Muscle Memory by Author Lindsay Leslie

Rollerskating. The shine of a newly waxed wooden floor. The clunk, clunk, clunk of those four wheels speeding around the rink. The throbbing pop music pumping through the speakers. I love the roller rink. I spent my adolescence there, and now, as a momma, I take my kids.

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The first time I took them, I hadn’t been rollerskating in a while, but I was game. We laced up our skates and hit the floor. Literally. It didn’t take more than four rotations before my face made a beeline for that waxy wood. But something in my mind kicked in. Something from a long time ago. I used to play volleyball back in high school, and my training taught me to splay out my body in order to dig a ball just beyond reach. I learned how to fall and fall well. So as the floor rushed to introduce itself to my face, I stretched my right arm out and above my head, twisted my body to the left, and slid rather than crash landed. That was my subconscious brain taking over. Complete muscle memory. And thank goodness I knew those moves from somewhere in the depths of my synapses, because it wasn’t my only fall that day.

Fast forward to another day at the rink. The boys were off skating, and I was smooth-sailing behind them. My oldest son decided he needed to teach me proper crossovers, since I was a bit rusty. I watched him closely as he crossed right over left like butter. But on one turn, my teacher clipped a wheel, which sent him straight to the floor. The difference between his fall and mine was training. The hours and hours of volleyball practice, which took place more than twenty-five years ago. He went straight down. No splaying out. No turn of the body. Just boom. One wrist didn’t make it. That was a hard day, but he has since healed.

This made me think about muscle memory. The muscles that do their work without us knowing. The main muscle that catalogues practice and repetition. That catalogues the learning we gather along the way, then can use it out of context. I relate it to the work I do as a children’s author: the books I’ve read as a child, the studies I’ve pursued, the people met and conferences attended, the blogs read and webinars watched. All of this knowledge streaming through my brain. And when I write a story that’s been dancing in my mind, I believe muscle memory happens. The subconscious plays with the words and helps shape what lands on the page based on what has informed me over the years. Not every day will be a perfect twist with no bruises. Nope. But sometimes I stick the landing.

What have you recalled from the depths of your mind that has surprised you? Were you in awe when it happened? I always am.

According to Lindsay, why small moments matter: Small moments are like shooting stars. You've got to be paying attention to catch the brilliance.

Bio: A diary keeper, a journalism major, a public relations executive—Lindsay Leslie has always operated in a world of written words. When she became a mom and began to tell her kids bedtime stories, Lindsay connected the dots to children’s literature. Lindsay is the author of THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS, her debut picture book (Page Street Kids, Feb. 19, 2019), which received a starred review from the American Library Association’s Booklist. Her subsequent books include NOVA THE STAR EATER (Page Street Kids, May 21, 2019) and WANTED: DUSK RAIDERS (Page Street Kids, Spring 2020). Lindsay lives with her husband, two young boys, and two fur-beasts in Austin. Follow her on Twitter at @lleslie or Instagram at @lindsaylesliewrites. Check out her website at:

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Brave Tutu Note: Lindsay and I have been friends and writing buddies for a while now. I met Lindsay before one of our Austin SCBWI conferences, when were both “newbies” to the group. We connected by laughter. I appreciated her wit and wanted to be friends. I was so happy when she and her husband Ryan were at the same table, cheering for Don Tate, at the Austin Public Library’s/ The Library Foundation ATX Illumine banquet. Both of us were inspired by the evening. “One day, this will be us.” I’m so excited that Lindsay’s time is HERE. She is an official author with her debut picture book THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS! This book is as delightful as it sounds!  I hope everyone who can will join us for her book launch at BookPeople at 2pm on Sat. Feb. 23rd! I know our Writing Barn and SCBWI community will be there cheering her one!


Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)

-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.