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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

It’s Okay to Slip… Just Don’t Stop


slip and fall canstockphoto7765646 (3)Last Thursday in the Twin Cities was one of those weird weather days with rain in January. The roads were wet, but not icy when I drove to Common Good Books to deliver a writer’s workshop/reading.

I parked just off the alley on a significant incline and didn’t see that the rain there had frozen. When I got out of my car, I slipped, grabbed the car and barely stayed on my feet.

I was profoundly grateful — I would have been mortified to have to limp into the bookstore in wet pants.

After the presentation, I walked very carefully to my car. When I got to the incline where I’d parked, I took tiny, quick steps, barely lifting my feet off the ground so I wouldn’t fall.

About two-thirds of the way up, I lost momentum. I must have paused just for a hundredth of a second, and in that momentary pause, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to step forward without falling. For a moment, I was motionless, then gravity reasserted itself and I slid backwards to the bottom of the incline.

The backward slide was slow, comical and almost graceful. I had my hands full, so I couldn’t flap and flail my arms, which was probably the only thing that kept me from landing on my butt.

brain canstockphoto8956548 (2)“Now what?” I wondered.

I shuffled cautiously toward the street to see if I could walk around a big snow bank and reach my car that way, but that wasn’t an option. I shuffled down the alley in the other direction to see if there was another route that way. There wasn’t.

“Okaaayyy…. Now what?” I wondered again.

I realized I’d have to tack up the hill on a diagonal to the right to reduce the angle, then switch back to the left when I got to the top, and hope for the best.

Here’s the funny thing: I never once thought of abandoning my car. I didn’t question my commitment, my will power, discipline or incline-climbing ability. I didn’t blame myself with indictments like “If I really wanted to get up that hill, I’d be there by now,” or “This would never happen to a real driver.”

I lost momentum, slid backwards and lost all the ground I gained. But I never doubted I’d figure it out and get home.

Is there an icy incline in your writing life? If there is, how can you tack your way up?

Or how did you tack your way through a slippery patch in your writing life to get where you are now?

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12 Comments on “It’s Okay to Slip… Just Don’t Stop”

  1. SherriH February 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    I always knew you were brave, Rosanne … ice terrifies me. And so does the empty page, at times! A very good metaphor. Thanks!

    Like

    • rosannebane February 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Thanks Sherri! I’m glad you enjoyed the metaphor. P.S. I think you’re brave too, even if you are afraid of ice. 😉

      Like

  2. Joel D Canfield January 18, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    It feels funny to be reading this on my first day back in California in 18 months. Nobody round here slides on ice much.

    But the metaphor is marvelous. “I never once thought of abandoning my car.” No kidding.

    Why do we assume such about our car, but not our art? I inadvertently had an argument with an artist online recently because they called art “non-essential” and I objected. They thought I was comparing it with food and water, which is clearly ridiculous.

    I was comparing it with air.

    Like

    • rosannebane January 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

      Thanks Joel for making me laugh out loud. And thanks for your comments!

      Like

  3. Angela Foster January 16, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    What a fun post! And a gret reminder to keep your ‘eye on the ball’.

    Like

  4. Michael January 15, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    That’s a really great story, and well adapted into a metaphor!

    Like

  5. Michael Kelberer January 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    And proving once again, that there is material everywhere!

    Like

  6. alba bejarano-van Heuven January 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this Rosanne, after a few happenings I was feeling I have lost momentum…THANKS A LOT for this wonderful message , I will not stop…I will keep going on , even if the road is icy…

    Like

    • rosannebane January 15, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      You’re welcome Alba! So glad to hear you’re going to keep going!

      Like

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