So my recent holiday experience comes as no surprise to me. Let me explain (sit, I have slides).
I am not a great skier. In fact, I'm not even a very good one, but I agreed to a skiing holiday in Japan, pleased that my equally-hopeless sister, Ro, was joining me so we could check out each other's face-planting techniques.
The third adult in the party is a competent black-run (diamond, sapphire, whatever) skier.
"Here's a really good green run," he says. "It's wide; it's not busy; blah blah blah."
So my sister and I followed the advice of the expert, made it off the ski lift without bowling ourselves or anyone else over, and stood at the top of the slope, wondering how on earth we came to be there and how we would ever get down again.
It was just too steep for us.
Nevertheless, we trusted the advice of the expert and struggled down the slope. I'd like to say that my abilities surpassed my expectations, but alas, they did not.
After a great deal of face-planting, filled with terror, rather than laughter, we made it to the bottom, clicked off the wretched skis, and looked back up the slope. "What on earth were we thinking?"
My confidence was shattered. So was my sister's. We lugged our gear back to our accommodation, wondering if we could claim a refund on our lift passes, and co-ordinating the books we would read for the remainder of the trip.
After a hearty hot pot meal and restful night, Ro and I arose the next morning determined to redeem ourselves. We studied the plan of the mountain, diligently selected runs better suited to our abilities (or lack of), and set off once more.
Eureka! We flew past other face-planters and revelled in our expertise. We swooped down the slope like the bullet train in for service. We had conquered the foot of the mountain. Hurrah for us!
So what has this got to do with writing? Not much, I guess, but I did utter these philosophies to myself to combat chronic brain freeze:
1. I wasn't reading Bird by Bird, but I was living it, snowflake by snowflake.
2. To master the top of the mountain, you must first master the bottom.
3. It doesn't hurt to extend yourself, but don't be surprised to learn you're not as good as you think you are.
4. If you're not ready, step back and be patient.
5. There's no point doubting your abilities. It's better to learn what they are, and work with them.
6. Don't give up. There's a spot for you. If you keep on looking, you'll find it.
7. Only you know where you're at, so
8. Never trust an expert.