Jhani Randhawa Recommends...

When I become stuck in my writing (which is to say, almost every time I try to get something onto the page), I often consider where else I experience stuck-ness and what sensations emerge in my body. Today, I am thinking about rock climbing. Suspended by a tightly woven nylon rope thirty feet up, the physical spasms start in a molar kind of pattern. Guts and trachea begin to twist, both calves tighten and release at the Achilles which causes my feet to flap vigorously against their wedged holds on the climbing wall, then one by one each finger trembles, loosening my grip. Flooded with cortisol and adrenaline, my body is wrenched tectonically by conflicting protective maneuvers: to remain cemented in place, fly off the vertical face of the wall, or blast up the next fifteen feet to send the route. If I don’t find my center and let it dissipate, I’ll hyperventilate or someone will have to come pry me off my arbitrary, stubborn perch. Sensations like this—vivid, shattering, liminal, time-bending—become trapdoors into the work at hand. So I’ll close my eyes and visualize each option; once, twice, until my internal compass is recalibrated. On the wall, and on the page, there is energy in resistance and refusal. Most of the time I end up back on the earth, having not sent the route, flush and humbled by my limitation, my failure. And yet, I am on my ass having imagined the otherwise, having been re-compassed and moved by that essayed otherwise. As playwright and author Sarah Ruhl demands in her essay collection, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014), “More failure! More demand for failure! More bad plays! Less perfection! More ugliness! More grace!”
—Jhani Randhawa, author of Time Regime (Gaudy Boy, 2022) 

Photo credit: Teo Rivera-Dundas