A Year on Saturn

...is approximately 29.7 Earth years.

"A Year on Saturn" is the website of Shannon Fay,
freelance and fiction writer.

Karate and writing

Posted on: July 10th, 2012 by Shannon Fay No Comments

Welcome to my blog, where the Monday updates come on a Tuesday.

Last week I talked about the importance of writing everyday. This post is a bit similar to that, in that it is also about putting in the hours and not giving up. The last week or two has been pretty spotty when it comes to my ‘write every day’ vow. There was an out-of-town anime convention one weekend and a best friend’s wedding the next. On top of that I took on some extra shifts at work to make up for the hours I lost going to these things, so all in all I’ve been pretty busy and it’s thrown my schedule out of whack.

But it’s not just my writing that’s been pushed to the wayside. I’ve been practicing karate since November 2011 and with all that’s been going on I missed a couple of classes. I’ve never been one to exercise for the sake of exercising. I can’t just go for a jog around the block, I need to actually be running somewhere for it to matter to me. I like physical activities where you’re learning something or fine tuning a skill as you work out. That’s what I like about karate: not only am I exercising but I’m also learning new things, like how to be a bad-ass.

But with all that’s going on I haven’t been to a karate class for weeks. Last night I went up to the dojo (okay, it’s actually a community centre, but what makes a dojo isn’t the building so much as the people) and was worried I would just make a complete fool of myself. What if I had forgotten everything I had learned? what if they stripped me of my hard-earned yellow belt?

Of course none of that happened. Everything came back to me and I remembered how much I enjoy myself when I make myself get out of the house and do things.

But hey, this is a writing blog, not a karate blog, which is way I am going to now do what I do with practically everything in my life and tie my karate hobby into my writing. If there’s one thing practicing karate has taught me (besides how to snap someone’s elbow) it’s patience. At my former dojo the kids and adult classes were mixed together. One day I overheard the sensei telling a five-year-old that if he worked hard, he could have a black belt by the time he was 11. That made me stop and think. Before that I hadn’t really thought about how long it would take me to get a black belt. It made me realize that a lot of things worth having take a lot of time and effort. Yes, I know, Captain Obvious here, reporting for duty, but it was one of the first time that I could see such a literal example of something that had only been a general thought before. If you want to become a black belt, you have to work your way up the ranks, learning the basics and building up a strong foundation before learning the advanced techniques. And that takes years.

It also made me realize that perhaps I was being a bit impatient when it came to writing. I was expecting to be published now, for the world to stumble upon me (BTW, hi to anyone who came here through stumble upon!) and just lift me up and proclaim me a great writer. But when I thought about my writing career in relation to my karate training, I realized just how far I still have to go. Wanting to be prolific and famous at my level is like walking into a dojo, throwing a few kicks and punches, and then holding out your hand for a black belt.

I’m just not there yet. This is something that I have to remind myself of often, especially after getting a 140+ day rejection for a story I really like. But in a way it’s also a hopeful sentiment. Sure, I’m not there yet, but if I keep practicing and going to class and learning from the teachers and other students, I will get my black belt eventually. And if I keep doing the writing equivalent of all those things, I’ll become a better writer. As it says in the Chito-Ryu Showa, ‘With peace, perseverance, and hard work, we shall reach our goals.”

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