Monday, September 1, 2014

Baby Steps

No, that is not the name of a new book of mine.  While I do have a recently finished contemporary New Adult (SPARK, first in a series!), it's the writing baby steps that weigh in my mind at the moment.

So, I am sitting here watching the US Open. Now, watching tennis is one of my favorite things. Most holidays, and especially Labor Day, I look forward to doing it.  I played the game a lot when I was younger and I really enjoy the elegant, classy sport.  Plus, I loved the cute outfits.  The only cuter ones were on ice skaters and ice and I don't get along well.  But, I digress.

Anyway, as I am watching I am also appreciating the intelligent and interesting commentary from McEnroe and Carrillo, a seasoned duo of callers from the USTA roster of personalities.  They always find something to say that provokes my thoughts, something new, even though they have been calling this game forever. They did again today.

They spoke of one of the US Open hopefuls working hard to get into the quarterfinals.  The statement struck me.  Why wasn't she working hard to win? The answer came with an almost revelatory epiphany.

Because she can't win at the finals unless she gets there first.

Perseverance.

Endurance.

Baby steps.

Writers, don't forget that the baby steps you take are the only way to get there.  Write, and write some more.  Read, and read some more.  Hone your craft before you unleash it on the world.  One step at a time, not skipping stones, no hopscotching.

How does that compare to tennis, you ask?  Here's an example:  I finished a book.  Before I can even dream of selling or publishing it, there are many steps to be taken.  I need to read the book. Out loud.  To myself.  Grammar will certainly need to be addressed, as well as the spell-check. Then editing will begin in earnest.  Paragraphs, whole chapters may end up on the cutting room floor.  I don't need to tell you that step; as writers we fear, dread and respect it.

I'll write a blurb.  Then I'll write it again.  And again.  I'll consider a log line.  I'll croak out a query and struggle to create a synopsis. Throw it all away and start over.  These are the baby steps I'll take as I conduct my own Open, work my own brackets.  My Round of 16, Round of 8.  My quarterfinals to the semis.  Each step I take gets me closer to the final.  The finished book.

Many people have said it many ways, but the essence in all remains.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with but one step. They just forgot to mention it was a baby step.