One of my summer project is swimming.  I’m not exactly sure why, as I’m not a fan of swimming. I don’t love the transition from being dry to being wet. I hate getting in cold water. I don’t mind getting in a hot bath in the winter, but dread getting out, having the air hitting my wet skin.  Nevertheless, I have made the decision. The pool I go to is housed in the Physical Education Building–a strange old building rumored to be destined for demolition in the near future. Along with the pool it houses ROTC offices, and strangely, the business office for the College so that I pass a view of the pool when I go to pick up checks from our business officer.  The view is different from inside. After I do a few laps and am out of breath I will switch to backstroke, listening to my Darth Vader breath as I look up at the  skylights and the rafters through blurry goggles.  Occasionally I’ll  see birds flying,  perching on the beams.

The pool at PED is open to staff and students only one hour a day, between 12:30 and 1:30PM.  The limited access time cuts down on decision fatigue.  I can’t tell myself that I’ll go at the end of the day, or the next morning, I have to go at the designated hour, and that’s that. I go on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Sunday nights I start dreading it a little. The dread increases as I pack my bag on Monday night.   But at 12:30, when I pick up my bag from under my desk and march over to the pool building, it’s like the action is somehow separate from me. Left, right, left, right–my feet take me there.  I put on my suit, my cap, my goggles, and march out to the pool.  The surface of the water is a couple of feet down from the area around the pool, so there’s no way to comfortably just dip a toe in to test the temperature. I step off the edge and drop into the water.

And once I’ve done it, it’s not that bad.  The water isn’t too cold.  My cap keeps my hair from getting so wet.  My goggles are water-tight –something I can never remember from childhood–and so my eyes aren’t red and chlorine-y.   My deal with myself is that I only have  to get in the water and do a couple of laps, but often enough I put in twenty or thirty minutes.  After I’m done I have that special I’ve-worked-out feeling that comes from swimming, and by the time I get home I’m incredible sleepy.

I’m trying to apply the same compartmentalized rigor to a script I’m working on that I never want to write–despite the fact that I want to write it! My inner resistance is strong enough that I’ve lowered the bar for the project to one hour a day.  For one hour I have to sit at the computer with the project open. I can read through the script, I can do prep and character worksheets, I can write shitty scenes (giving myself permission for the scenes to be shitty is key,  since any requirements that anything be good would be enough to torpedo the whole delicate balance of my psyche. It is painstaking so far, but it is starting to work I think.  I’m not to the point where I sit for an hour and think it would be painless to stay with it for two or three more–the writing equivalent of a hundred laps–but at least I’m getting in the pool.