Today it’s snowing here in Wharncliffe; it’s not a blizzard, but a steady, gentle fall of fluffy flakes that’s going to pile several inches onto my driveway. The good news is that both Sky and I love the snow. (The other good news is that David will be home to blow out the driveway tomorrow!)
Yesterday I had an experience that reminded me of how knowledge and expertise and ability also arrive flake by flake, in increments so small you probably don’t even notice them. I was visiting my friend Tracy and helping her start a blog. Before I left, she had her blog and I’d given her a brief rundown – and a little demonstration – on how to create a post, a page and a link.
For a woman who is still struggling with how to follow someone on Twitter, this was an eye-opening experience. I have a very low tolerance for frustration with computers, and I’ve often been reduced to tears by my inability to understand what I need to do to make something work. When I started this blog, I took several weeks to get up to speed and figure out what I was doing. I shrieked for the help desk more than a little. Yet now I’m familiar enough with the process that I can help someone else through it.
The same thing is happening with my writing. I’m working through technical stuff (where, precisely, do you use a semicolon?), style stuff (first person, intimate third person or omniscient third person? Door number one, door number two or door number three?) and idea stuff (should I throw a suspicion of a werewolf into this mystery? What about hypertrichosis? What would happen to a child born with it in eleventh-century England?).
When I look back to my beginnings as a writer, I realize that my experience over the past twenty years has piled up like snow, one tiny bit at a time. I know now how to write humour – at least, a dry humour of my own particular type. I have a solid knowledge of the things you need to write fantasy, and I’m good at plot and story and dialogue, and at poetry of the traditional form type (you know – with rhymes and meter). These are all things I’m sure I didn’t know, or know as well, twenty years ago.
I view this as another advantage to being fifty-seven rather than twenty-seven. I’ve had time to learn and absorb. Cramming is one thing. I’m doing a bit of that now with mystery writing, trying to learn as much as I can in a short time. Cramming, however, doesn’t usually take. The real learning will happen over the next year, as I reread my source books and write one mystery, and another, and another. Each time, I hope, I’ll reinforce a skill I’m learning until it becomes ingrained into my writer self. I probably won’t even notice it happening, just as I didn’t notice my increasing ease with my blog. Just as one snowflake melts on the window of my my little orange Yaris, but eventually the fall will make it a white bump on my driveway.
I suppose there’s hope for me with Twitter after all.