Have you ever tried to take up a new sport? Master a new skill? Do you remember how frustrated you became?
I’ll use my learning to cast a fly rod, just as an example. I took lessons and at first, I just focused on trying to keep the line in the air. The rod moves from ten to two position (think of a clock) and timing is critical to keeping more and more line feeding out and in the air (hopefully without hitting yourself in the back of the head with a fly!). All that seemed hard enough, but then I had to actually aim at something in the water and be able to hit it, without slapping the water and scaring the fish! Or snarling the whole mess in an overhanging tree branch (where did that thing come from?) Seemed impossible in the beginning.
Being a neophyte in writing feels a bit like that; how do I remember all the things I need to do, all at the same time? Everything feels awkward, and just…. not comfortable. I’ll learn a new skill – say plotting. I end up focusing so much on that that my characters become flat and uninteresting. What makes it harder is that, at first, I don’t realize what’s happened. I just know that suddenly, I’ve lost interest in the story, and can’t make myself sit down and write. I spent a month flogging myself, accusing myself of being lazy, and questioning my ability to become a professional writer. A month wasted.
Well, maybe not wasted completely, because I now understand what was wrong, and maybe next time I’ll recognize it more quickly. This road to being a good writer is a long and convoluted one. Much more so than I realized when I began.
It’s like giving birth – if you truly knew what you were getting yourself into, would you do it? I think it depends on when you’re asked…when they put the baby in your arms for the first time? Of course! In the middle of labor? When the hormones hit at eleven? Maybe not so much . . .