Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I've always wanted to try Tai-chi, and when our library offered free classes, I showed up -- a week early.

The instructor kindly explained what the class entailed and gave me some literature to study. As I read, I became more convinced that this was for me. What other exercise (or, more correctly, martial art) helps coordinate movement and breathing as well as strengthen the body and mind?

Besides, it looks so graceful. Like a beautifully choreographed dance.

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I was anything but coordinated. I was the only fifth grader asked to sit out while the rest of the class practiced the Virginia Reel. I never mastered the polka. My dream of roller skating backward never came to fruition.

In other words, I am a klutz.

But, I have persevered. I think I have mastered some of the arm movements. Putting them together with the steps is another story. But the instructor promised the class -- most of whom were groaning along with me -- that by the end of the course, we WILL have learned all 15 movements and will be able to do them just as gracefully as the demo video expert.

I bought the video so I could practice at home. But it's better in class where the instructor can correct my errors before they get too deeply ingrained.

The difference between this class and my aforementioned doomed efforts is this: encouragement. The instructor didn't tell me I was a hopeless case. She didn't suggest I sit and watch, or quit after one lesson, telling me I was hopeless. Maybe if I hadn't listened to my earlier teachers, I would have mastered the dance--or the backward skating. But I was encouraged to give up, not go on.

It's a little like writing. We have to coordinate plot, character and setting. The story must move along without faltering. And, we need editors, proof-readers and beta readers to catch our errors as well as add encouragement and support.

As for "Riverbend," it is nearing the end. I have one more scene to write. Then comes the editing and revising, then getting some beta readers who will read the story and offer constructive criticism, followed by more editing and revising, and finally sending it out to find a home.

It's a long road to publication. Sort of like learning all the steps in Tai Chi.

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