So, I’ve recently taken up surfing. Yes, I know what you are thinking. “Tiffany, didn’t you grow up in San Diego? Why are you only starting to learn how to surf now?” Because I didn’t grow up a walking stereotype, people! Just because I grew up here doesn’t mean that I spent all of my time growing out my long blonde beach hair and surfing every morning and going to work/school with sand in my shoes and retreating to the beach every summer for bonfires and saying words like “rad” on a regular basis. Geez!
So, anyway, the waves were so rad this morning (passionately flips long blonde hair over her shoulder). I think this was technically my fourth time out as a “serious surfing student” under the tutelage of Kevin Olson Six. Apparently, there is a fourth lesson breaking point, which I totally hit. This is the point when you know enough about the mechanics of surfing but not quite enough to actually do it well. So, there I was, on the “inside” of the break (surfing lingo: closer to the shore and not out where the crazy waves are) and basically getting pummeled over and over again by the completely ungentle ferocity that is the Pacific Ocean.
And so, there’s a point. And, I think this happens in writing as well. The point when nothing seems to be working, you know you’re in the middle of the learning curve and you’ve realized to your own horror that there is something in this world that you’re not completely brilliant at right from the get. (Insert future post about being a Type A overachiever). All you see is the hours and hours of time stretching between where you are now and where you want to be. Like at the end of a novel. Or surfing Pipeline. What to do now?
After the fourth or fifth time my shoulder was raked across the ocean floor, my hands flailing out in front of me to protect my head from my surfboard which was now flying through the air, bouncing on foamy ocean break, I knew I had to make a decision. Either paddle farther out to where about twenty surfers waited, sitting on their boards in the calm “outside,” waiting for the Maverick waves that would probably only reach about six feet but still felt gigantic to me, or beat it back to the shore.
Again, I know what you’re thinking. A pivotal life lesson moment! Find your inner awesome, Tiffany! Channel Blue Crush and get out there with the big guys and prove something to yourself!
Five minutes later, sitting on the shore and contemplating life, I had a minor epiphany. And it went something like this:
I don’t have to be a badass everyday.
Because, truthfully, I am quite often a badass. They say that you should do something every day that scares you? I quite frequently feel like my entire life is one scary moment after another. (That might have come out wrong, but I think you know what I mean.)
But just…not today. Today, perhaps in an instinctual lunge of self-preservation, perhaps because I was still really frickin’ sore from booty boot camp the day before, or perhaps because I have spent the last two months being a badass in so many ways…today was the day to declare Mother Sea the winner, enjoy the warm sand for a moment, watch the other badasses catch the big waves, and gain some perspective.
When I am in the thick of something, I have a hard time seeing the goal. Enter perspective. Time to step back. Absorb the lessons. Choose the next path. Reaffirm the goal: This is how I want to be able to surf. This is the kind of book I want to write.
So, the morning was spent watching the pros tear it up on the outside. The afternoon was spent writing down the first lines of the first books ever published by my favorite authors and tacking them to the bulletin board in front of my computer. (“Lily heard the shot at seventeen minutes to one.“)
Because this is a marathon, and not a sprint. Choosing to be a writer is choosing a lifestyle. And sometimes the most important part of choosing something is how you get yourself through the times when you just don’t want to do it anymore. It’s okay to beat it back to the beach. Just make sure you’re out there again the next morning. Cowabunga.