08 November 2014

A Writing Lesson I Learned from a Guy on a Skateboard

Yesterday, during my lunch break, I sat in front of a small bakery and I noticed a guy on a skateboard. I've noticed him before and he's fairly regular to this particular street. He went back and forth down the small street on his skateboard practicing various tricks.

In my mind, I almost wanted to cheer him on and say, "You can do it!" Each time he failed, and screwed up on the trick, he swore under his breath (and sometimes not under his breath) and started again. Sometimes a car came and he stood to the side, patiently waiting to start again. Finally, about a half hour after I sat down, he nailed the trick. (In my mind, I also wanted to say, "Yay! You did it!" Of course, I was silent). I didn't see him make a huge celebration, but I just sensed a silent victory. He went down a different road, maybe to try something else, or put it away for the day.

As a writer, I think we all are experiencing this type of routine. We're all on that same narrow street and going back and forth with our own skateboards trying to nail a trick. Our trick as writers is the story that we're trying to finish.  There's a lot of times we don't get it right. A lot of times where we're swearing because it just didn't work out - rejections, bad critiques, our writer's block.

Cars will get in the way. Maybe that for us is stress - money troubles, family troubles, day job troubles. It makes us stand to the side, away from our creative work, and just hope it's over soon.

Once we finally nail that trick, and this is something I learned recently, we have a quiet celebration, usually. We share the news, bashfully accept the congratulations of those we've shared our work with, and even boast a bit on our social networks. But we go back to the drawing board because the next trick awaits for us to conquer.

The thing is we must always go back. We must go back to that same narrow street and try to nail the trick. Even as the skateboard slides out from under us half way through trick and we land on our back.

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