Derby meets Writing – no such thing as no impact

One of the wonderful things about falling in love with an activity or community is the way it gives you new metaphors to describe things. In roller derby penalties generally do not get called if there is no impact. If you crash into the back of someone (back block) and they don’t budge an inch there is no impact and no penalty.

But of course on a broader level we always impact each other. What you do matters, what I do matters, that smile from a stranger on the bus might make my day and remember that joy is a gift.

Today I read this article “No Such Thing As No Impact” on derbylife, inspired by the untimely death of a skater. When I read these words I knew I had to share it with you: “An attractive quality of our derby culture is that, when done well, we are permitted to be simultaneously our most vulnerable and most powerful. Ideally, we give each other the time and space to transform.”

And it made me think about the writing communities we build. The brief intense communities of conventions and the sustained communities online or in meat space. When we write and when we read we expose ourselves.

We are vulnerable to each other and share some of the most beautiful, mangled, bleeding, loving, angry, joyful, despairing, hopeful parts of ourselves. We are vulnerable and sometimes we forget that.

This is a privilege and the communities of practice we build are important. When we write, when we read, when we critique, we are part of something that asks deeply of hearts and minds. If we become deadened to that our writing becomes boring, our reading becomes jaded. At it’s best we should have those same qualities as derby at its finest, something transformative, powerful, a gift and a joy.

Today there are people in writing and fandom grieving for people they will not see again. And there are people in derby grieving for people they will never see again. My heart goes out to those who have lost people they love, these people who most certainly made an impact.

May we be courageous, giving and joyously vulnerable in our writing, our reading and the communities we build. Often it is when we remember the fallen that we remember the truth of every day, there is no such thing as no impact.

I’m with the band.

Remember going to see that über-cool avant-garde punk-jazz band no one else has heard of except your friends because your friends together comprise the members of that band, and they’re playing an exclusive set in their garage or someone’s abandoned art gallery or nearly bankrupted bar that only you and a select few who know your friends know about? The only reason you know about it anyway is because you also play a screamin’ rock guitar, and sometimes you like to throw in a sweet saxophone and watch the huddling audience of two or three just melt, like weep in a pile of quivering sweat and torn t-shirts that scream “Xanadu is God” or “Glen Campbell is my father” or “My cat loves Pet Sounds”…

Remember that? No? Because, to me, that’s the definition of being a writer.

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