Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missing a Step

By Karen Hoover

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.


LexiconLuvr said...

EXCELLENT POST! I find myself sometimes wishing I could skip steps but when I "step back" and look at the whole picture, I find my story hurting for "missed steps."

Thanks for the extra reminder that it's a journey I should savor--not bemoan.

Anonymous said...

Yowza! I have done that - you have ALL my sypathy! I hope you didn't do too much damage to your ankle!

Great analogy, too. Especially when I think of my nephew who is so tall he can go up the stairs two at a time with no trouble at all - that's the way I feel about really successful writers. But I know better than to try that myself - I'm never gonna be 6'5", and I'm never going to get to take shortcuts with my writing.


Ali Cross said...


I'm sorry you had that bad fall Karen - ouch!

But I loved the way you worked it into a learning opportunity for yourself and all of us.

I definitely am one who sometimes wishes I could rush to the end and skip a few steps in between. I get pretty down on myself thinking that it's only me that struggles, each step of the way.

But posts like yours remind me that we all must take those same steps, that it's all part of the process.

Thanks so much!

Karen Hoover said...

Lexi-Thanks so much! It definitely is a journey we should savor. Good luck on your own journey.

Wes-The ankle is still a little tender but at least I don't need the cane anymore. The brace holds it nicely. I can sympathize with wanting to skip steps but we're better writers (and people) when we hit every step we can.

Ali-Thanks for the sympathy and compliments. I can say with absolute surety that you are not the only one who struggles. It's a struggle just to park my backside in the chair every day. I'm glad the post helped. You are very welcome!

jo oliver said...

What a great blog. Very well done. I too am a freelance writer. Since having my daughter, I have turned to freelance writing as my only income. My daughter has Mitochondrial disease, so I stay home to care for her. If anyone would like to check out some of my work this is a link to my last article:

Just to be honest....I do get paid for the amount of people that view the article.

Shari said...