I’m not talking about a triple spinning uppercut–although I’d love to be able to do that in real life. But let’s start with some context
When I was eighteen and in college, there wasn’t much to do on breaks and lunch. So myself and a boy I hung around with would play arcade games. Street Fighter, as I recall. I’m dating myself horribly, but I have a point. I played for weeks. Maybe three or four. And got thrashed continually by my friend. There was a lot of specialized moves, hand eye coordination, and understanding of the game’s patterns of movement. Certain moves were called for at certain times, certain moves of your opponent needed certain defences, and some things you could do were simply unstoppable (a glitch in the system, and super annoying to the uninitiated). Anyway, I got beat. A lot.
Then one day, I didn’t. My mind and body clicked, and suddenly I was winning. In fact, I was thrashing my friend, because I’d found a couple of moves that were difficult to defend with the character he liked to use the most. I remember he looked at me and said. “It’s about time.”
I think a lot of things are like that. You learn and you try, and you learn and you try, and if anything, you seem to get worse. Then one day, something clicks, and suddenly you’re better than you were. Not that you’re the best yet, but you’re a level up. And it shows.
I believe that it’s the same in writing. I’ve felt it. Not in everything (I don’t have a book deal yet, and may never), but I found a year or two ago that my story pitches were getting more attention on website competitions. It had clicked with me how to write one. Not that my story ideas were always somebody’s cup of tea, but they were getting more attention. I’d leveled up.
I’m not sure if this is a craft tip, but maybe it’s a bit of hope for writers who are new and finding things frustrating. You can get better. You WILL get better. You just have to keep getting thrashed first.
It’s close to one of my birthdays, and I have to admit to feeling a little bit of the blues the last week. On the writing journey, there are no signposts or guarantees that you’re going to get to the promised land, or even a friendly rest-stop. But I hope to shake this mood off soon and remind myself that I take joy in the writing, the creating, and getting better.
And maybe one day my ‘level up’ will be something more significant…
This image is a quick effort in Prismacolor. I tried to stay true to the low pixel original screen images, but I’m not sure how well it came out. A fun effort in any event.