There was no blog post last week because I was away from home in a bit of digital void on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. This was for a family wedding and it was a great chance to renew those family bonds and also to remember the place that had been a part of many happy family holidays. I had a lovely time and started working on something I don’t often do. I’m writing a short story. I can’t wait to share it. I’m super excited.
The reason why this is exciting to me is that I’m not a short story teller. I’ve never really found a groove in short stories or indeed any short form, including poetry. It’s frustrating because sometimes you just want something to show for your hard work and writing a novel (or even a novella) takes so dang long! It’s not for want of trying. When I was in school I wrote so many stories that I just couldn’t mould into a short story format. When I was at university I had the same issue. I’m just not that good at it.
But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.
You see, sometimes, at a particular point in your life a skill is just beyond your reach. The good news is that at other times that skill can find you, especially if you’re open to it. At the age of 18 I started to learn to drive. I only took a few lessons. I hated the experience. When I moved to Manchester I insisted that I didn’t need to drive; public transport was all I needed in a major metropolitan area. When I tried again at the age of about 21 the skill came so much more easily and now I love driving. It was probably just the right combination of being a passenger for long journeys, having the right motivation and being a bit older and maybe even wiser, either way, something just clicked.
The same thing can happen with other skills. Including writing. Maybe you just need to reach the right critical mass to make your learning and experimentation successful.
So here’s an idea for this week: make two lists, one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses. Make both lists about your skills rather than being too personal. Next to each skill on the lists note the approximate date you last tried it. If there’s anything you haven’t tried for a while, especially if you have been telling yourself it’s beyond you, give it another go. If it works out, amazing! If not, no big deal, maybe the time isn’t right.