Some things take time, dammit

concert pianist


I decided earlier today that I would become a concert pianist. I dropped that when I realized I owned no piano and had to struggle to learn Froggy Goes a Courtin‘ forty years ago.

I changed my life’s ambition to qualifying for the Senior PGA tour.  Then I remembered I can only break ninety on an easy course with a little creative score keeping. I put my clubs back in the garage.

Fred Couples

I moved on.  I had always thought I’d make a good doctor.  I searched the Internet and found I would have to take a couple of more years of science, score well on the MCAT and find a medical school that would take a student in his mid-sixties. And there was that thing about the sight of blood.


Okay.  I closed the book on those pursuits.

What else could I do with little preparatory work and without having to learn anything new?

I’ve got it.  I’ll be a writer.

Sounds funny when you think of it like that, doesn’t it?

It sounds funny because my examples point to one immutable truth: anything worth doing well takes a lot of practice coupled with a strong dose of experience.

A quick fix may get you to a gas station where you can change a flat tire, but it won’t get you across country. It might work in an emergency, but not as a life strategy.

The nub of  the writing gig is consistent, hard work over a period of time.

There is no substitute for it. Suppose a person is lucky enough to have good sales on his first book.  It is rare, but it can happen.  What does the person do next? If he sits back and gloats, his fans forget him.  If he continues writing, he finds he has created expectations about his future work, expectations that will drive him either to make the next one better than the first or to give up in fear that he can’t repeat the formula.

Let’s take the most common scenario.  A person writes a book and gives it wings.


Nothing happens despite the author’s best efforts.

Does she quit?

Shame on her if she does.

No.  She writes another one and another.

Does this  make her a better writer?

It should if she is open to the process and wants to improve.

As far as I can tell, that’s all there is to this author gig. Write something, write something else.

Oh, I just checked my watch.  I need to stop now.  I planted a redwood in the backyard this  morning.  I have to see how tall it is.



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