Tuesday 26 May 2015

Practice Makes Perfect

Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Writing is all about the practice and I have one dear friend, Matthew, who helps me do just that. He is my sounding board for ideas; my beta reader for stories, blog posts, poems, you name it; and someone who encourages me and challenges me along the way. He asks poignant questions, makes me think and often helps me see things through different eyes. Most of all he forces encourages me to write.

A few weeks ago, Matthew asked me to write a beach scene. The challenge was to write it from two different points of view, one being of a woman in love and one of a woman with a broken heart. Same beach but different feelings. At first I thought, easy peasy, but then I started writing. The difficulty came from the fact that the emotion I was writing about was something I wasn’t currently experiencing. So I had to dig deep into my memories from so long ago and see if I could dust off the cobwebs and “be in love” again. This proved challenging, which made me begin to wonder if I had ever really experienced “true love”. So I tried my hand at the broken hearted point of view.

What can I say? This was much easier. Perhaps along my journey, I have let my broken heart consume me and shield me from allowing myself to love again? Whatever the case, this writing challenge made me re-think where I am in life. Have I been fooling myself into thinking that my previous broken heart was mended? Am I afraid to to open my heart again? One beach scene and I was analyzing the writer's block and feeling like I hadn't allowed myself to truly feel all these years. It is time to take that leap of faith and jump. If I end up with a happily ever after then FABULOUS! If my heart is broken again, then at least I will be feeling something instead of hiding my heart away from the world.

For those curious, here are my two paragraphs that describe a beach from two points of view:

Fourth of July fireworks erupted, hiding the night stars with magnificent, colourful explosions that danced through the sky. The perfect end to the perfect day, Nora thought as she stood on the only white rock along the shoreline. Love permeated the air and Nora inhaled deeply, drawing in its sweet scent that mixed so deliciously with the salty ocean air and the lingering of Rico’s muskiness left on her skin. It was an unusually hot and sticky night but despite the uncomfortableness of the heat, Nora felt the magic of love around her. Rico loved her. Really loved her. "HE LOVES ME!" Nora yelled out over the water and then jumped in. Her hot skin tingled from the coolness of the ocean water. It felt wonderful. Making her way back to shore, Nora lay back along the sandy shoreline. She smiled quietly to herself as a warm breeze holding infinite possibilities drifted across the sand, carrying them to the horizon and letting them go.

Her skin pimples as the abnormally cool July breeze that scurries across the ocean meets her at its edge. Nora wraps her arms around herself as she tries to make sense of it all watching the angry waves crash into the shore, pummeling the sand with no reprieve. The irascible ocean spews its bile of white foam onto the grains of sand, ridding itself of mans impurities. The remnants of her shattered heart pounds fiercely in her chest. Her sobs take over her body, uncontrolled and erratic. Each breath filled with salty ocean air punctures her lungs in the caustic wake of the day’s events. He no longer loved her. Nora shuts her eyes and lets out a harrowing cry into the abyss that now lies ahead. All the pain, passion and love within her thunders out across the water, disappearing into the horizon. Collapsing on the cold, wet sand, Nora summons the tide to carry her away, past the horizon, where the pain lives no more.

While the writing exercise allowed me to understand how emotion changes how we perceive the world around us and get closer to the mastery my craft, perhaps the lesson learned here is love needs to be practiced and I need to open my heart to the possibilities again.

Talk to me! How many hours do you put into practising what you love?


  1. Wonderfully descriptive writing!

    In terms of how many hours I put into practicing what I love (i.e., writing), the answer is, not enough. I don't write every day, though I do something writing-related every day.

  2. You have a wonderful gift! 10,000 hours about sums it up!