Friday, March 14, 2014

Driving Lessons

When we walked out of the Revenue Office after taking my written driving test, my Dad handed me the keys and pointed to the driver's seat. He had picked me up from school at mid-morning to drive me to take my test, and I was driving back to school. I was nervous, as all new drivers are, slid behind the steering wheel, and started down the road. My mind raced with thoughts of checking mirrors, proper hand placement on the wheel, accelerating, braking, watching road signs, and trying to keep this suddenly very large vehicle between the proper lines on the road. It was exhausting. By the time we reached the high school, a mere two miles from where I began driving, I was ready to stop. Oh sure, driving always looked like fun, but only then did I realize how much work it was.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine said she had always wanted to write, but never felt that she was good enough. She entertained ideas of taking writing courses online, but stopped herself at the last minute because she felt her words would not be good enough. I did my best to encourage her to take the leap, though I quietly understood every one of her fears. She said something like, "Of course you would do it, because you write so well."

Firstly, thank you for the compliment. I cannot say whether I write well or not. All I can say is I enjoy writing and occasionally stumble across a few lines which I think are keepers. Secondly, writers become better by writing. I'm sure Walt Whitman had some bad teenage poetry in his history, as do I, and as do millions of others. But we get better with time. We get better by doing. I am by no means drawing a comparison between me and Whitman -- that would be sacrilegious and categorically wrong -- only illustrating that the first few times we try anything, our skills are not yet honed. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes patience.

I reminded my friend, who is a talented photographer, that her photographs are like visual writing. The backgrounds, colors, lighting, and composition all merge into a beautiful statement that is beyond words and speaks straight to the heart. And she learned that by doing -- continually doing something she loved, just because she loved it. Through repeated dedication, the love of the craft shines. It cannot help but shine.

While driving toward the high school with my Dad that day, I underestimated the need to slow down while turning and made the curve at Bomber Boulevard a bit too fast. We were nearly on two wheels. My father braced against the door and the seat while calmly saying, "You might want to go a little slower next time." This morning I drove to work and could not tell you anything about the drive. It is second nature to me now. I no longer think about mirrors, hand placement, road signs, or how much to slow down to make a turn. It just happens. It happens without it feeling like work. It is nearly as instinctual as breathing.

It's that way with writing, too.


  1. So sweet and so absolutely right. spot. on.!

  2. So beautifully and eloquently written Rita. Clearly it's second nature to you now, but thanks for reminding everyone that we are all beginners at the beginning and sometimes even now!

    1. Awww, thank you, Suzi, that means a lot to me. Happy you stopped by :-)


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