Flip-Flop State of Mind

Two weeks ago, I was walking down the stairs into my backyard, slipped on an acorn, fell onto the pine straw, and rolled down the hill. When I finally stopped, one ankle was twisted behind me and the other one bent in front of me. I lay there thinking there is no way I’m going to be able to stand on the pine straw in my blinged-out wedge flip-flops. The surface of pine straw is slippery even in the most practical footwear. Fortunately, my friend was in the backyard and heard me fall. After checking to see if I was okay, we both laughed as we tried to figure out how I was going to stand up.

After a bit of deliberation, I grabbed onto my friend’s arm and slowly straightened one foot and then the other. Amazingly, I was able to bear weight on both ankles. Though I felt the initial soreness from the fall, adrenaline prevented me from feeling the real pain.

Reluctantly, I changed into a pair of flat flip-flops. The shoes I was wearing looked better with my outfit and prevented my jeans from dragging the ground, but I had a ton of errands to run and feared I might really hurt myself walking around in high heels.

I took both dogs to the vet, straightened up the house and went to my acupuncture appointment.The fall seemed to have little affect on me until I lay on the table to receive my treatment. Both ankles throbbed and ached like crazy. It didn’t surprise me when the acupuncturist informed me both of my ankles were sprained. It made sense considering they way they were sprawled in different directions. She gave me some herbs to reduce the swelling and then told me I needed to wear a more supportive shoe than flip-flops. I left her office more annoyed that she challenged my flip-flops than the fact that both of my ankles were sprained.

Admittedly, I have a shoe fetish. Nothing makes me happier than strolling through Nordstrom’s shoe department. I rarely leave empty-handed. Consequently, I have more shoes than I would ever publicly document. I made that mistake once when I shared  the number with my husband. I thought he would find it amusing. He didn’t. He just uses it to keep a running tally. Needless to say, I love shoes. And of all the shoes I have, flip-flops are my absolute favorite. Since we moved to Atlanta, I wear them nine months out of the year in Atlanta. I have a variety of colors and styles. When I put on a pair of flip-flops, a sense of freedom washes over me. I’m relaxed and open. I feel more creative. I just want to have fun. It’s a whole flip-flop mindset.

This may be a stretch, but I think the flip-flop mindset can be applied to writing.  A confident writer expresses his or her ideas and perspective openly to world. That’s why I choose a picture of flip-flops looking out at the horizon as the symbol for this blog. Creativity is at its best when we allow ourselves the freedom to be playful with our craft.

I wouldn’t describe myself as naturally playful. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to be more playful and have more fun. I get mired in the yuck of the subjects that I write about. So last week I challenged myself to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I decided to try my hand at a semi-romance (not a real genre, but who cares). Anyway, I had so much fun just playing with my characters and the story line. I began to wonder why I didn’t write like that more often.

Then it occurred to me, I write like a pair of practical shoes.

I’m too considered about personal comfort. I’m confined to a fixed process, style and voice, because it has worked in the past. I don’t let myself experiment. And while there are times when practical shoes are appropriate, there are other options.

Sometimes you need to be like a pair of sneakers to withstand the hard work of revision.

Other times you need to slip on a sexy pair of pumps to make your writing elegant and sleek. And then there are times when you need to put on a pair of flip-flops to have some fun. Understanding your mindset and what works best for the time is an important part to building your confidence as writer.

The last two weeks I have been wearing a pair of shoes I would have never bought if both ankles weren’t sprained. When I look down at my feet, I groan at their lack of style and the fact that I can’t see my toes. But when I walk, I realize I am wearing the appropriate type of shoes for my current situations. As writers, we have to be adaptable to where we are mentally, emotionally, and physically. Wearing the right mindset can be as important as the right pair of shoes.

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