had was shortly after I retired from law enforcement and started writing full time. The amount of concentrated typing I was doing for long periods went up dramatically and all of a sudden, the tendons in my hand hurt.

I asked my friend Jill about it. She said, "Stop! Immediately buy an ergonomic keyboard, and stop typing on your laptop everyday for hours and hours!" [Yes, she did employ exclamation marks in that directive].

I listened. I was used to an ergonomic keyboard at work so the transition was easy. But I hadn't thought I'd need it at home. Even though I'd been writing seriously for a decade at this point, my typing marathons were intermittent enough that I hadn't encountered the spectre of carpel-tunnel syndrom. 

Thanks, Jill. I still use that same keyboard to this day. Except now it's kinda gross. I guess I should clean it sometimes, huh? 

The other major danger that lurked in the shadows is that writing makes for a sedentary work life. I dealt with this one by getting fat. It was surprisingly easy.

Then I decided that was a bad approach for a variety of reasons, so Kristi and I hit the gym. Our health insurance entitled us to a fifty-percent discount at the local gym, so that was great. We're saving money already. We lifted weights there, starting at the machines and gravitating into the free weights for many of the exercises. Sometimes we did cardio there, but for the most part, biking, walking, and kayaking was much more fun, so mostly we just lifted. 

Oh, and they had a heavy bag! Most gyms don't. And if they do, the bag sucks. Even the police gym, for the longest time, had this bag that was hard as concrete at the bottom third and slack as an empty feed bag for the top two thirds. People who didn't know it was a trap and decided to throw a low kick at full blast got an unpleasant surprise. 

But not this one. It was sweet. Padded, perfect bliss. So we bought some hand wraps and bag gloves. Mine are red, Kristi's are pink. I got to pummel the bag, throwing combinations I haven't ripped out in years. Felt goooooood.  And I taught Kristi how to punch, how to maintain good form, how to throw combos. She took to it naturally and now she's a bad ass puncher. Seriously. I'd post the video I took to prove it but the thing is, she's about three times as good now as she was then and basically would kick my ass. Here's a generic pic for you instead.

I loved getting back into the gym. Felt great, got strong, muscles reappeared, mister fat started hiding his face in shame... loved it. We worked out together probably half the time and it was a great way to spend some time doing something as a couple.

Then Covid hit. Bye-bye gym (except for a brief few weeks when it looked like it might safely open up again), and hello fat butt on chair.

It took a while to recover from that before I realized, "Hmmm, mister fat seems to have moved from crashing on the couch and into one of the spare bedrooms... seems like he plans on staying a while..." 

So I started taking walks again. Not short little half-mile strolls but going 3 or 4 miles, building up until I average 5-7 miles a day probably nine out of ten days. That's probably nothing for some folks, but it's been good for me. Oh, and I started eating way better, too. Thank Kristi for spearheading that operation with her own choices.

Between the two, I'm down some poundage. I feel better, look better, and don't worry about my time in the chair as much. Next step is to incorporate breaks every 60-90 minutes and to do some strength and stretching exercises during those breaks... leading quickly to starting to do yoga again (why did I ever quit - that's what I wonder).

The good news is that I'll be fully vaccinated by the end of April, so I can get into the gym again. Hello, punching bag - please still be hanging there! We want to pummel you.


Blatant Self Promotion (with some other author's being promoted, too!)

I'm part of a cool anthology coming out in May, along with some names you may recognize.

The Eviction of Hope is the creation of my sometimes collaborator, Colin Conway. I'll let him describe what it's about:

It’s eviction day for The Hope Apartments. The residents have known about it for over a year. It’s too bad they ignored all the warning signs.

More than a century ago, developer Elijah Hope constructed a state-of-the-art hotel. As the generations passed and tastes changed, The Hope spent two decades as an underutilized office building before conversion into a low-income housing project.

Rundown by years of human occupation, The Hope has become a hollow shell of its once great self. It is home to drug addicts, petty criminals, and those hiding from others. The city has long turned a blind eye to The Hope as surrounding neighborhoods gentrified and pushed their disaffected in its direction.

But now The Hope is preparing a return to its original glory. The current owners plan to convert it into a boutique hotel. The only thing standing in their way is the eviction of over one hundred units.

Each resident knew this fateful day was coming, yet most chose to believe it would never arrive. They ignored the posted signs, the hand-delivered warnings, and even the actual notices.

Many stayed until the bitter end.

These are their stories.

My contribution to this anthology is “The Rumor in 411,” a story of loyalty and the power of rumors. 

The Eviction of Hope is already available for pre-order at a reduced price of .99 cents (regular price will be somewhere in the $5.99 range, I imagine). 


Catriona McPherson said...

"I dealt with a sedentary life by getting fat" LOLOLOLOL, Frank!

Frank Zafiro said...

I mean, on the positive side, it worked...

Susan C Shea said...

Echoing the sound of Catriona laughing! Good one, Frank! Sounds as though we're all having our days of reckoning. Mine without the assistance of a punching bag or a supportive spouse.