I used to run hurdles in junior high. Well, I participated one year. That was enough for me to acquire a great admiration for people who could actually jump over those things without falling down.
When I ran hurdles, I didn’t focus on the finish line, my concentration was on making sure I cleared each hurdle by much more than the thread of my shorts. And technique. Ha! Jump in such a way that I did not go ker-splat! on the track. I didn’t fall once, but I didn’t win a single race either. (I think I’m okay with that because at least I didn’t quit).
Hurdles are a great metaphor for life, aren’t they? Once we tackle one obstacle, there’s always another to take it’s place until the race is finished. And then there’s always another race. If we haven’t trained or learned technique, then we’re likely to catch our toe and fall (actually, this often happens even when we do train). A fall can hurt us badly and take us out of the race for a while, or we might just skim our toe and stumble a little bit. The importance in falling is to evaluate what went wrong and learn from it. I prefer to watch others, learn first, and avoid the fall, but…
One of my greatest stumbling blocks in writing has been moving completed first draft to completed novel. In high school, I wrote a couple of novel-length stories in five subject notebooks (I still have one of those notebooks with a koala bear on the front). Then, back in the early 2000’s, I wrote two more novel-length stories that I shelved because of the obstacles that appeared in my life. Instead of learning how to manage them, I quit the writing race altogether.
The problem with being a writer is that you can’t quit the stories. They live on in your head whether you want them to or not. So a couple of years ago, I took a career break and jumped back in the writing race, completing a book with my daughter. Just as I finished the first draft, a hurdle of temptation appeared in the form of an enticing job offer.
But, I have something now that I didn’t have in the past. It’s called the Mel Ayers. She reminded me of the dream and the cost. Now we have three finished novels–all have gone through multiple drafts, and they are in the nearly completed stage.
The beauty of a hurdle is that once you’re over it, it’s behind you. You move onto the next one. It might not be easier, depending on where you are in the race. I think I’m in the latter two-thirds because writing the first draft is half the race. While I’ve finished multiple drafts and critiques, Mel and I are facing the decision to self-publish or not. There are pros and cons for both. I found this blog post by The Steve Laube Agency very helpful.
We’ve spent the summer gathering information, attending classes and conferences, and talking to industry professionals. We’re assessing, learning the best way to jump this hurdle because quitting or even slowing our momentum is not an option.
Are there obstacles preventing you from finishing a race? How do you maneuver over or around them?
Did you run track or participate in sports? How did you feel about all the practices and conditioning?