|Before: March 2008|
Since then, I've exercised my pen in newspaper columns and books. I've toned my arms and legs with weights, Karate forms, jogging, hill sprints. I've been on a literary and gastronomic diet, cutting out Henry James and confectionary. It's been violent: I've punched with friends, and cut into text.
I still enjoy purple prose and ice-cream with Nutella. But there's been a double distillation: of my prose and my body. It's gratifying on both counts.
|After: March 2011|
Now, this isn't 'do whatever you like' freedom, but independence, strength, autonomy. It's the opposite of slavery, only the masters are junk-food companies, or great authors.
In this, distillation is perhaps the wrong metaphor. My body isn't some essential thing, which I've only now concentrated. It is new: a different body shape, coordination, strength. Likewise for my prose styles. They're not essentially me: they're cultivated, contrived.
Why is this important to me? Because this process is precisely what I've recommended in Distraction: the slow task of creating oneself. As I see it, the philosophical struggle isn't simply for truth, although this is vital. It's also to live well in light of one's discoveries. Or at least to try, with some courage and conviction, or their dumb cousin: stubbornness.
In my leaner body and prose, I at least have the latter.