For more IWSG posts for August, click here.
Like many of you, I am in the midst of summer Olympic fever, staying up late at night to watch the divers, the swimmers, the gymnasts. While I was thinking about a topic for this month’s post, my brain touched on how writers, like athletes, need to practice, practice, practice. But of course, that theme has been done—to death. We all know if we want to improve, we need to write.
That said, I am never NOT amazed by the dedication of these athletes—the focus of the sixteen-year-old competing in her first Olympics, the twenty-one-year-old (virtual antique) competing in his second. Many of these contestants continue to compete on the world scene for a few more years, before they move on and develop entirely new careers. After a point, I suppose, they have to. Once they age, the synapses don’t fire fast enough, and before they know it, each former superstar is eclipsed by someone younger and faster. No matter how hard they work, age will catch up.
That’s the good news from where I sit. Because, while the writing muscle demands exercise, it doesn’t have to get old. It probably isn’t a surprise to anyone reading this that I am sitting solidly astride middle age. Yet, when I look back at a blog post from three years ago, or an essay I wrote five years ago, it’s clear I am a better writer now, by far. All my “practicing,” over the past several years has yielded measurable improvement. I don’t have to retire due to age-related injuries. As long as I can situate myself in front of a screen, I can keep going, optimistic that in spite of my wealth of grey hair, I am still going to get better.
A friend of mine posted a FaceBook tribute to his mother on her birthday last week. It said something like: “My Mom turns 82 today. She is strong and spends her days writing fiction, walking and keeping active.” I tell you, I love watching all the Olympic medal winners. But if I can manage a compliment like that when I turn 82, it will feel fourteen-karat enough to me.