Have you ever wanted to be really good at something? Have you ever worked your tail off getting really good and then worked harder to be great? I’m guessing that for most of you the answer is a resounding, “YES!”.
For me, I want to be good at everything I do, great at the things I love, and truly excel whenever I can. But, as my grandmother still says in my head whenever illusions of grandeur pop up, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I never knew what that meant growing up.
I do now.
“Seek perfection, and you just might achieve excellence.” Sensei Daniel Schroeder, 9th Dan Okinawan Shorin-Ryu. (center below)
Sensei Schroeder is my teacher. He has been for the past 22 years. This Saturday, I will test before him for my 5th Dan (5th degree black-belt). Preparing for Saturday’s test is scary, thrilling and exhilarating; it’s also taken continuous training for almost half of my life to get here. I’m happy to say, no matter what happens Saturday, it’s been worth every sweat-filled-muscle-screaming day.
The physicality of the journey is important. It’s also the most obvious aspect ~ it’s what the outside world sees. Karate is much like writing in that respect (many other respects too ~ the corollaries abound). The outside world sees the finished book and the author is judged on the product of her work…Does the cover grab the reader…Do the characters resonate long after the last line…Is the plot compelling…Is the writing fresh…?
These judgments are made of the finished product ~ the book ~ and rightly so as this is what the reader sees.
What is NOT seen in Karate or in Writing (and yes here I believe writers earn the capital “W”) is the blood and guts and sweat of the process. That is where the soul lies, in the pursuit of perfection. That is also the personal, spiritual journey.
Karate is physical, mental and spiritual. So is writing. All three aspects of the art need to be present in order to form a harmonious and fluid whole. Physically we produce a product. To produce a great physical product, mentally we have to make it so. Mental discipline keeps bottoms in chairs and fingers tapping out words. Without mental discipline the practice and the product wouldn’t happen. The mental aspect of writing also involves research and craft. Both can be learned and both are necessary for storytellers.
Spirit can’t be taught. It’s not learned. It’s a gift, unique to each of us, given before we take our fist breath and I hope with us after our last. It’s that intangible bit of magic that makes our art sing. Spirit breathes life into everything we do. Writing is real and tugs at our hearts when it taps into our own spirit…when everything else is solid and then the spirit rises up, tails are kicked and names are taken. It’s a beautiful thing, in and out of print. 🙂
So, as I gear up to release my fourth book (DEFENDING DESTINY) and as I kick my training up a notch or ten in anticipation of Saturday’s test, my heart is pounding, my throat is dry and I’m focusing on what I can control on these paths I’ve chosen.
I can control how hard I work. I can strive for perfection with each new chapter and be satisfied with excellence. I can take a breath and enjoy the journey along the way. No matter what happens on Saturday…no matter what happens on Defending Destiny’s release day…the journey so far has been worth the trip. And the day after…well then, I’ll get back to work!
It’s taken 22 years to prepare me for Saturday’s test. So far, it’s taken three years for me to release four books. I can’t wait to see where my writing path to perfection (hoping for some bits of greatness) leads me in 18 years. One thing I do know, is that when I hit 22 years as an author, I’ll still be training in Karate and weapons! Hopefully with a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, all three of these arts.
So, my friends, no matter what your journey is, may you seek perfection, find excellence and enjoy the rollicking waves of life along the way. Peace be the Journey! 🙂
(Leigh Morgan writes sensual, sassy romance with a kick! Her Warrior series features authentic martial arts scenes. Come laugh, love and spar with Leigh’s quirky characters. Leigh’s book are available at all major e-book retailers including: Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple. Look for: SPARRING PARTNERS, FIGHTING FATE, SECOND CHANCES and soon to be released, DEFENDING DESTINY)