Have you ever learned something, or had an event happen that was so new and exciting you couldn’t wait to share it with the world?  I’ve had this happen to me a few times in my life.  I remember that shortly after becoming a student to Japanese Ju Jitsu I took a trip down to the Kentucky Derby.  My college roommate and I arrived at the infield and rapidly became overwhelmed.  There were thousands of people there, mainly intent on getting drunk.  She and I laid out our blanket, set up our cooler and sat back to watch.   It was fascinating, but the gambler in me couldn’t sit still.  I talked her into standing in line with me as I placed bets on the various races throughout the day.  I was uneasy, however, with the crowds.  I felt myself tensing up and all the training I had received thus far in martial arts came welling up.  I felt a bit like a ninja, hiding in the infield.  (Disclaimer – if my Sensei knew that was how I felt, I’m sure he would have beaten that out of me).

Kentucky Derby Crowds

The afternoon wore on, the drinks flowed, and people become more gregarious.  It all came welling up when I was waiting to place my bet.  A man reached out and grabbed me from behind.  He claimed, later, that he was just trying to read the back of my shirt.  I tensed when I felt his hand on me, then dropped my body weight, turning quickly to face him as I blocked his arm with one hand while my other hand formed a fist.  I hesitated at this moment, and as I looked into his eyes I saw a flash of fear.  His eyes widened, his buddies dropped back and away, and as cliché as it may sound – time slowed.  When I saw the look on his face, I realized he was not a threat to me and I tried to smile.  I relaxed my body, pulled myself up to my full height and did my best to look normal.  The guy was upset though and his friends were questioning me about why I did that.  I attempted to laugh it off, warning them that they should never just touch someone unannounced – especially on their back.  I fear I might have inflicted a little pain to the guy, but I doubt I left much of a bruise and I sincerely hope he didn’t continue manhandling women in crowded places.  Was I in the right?  That is debatable, even knowing the situation.  Was I over eager to show my talents?  Probably… I do have a tendency to show off.

I am in a bind now with my blogging.  I still feel I have a lot to learn about writing, which drives me to continue my studies.  On the other hand, I am falling into the age-old trap of feeling that I know more than I actually do.  I want to promote and encourage my blog and writing – but I need to constantly keep myself grounded.  The purpose of this blog never was to become hugely famous – the purpose was and is to document my journey into writing.   The fact I have had over 2000 hits astounds me, but pleases me to no end.   I have been given some amazing opportunities since I began this journey – it is hard at times not to get tense and overwhelmed.  I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made in my youth and show off just for the sake of showing off.  I don’t think that is entirely what happened in my early example, but I was too new at martial arts to have attempted anything in public.

Drawing by Allison Ruotolo

Now with writing – I am not there yet, and I need to slow down and focus on my studies.  I need to continue working on my book – the characters are taking shape, the storyline is developing.  I need to see that as with martial arts – writing is a personal endeavor.  I can have teachers, but how I see the world is ultimately in my hands.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from “On Writing Well” that I read a few days ago.  It keeps rolling around in my head:

Writing Is Not A Contest

Every writer is starting from a different point and is bound for a different destination.  Yet many writers are paralyzed by the thought that they are competing with everybody else who is trying to write and presumably doing better… I’ve often found that the hares who write for the paper are overtaken by the tortoises who move studiously toward the goal of mastering the craft… Forget the competition and go at your own pace.  Your only contest is with yourself.