I had a thought while I was driving to work a couple of days ago. It suddenly occurred to me how comfortable I had gotten with driving. You see, only a few years ago, I was one of those city people who did not see the point of driving. Living in London guaranteed that having a car was mostly more trouble than it was worth. You can get anywhere by train, tube, bus; or if you are feeling particularly flush/loaded/extravagant/manic, by taxi. So it wasn't until I was posted to a much smaller and far less well-connected town, that I realised the error of my oversight. I was routinely stranded; soaked by rain; frozen by unexpected winter chills and rended ill by the ever-changing weather.
I was soon getting driving lessons and impatiently pushing myself to get the hang of it. Unfortunately, I was not one of those that took to the new skill naturally. It was a struggle. Even after I passed my practical test, it took over a year me for me to get to the point where I do not wake up hours earlier in the morning, if I have to drive a new route that day or if I have to traverse the motorway-however briefly.
Now, however, I live thirty minutes for my place of work and happily skip to my car each morning, looking forward to the drive on the motorway, calm as can be. If anyone had told me I would feel like this when I was struggling with it over a year ago, I would have vowed never to trust their lying tongue ever again.
anyway, while driving to work today, listening to Mur Lafferty's IShouldBeWriting (#ISBW) podcast on my phone, I was reminded of a previous episode I had listened to. In that podcast, she described what it means when the phrase that forms part of the topic of this post is mentioned: Waiting for the other shoe to drop. A listener had informed her that it had to do with the situation where, sharing a room with a someone, you are woken up during the night by them stumbling in and crashing into the bunk bed directly above where yours. As you listen, one of their shoes falls to the floor. Then, you lie there, waiting, knowing that until the other one joins it, you will not be able to settle back into sleep.
What has this got to do with writing? This: we all have our favourite author(s). Usually, these men and women have several publications under their belts. We, as aspiring writers, wonder how they do it. How do they get from the initial idea, to words on the page? And more importantly, how do they do it over and over again.
I think that for them, the other shoe has dropped. They started somewhere, just like we have. They worked putting in the 10,000 hours needed to learn their craft and along the way, they got the hang of it. They suddenly understood what it took to transform the raw idea to the finished product and how to use that formula to take each idea, each project from conception to completion.
I long for that moment - the moment when it all clicks together. It will probably not be a sudden flash of revelation. More likely, I will notice somewhere along the way, through the never-ending hours of writing, researching, blogging and despairing, that I am finally comfortable in the process. The time when I do not worry about it all going wrong; about never finishing it; or that everyone will hate it. I do not expect it to be smooth sailing as each project will have it's difficulties; just like I do not get complacent behind the wheel (well, I try not to!), because of the numerous unknown quantities behind the wheels of all the other cars on the road with me.
What I ask is that I one day, have a method of tackling the obstacles presented by my story; a method based on the confidence of previous success; knowing that having done it before, I could do it again.
After 'the other shoe drops', the thankful roommate can return to sleep confident that there are no more nasty surprises lurking. That's the confidence of the experienced writer.
The time between one shoe dropping and the other following, should not be spent idly waiting. In the case of the aspiring writer, it is the act of writing itself, that is the gravity that pulls the shoe to the ground.