Have you ever questioned where certain phrases come from? I have, on more than one occasion. I had an experience two days ago that brought home my understanding of the phrase “missed a step” in none too friendly terms. I was walking down the stairs with my hands full and, thinking I’d reached the bottom, I stepped out to find nothing but air. The side of my foot landed first, my ankle giving out from under me, and I hit the floor, pain screaming though the joint. It hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe. I lay on the ground moaning and groaning until my husband came to my rescue and helped me up.
This in connection to a conversation I had with a friend of mine about a week ago has really had me thinking. She was bemoaning the fact that her writing never comes out the way she wants, that she can’t seem to write great no matter how hard she tries. I, of course, being the good friend that I am offered comfort and told her that it’s all part of the learning process. I remember going through it. I remember those days of wondering if I would ever be ‘good enough’, and feeling like I was chasing a phantom.
The problem is we can’t start at the beginning and leap to the end. We have to take each step along the way, learn the process, so that in the end we can be the great writers we so desire. If we miss the step of plot, our stories will ramble. If we miss the step on characterization our protagonist will be cardboard. If we miss the step of grammar our manuscripts will be unreadable. Every step we learn leads us that much closer to the end of having a good book and knowing how to write fully and well.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to skip anymore of those steps. It just hurts too much.