A long time ago, while I was studying for my Green Belt in Kenpo, I was a cocky dude who thought he knew everything. Newsflash, I was wrong, but that’s beside the point. While I working on a technique (Breaking Wing, I think), I kept rushing to the throw and missing the setup for the throw. So, when I was trying to work it with someone, I just couldn’t get the throw to work.
One of the instructors, a guy that had been around for a while – back to the Ed Parker days, I believe – told me to slow down and work each piece of the technique as if it were the whole technique. “Do what you’re doing while you’re doing it,” he said. After each part is done, then move to the next part and do it while you’re doing it.
The bottom line was this: the throw in Breaking Wing works because the previous two parts of the technique (a middle knuckle to the armpit and raking the ribs, followed with snaking around the opponent’s arm and torquing their shoulder) set up the final throw. Without those two pieces first disrupting the arm and then breaking the balance, the throw just ain’t gonna happen.
Kenpo’s full of stuff like that. It works brilliantly if each part is done correctly. Bork up one part and the rest is likely to fail.
A little bit back Damyanti Biswas wrote a blog post about ideal writer’s retreats. As per Damyanti’s usual standards, it makes for an interesting read and leaves you with a good question to think about.
The general gist was, if you could create an ideal writer’s retreat, what would it look like? She trends toward the “no good view whatsoever” school of thought because excellent vistas mean excellent staring at the vista. Writing time, to Damyanti, is meant to be writing time, not staring into space time.
I realized I have no real ideal writing space. I prefer my chair with my feet up my beat-up ottoman, but our dog also prefers that space, so I wind up writing from the couch a lot of the time. Usually with the TV on and a bourbon and cola nearby.
On the other hand, I also wrote the first chapter of Transmute at the Starbucks on Central, surrounded by chatty college students and babbling homeless people. The coffee wasn’t that great and someone thought it would be a good idea to heat up my cheese danish. All in all, not the best of circumstances, but I manage to make it work.
I guess, once I get into the zone of doing something, I tend to focus on it. Maybe those words from Mr. Ericson all those years ago actually found a place to take root in my skull and I’ve actually found a way to do what I’m doing while I’m doing it. All it takes is focus. And a wife that will put up with me asking what just happened on TV all the time.
See, the switch from Kenpo to writing only felt like a bizarre segue into a completely different thing.
What about you? Do you have anything specific that you need to write?