Writing is just like rowing – I bet you never knew that! by Trish Morey
Like most writers I know, I love reading. I love to find a great book, a simply unputdownable book, and get transported away with the characters, the setting and with their situation. I will fly through it, relishing every word, eating up the prose until, with a final sigh of satisfaction tinged with disappointment, the book is finished. Those books, those fast reading, page-turning, non-trip-uppable stories that flow like ribbons through your mind’s eye, they must be easy to write – right?
Wrong. As someone once said, easy reading is hard writing.
It’s like that with rowing. I used to row many moons ago, in single and double sculls, and in a four when I lived back in
But gradually, the confidence to exit that bay built up, much as my confidence to send my work out to editors and contests slowly grew. I still wasn’t rowing well. I certainly didn’t have great technique and there were many a time my blade would dig in way too deep and I’d in rowing terms “catch a crab” and stop dead in the water. In writing I’d catch a rejection. Lots and lots of rejections. I won a few races as a novice sculler, and boy, did that lift the spirits. I won a few writing contests. I had great rowing coaches. In writing I had critique groups and fabulous writing colleagues.
I used to love skating over the millpond surface of the lake on those frosty morning, like a water insect darting over the surface and I did pretty well, actually made it to a couple of Nationals downunder although I never brought home a medal. I finalled in the Golden Heart, although the necklace eluded me.
And one day I worked out what it took to be a great rower. It was during the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games and I was watching a rower who looked so utterly relaxed and fluid as he powered his boat through the 2000 metres to win a gold medal. Just looking at him you couldn’t tell how much he was working, how much effort he was putting in when those blades dug into the water, how much it hurt when he rammed down his legs and pushed back, how much his lungs burned with the effort. He made it look so utterly easy.
And that’s the mark of a great writer too. Remember that last great book you read? You didn’t see how hard that book was to write, you didn’t feel the pain when things didn’t go well for the author, you didn’t see the blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation. What you read was smooth, fluid and seemingly effortless. It’s a worthy goal.