I love to ski, but seem to come to it with more injuries every year. Right knee, upper back, right wrist, left foot. I got a cortisone shot in my heel this time, determined not to miss out. My sister puts it somewhere between crazy and brave. Poised above an icy run at the top of Jackson Hole, for the first time I hesitated, thinking of how disastrous a fall would be, wondering whether I’d lost my courage. If writing were a sport, I’d be even more covered with bruises. Does the rough and tumble of experience wear you out, or does it somehow set you free?
In writing, rejection is a constant. Think about what endless criticism does to a person. Does it build you up or drag you down? Of course, it drags you down. You have to look elsewhere to find reasons to believe. Experience can be a burden – you begin to know all too well what could go wrong. I’ve read countless writing blogs and taken classes premised on what NOT to do, an approach which I find paralyzing. Creativity thrives on courage, the kind of boldness that propels you down the hill.
When I ski, there’s a moment when every turn feels out of control. When I have to embrace the sensation of falling. But then I feel my weight in my feet and the edge of my blades in the snow, and my trust in myself rushes back. Again, and again, all the way down. An embrace of risk for a fleeting sense of triumph.
What writers need is a trick to learning life’s lessons without giving up. Experience is important, but I also think you need to mix a little ornery in your attitude. To keep your ears open but still stay a bit deaf. A touch of writerly defiance – to blend some crazy in your brave. To believe in your own artistic vision even if the world tells you not to.
Unlike writing, skiing is a physical sport. There will be things we can’t do as we get older, but that’s all the more reason to cultivate courage inside.
The skill you’re building isn’t just writing, it’s resilience.
Such a marvelous post and terrific advice, Ellen. Thank you!
Thank you, Barb — your support means a lot!
LOVE this post, and for me your timing is exquisite — I read this just as my own sense of crazy courage was ebbing. Thank you for the reminder, and for the boost! Off I go, schussing toward the next self-imposed deadline, poised on the knife edge between control and disaster 🙂
So very happy to hear that. Best of luck riding that edge!
Exactly the right thing for me to read today! Thanks. I pictured you zipping down the slopes, glad for the sparkling spray at each turn, and for, I hope, the quiet that makes the shush of the skis a clearer communication. The analogy to writing works. Thanks.
Beautifully put! Thanks for your comment, Lois. I wish you both sparkle and the quiet of reflection in your writing.
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