Losing: Transformation

Often we lose things we really, really don’t want to lose. Whether its our keys, wallets, cell phones, or favorite sweaters, we humans rarely enjoy losing things. Sometimes, though, we do look forward to loss; as Mary Sutton explained earlier this month, losing our fear can be a really good thing. But, by losing, we can achieve something else entirely, something not necessarily good or bad:

Transformation.

Stay with me on this. I’ve been trying to develop some new habits, particularly to fit regular exercise into my routine (as a result of getting ever closer to that mid-point between 40 and 50, when everything biological seems to go haywire). To help me with this, I joined an online program called the 12 Week Total Body Transformation. I’ve failed miserably at this program (mostly because, I think, the only time I can exercise is 5:30 a.m. and “Pamela” will never be found near “morning person” in any dictionary). The idea is that participants will reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise, lose weight, and build muscle, the combination of which will transform our bodies into something more preferable, stronger, leaner, healthier.

The idea of transformation is so appealing! Caterpillars transform into butterflies, seeds into plants, and so on. But, the caterpillar loses the privilege of being one in order to become a butterfly, right? It loses that which makes it a caterpillar in order to become the butterfly.

As a writer, the act of losing things can transform my story into something better, worse, or simply different. The losing, in and of itself, carries no inherent shine or dullness; what matters is what I choose to lose, and how. For instance, perhaps my story is bogged down by too many details. I’ve lost momentum or clarity, and by losing a few extraneous elements, the story is made stronger, clearer, better than it was before. If I lose the ghosts in the graveyard, the story moves from paranormal thriller to thriller; not better or worse, just different. Perhaps I snip a plot line, and my writers’ group cries foul and insists I put it back, as I’ve ruined the relationship between two key characters, and spoiled the story.

The losses may be painful (“but I love those ghosts!”) or not (“oh, thank goodness I don’t have to learn any more about taxidermy”), but each loss has the potential to transform my work. If I’m thoughtful about it, those losses will result in a much better story.

Now, if only transforming the body by losing a few inches was as easy!

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Author: Pamela A. Oberg

Pamela is a portfolio manager at an educational assessment company by day, writer by night. Founder of Writers on Words (a discussion and critique group), Pamela enjoys spinning tales of murder and mayhem, with an occasional foray into the world of the paranormal.

8 thoughts on “Losing: Transformation”

  1. I love this. First, I hear you on the mornings because “Mary” and “morning person” are also not anywhere near each other! But so true – the losing is not nearly as important as what we choose to do with the result. It can be good or bad depending on the direction we take.

  2. My mother was a morning person. She seemed to think it was some kind of virtue. My father and I did not agree. Transformation is the name of the game in writing and life. I recently started a new exercise program, river walking. They have these flowing streams in some rec centers and you walk against the current. Something new. I’ve been keeping up with it, a transformation in itself.

  3. I’m a morning person, but I haven’t always been. I transformed because I learned that in my semi-alert state, my creativity spun off in new, totally unanticipated directions. Transformation is a great thing!

  4. Pamela, I hear you on the body transformation! I’ve somehow convinced myself that regular exercise is party of my marketing plan for the November release. (Hey, I’m going with it).

    Agreed on the losing to transform a manuscript too. I had trouble with a recent manuscript–had two different scenes that I loved but it was clear that it was a one or the other choice. I think (hope!) I made the right decision!

  5. Sorry I’m late to responding, but thanks for the many kind comments. (And I’m so glad I’m not the only non-morning person!) Diane, I love the idea of making exercise part of your marketing plan. That’s brilliant!

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