Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

What will it take?

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Feb• 09•18

This has been another grim, difficult week in world affairs and for our tattered republic. So many worrying events going on; another government shut down, DACA hasn’t been fixed, the stock market is volatile, more scandals and cover-ups in the White House. I’m weary, citizens everywhere are weary.

But across the Pacific, in another time zone amid chilling temperatures, the Winter Olympics have begun. I plan on watching my favorite events; I plan on following the athletes’ stories, I plan to cheer on Team USA.

And I’ve found that when life is clamoring or ugly, watching figure skating can make it all recede.  So last night I watched the men’s singles and the pairs skate. Such grace and ease and athleticism across that frozen surface. I’m inspired by their stories, by their sacrifices, and thousands of hours they’ve dedicated to their sport.

Nathan Chen is a rising star skating for the US. Amid much hype and speculation about his Olympic  chances he has mastered the difficult quadruple jump. He’s even called the Quad King. And yesterday in his first performance in the men’s short program, with the whole world watching, he blew it. Even though he performed the first quadruple flip in Olympic history. All those hours of practice and more practice and in two minutes and 40 seconds it didn’t matter. He had one of the worst performances of his career.  Later, after receiving his disappointing score he said he felt bad about letting down his team.

Here’s my point:

We’re heading into mid-February, the Chinese New Year, Lent, and Valentine’s Day. If you’ve fallen, get up. Lace up your skates. Head to the ice.  I’m speaking figuratively here, of course.

Start over if need be. Pull out an old manuscript and read it with a fresh, scrutinizing eye. Transmute heartbreak or breakthrough in your memoir.  Do whatever it takes, because writing will extract much from you. Make it your obsession.  Because becoming a real writer requires stamina and thousands of hours.

I guarantee that you’ll struggle to make it look effortless. To translate the truth of your body  onto the page. At times you’ll feel muddled and thick-headed; other times you’ll feel deliciously alive and clear-headed. I can also guarantee there are fewer activities more gratifying than birthing a story, a book, a poem. It’s such a rare, fine gift to the world.


And go Team USA


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