Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Practise really does make...

ok, well, not Perfect, but it certainly improves almost anything we do, including writing. Of course, we all know that, but with writing it's sometimes hard to SEE the improvement. Sometimes it takes seeing it work in other areas to believe in its efficacy.

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of Nia. This month marks two years since I began regular Nia classes. (Stay with me now, this DOES connect to my first paragraph *g*). I loved it almost right away, but one of the few moves I really didn't like at all was the shimmy. Why? Because I couldn't shimmy to save my life - I'm not kidding, I looked like an idiot trying to make my shoulders do something they'd never done before. And at 40+, they really weren't keen on learning something new and different.

My mother-in-law told me to just keep at it, keep trying that shimmy and eventually, my body would adapt and I'd be able to do the move with at least some measure of competence. So I did, much as I really hated it and was relieved when we did less shimmy-intensive routines. For at least a year, I swore I'd never get it and that I might as well give up.

During my second year of Nia, however, I noticed a change. It was subtle at first, just a little bit of movement. Then one day we came to a shimmy section of a routine and I realized I was doing it properly, not brilliantly, mind, but well enough that someone watching would know I was shimmying. It was so cool. Now I really enjoy the routines when we shimmy, all the more so because it was something I worked so hard at and finally saw the results.

In our writing, I believe it happens the same way. We write and write and write, sometimes never feeling like we're making progress, as though our dialogue is still stiff, our narrative awkward and our pacing all wrong. We work hard at it, get critiques, read craft books and study the writing of others. And keep on writing. And then suddenly, it jells and those reading our work see it as well.

Granted, most of us never achieve writing perfection, but just like me and my shimmy, we do reach another level, after months/years of very subtle changes as a result of our constant effort and study. Changes we can't see on a day to day basis, but changes that are there nonetheless.

So, the next time you read your work and think it's crap, remember me and my shimmy.

In Other News
Today I'm sending off my application to the Library Information & Technology Diploma Programme at Langara College in Vancouver. Yep, that's right, I'm hoping to go back to school in January, as I'm applying to the Flexiple Participation Option, which means I'll do everything online. I had thought of the MLIS programme at the University of British Columbia, but nothing there is available online and the thought of commuting, even two or three days a week was pretty daunting. This way (if I get in) I can keep working at the Sechelt Public Library - I'm one of several casual Public Services Assistants hired recently. So far I'm just loving my job and wishing I'd made this career choice 20 years ago. However, I can't change the past, so I'm at least trying to change the future by applying to the programme and working over the next few years to earn that diploma.

Does this mean I'm going to give up my writing or my attempts to get published? No way. I often work better when I have more on my plate, though at certain times I imagine my mss might suffer a little. But writing has been a part of my life for so long that I feel confident in my ability to fit it in, even when things get busy. My characters generally give me no choice.

In view of all the above, I've decided I might as well attempt NaNo again this year, to help jump start me on one of my stories that I've pretty much completely revamped. I had a chapter or so written, but decided a few months ago to change much of the backstory and plot (encouraged to do so by my hero/heroine), so this will give me the opportunity to get going and see what happens.

So - anything new and exciting with you? If you've gone back to school, did you enjoy it?


Currently Reading: The Intelligencer by Leslie Silbert
Link of the Day: Wonders and Marvels


Melissa Marsh said...

I LOVED going back to school! Being older and (hopefully!) wiser, I gleaned so much more information and appreciated it a lot more. I would take more classes just to sit in and listen to the lectures if I could, but I couldn't go back to school and take tests, write papers, etc. No thanks!

Great post on writing. I believe that we definitely must keep on practicing to make things better!

Cindy Procter-King said...

Teresa, love this post. Although the idea of doing any "routine" where I have to "shimmy" makes me break out. I'm a huge klutz. I'd shimmy my way down the stairs and crack open my head.

Good for you for signing up for NaNo. It's not for me. Tried it once, and I'm still untangling the web I created from that experiment! Have a great time NaNo-ing.

Tess said...

Melissa - this course is all online, which (if I get in) will have advantages and disadvantages. Will have to write papers though :) At least word processors have come a long way since the last time I was regularly writing essays!

Cindy - LOL - I'm pretty klutzy myself, but these routines are never too complicated. And no stairs involved *g*.

Thanks for the NaNo luck - we'll see how it goes.

Nienke Hinton said...

At least with writing, even if you don't get it the first try, you can edit. Wish I could edit my moves...
I went back to school in my 30s and LOVED it. Got straight A's and made a lot of friends (despite being the old hag in the class - they even invited me to their parties!)
Good luck with Nano, your application, and continued success on your shimmy.

Tess said...

Nienke - LOL! Yeah, there are times I wish I could edit my moves as well.

Glad to hear your Back to School experience was similar to Melissa's. Though I won't interact in person with other students, I gather we'll chat online - yay!