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Shadowboxing [To 50K and Beyond]

by Jose Vilson on July 11, 2011

in Jose

Golden Gloves Boxer, Shadow Boxing

Writing these days has been an exercise in shadowboxing, fighting myself on the way to the completion of this first manuscript. Similar to my blog, I decided to stay away from topics that could hurt my professional aspirations and / or provide any openings about my past or present love life. Unlike my blog, however, I will discuss events that actually happened in my classroom and school that merit further discussion. It’s less a confessional and more a re-telling. Thus, past incidents have left me facing versions of myself from years and decades past, and they’ve come back packing punches. Every time I re-look at that document, I’m pulling it further from the how-to guides and research-heavy stories so popular in some of edu-circles and more into the realm of semi-memoir as social commentary.

That route is far more dangerous than I even gave it credit for.

During the process, I’ve excavated within my soul in ways I didn’t want to originally, for fear of finding things out about myself that I didn’t know were there. At one point, I had to put it down because it knocked me out emotionally. Normally, when I write, my feet might go up, my back straightens some, and I’m intent on finishing the piece. With this, I’m pacing from my living room to the kitchen, then to my bedroom, then I get back and stare angrily at the piece. Then, I might wince a little, scream at my Mac, then look in disgust at the thought that I might put something that intimate about me out there. Believe it or not, I’m such a private person when it comes to certain things that sometimes I lean too much to the right and become the professional voice, the outside observer, or the nascent (and benign) commentator.

Then I’m reminded that this isn’t that kind of project.

As I’m reaching 40K in my manuscript, my fighting spirit came back to me through a few incidents, one of which was getting a glimpse of John Leguizamo’s one-man show writing process for Ghetto Klown. There’s something to be said for digging so deep that you also learn why you’ve made it as far as you have. My voice in this manuscript is creeping slowly from the comfortable and professional, more gangsta and passionate. It’s a temperature as warm as this summer. The more I surrender to the process, the stronger I become.

I’m at 35,000 words now. I’m aiming for 45,000 and beyond. Whatever the end product, I assure you it’ll be the product of a set of battles I won. Until then, rumble, young man, rumble …

Jose, who doesn’t think it’s too much for him to jam …

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