Monday, May 21, 2012

Taking our time to get there

Unhappy Muse The other day at taekwondo*, we were working on forward rolls. The class was a mix of kids and adults and various levels of black belts. Now, I used to have a pretty decent forward roll but for some reason, I’ve lost my mojo lately. It happens sometimes. You have some kind of brain freeze or blip - or lose your confidence - and you suddenly can’t do something that only a short time ago, you were pulling off. It’s not unlike getting writer’s block.

While waiting for my turn to demonstrate my roll for the instructor, I made a comment (okay fine, I whined like a baby) to a nearby friend that I was the only adult in the room who had a “loser roll.” Without missing a beat, she pointed out that I was also the only adult in the room who didn’t take hapkido (another martial art that focuses on joint manipulation and throwing/falling techniques.) In other words, even though I felt like I should be so much better, I was probably not too far off from right where I should be.

I feel this way about writing sometimes, too.

I look around at other writers and think I should be much further along by now. I let myself get down about any number of things: the speed at which I write, the fact what I want to quiet books when quiet books aren’t selling, the number of friends who’ve landed book deals when all I’ve been collecting is rejections from editors. (Super kind rejections, but rejections nonetheless.)
But the thing is, I’m probably not far off from right where I should be.

Maybe other writers put in more hours, are simply more talented, are blessed with a speedy pen, have better luck or ideas that are hot at the moment. But that’s okay. As I’ve learned over the last (almost) seven years of taekwondo training, this is not a race.

We’ll all get there. Eventually. We just gotta keep showing up and practicing. And, oh, remembering to tuck our heads to the side when we roll. :-)

*I seem to start a lot of my posts off this way, don’t I? :-)


  1. Carmella, it's not productive to look around at the progress of other authors and compare. There will be always many authors ahead of you, and behind you. After I met you here about 3 weeks ago I went to one of the largest bookstore in my city and typed your name in their computer and it was full with your books. I have a sense that it's not the number of books that you already published but the sales. That leads us to books that make impact. If you already write for a few years and have decent skills of writing .. then it all comes to an original and exicing idea for a book. It's not about writing slow or fast. Many people get book published all the time and they don't sell, or after one year they are basically forgotten. But if you just take your time and think about one good idea .. the path will be easier. Not that it's easy to come with the original/exciting idea .. but that's the key to make an impact and a good living from writing. Best wishes.

  2. Great post, Carmella -- thanks for the reminder that writing is not a race. I do the same sometimes (it's impossible not to, isn't it?), looking at another writer and seeing how much further she is than I am in her writing career, in less time.

    You're right -- we need to focus on our own writing and our own pace.

  3. So true! I have learned so much over the years from my mistakes and my rejections. I've always thought of good writers to be more like kimchi. Aging and time make it all the more savory.


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