Saturday, February 18, 2012

Skiing Is Like Writing

I'm actually off on a ski weekend with the extended family right now, but thinking about the trip the other night got me pondering all the ways that skiing is like writing.

Yeah, it kind of looks like that.
Anyone can get to the top of the hill, strap on some skis, point them down the slope and go. No lessons, no skills. They just barrel down, screaming their heads off until they fall, collide with someone else and fall, or (miracle of miracles) reach the bottom... and fall. See? Without knowing how to stop, falling tends to be how it happens. That doesn't make them "skiers," it makes them fools who fall down. It's sort of how anyone can sit down at their laptop and "write." Now, I won't argue that they aren't "writers" in that if they make it to the end (the bottom), they might fall down, but they still made it. But it doesn't make them "authors" (aka for the point of this post--"published writers").

You see, an author has gone through the lessons (learning craft). They've fallen down over and over again (written a lot, and even failed a lot). But they don't quit getting better. Mastered the green slopes? Awesome, move on to blue. Feeling good there? Let's try some blacks, maybe with moguls. Authors are the ones that strive to reach the double blacks. And sometimes, when things are good, they'll be able to hop on those slopes and hit ever curve and jump and land every trick.
There's no feeling like it.

But sometimes they'll still fall.

There will be some literary patch of ice or a broken binding on a boot or... something that gets in the way of that perfect run. The thing they don't tell you about those harder hills is when you fall there, the wipeout tends to be more extreme than anything but those crazy point-your-skis-down-the-slope-and-go falls.

I had a little tumble recently. One that knocked my skis off. For a little while, I sat there on the writerly slope, looking at my skis and the hill and wondering if it was worth trudging back up in the uncomfortable boots to get my skis and finish the run. After all, that rock that made me fall wasn't going anywhere. There's nothing quite like freezing your butt off while sitting in the snow and trying to convince your brain that you should move.

But if you want this gig, if you want to be an author, you have to finish the run. And then you have to get on the chair lift and do another one--if only to prove to yourself that you can. It's not about how spectacularly you fall. It's about how stoically you get back up again.
Smart man that Bon Jovi guy ;-)

So, while I'm on the slopes, I'll be planning for my next literary run, and damn it, this one's going to be clean and beautiful. And that little tumble? It won't be forgotten, but it won't matter anymore.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

No comments: