Animus is an imagination-kindling realm of wonder
As a kid, it would have been a gross understatement to say that I disliked long-distance running. I excelled at the 100/200m dash, but couldn’t be bothered with anything north of 400m. As a naturally-endowed sprinter, I did not care much for stamina training. Later I took up martial arts and had my rear end handed to me in a definitive fashion, as a result of fatigue. Then I understood that endurance is just as crucial to an athlete, as talent and physical strength (if not more so). Furthermore, I looked within myself and realized that the enemy was not the distance or the boredom, which I had always blamed, but the willpower and discipline. Now that changed the complexion of the issue, as it transformed from a problem into a challenge. I took up the gauntlet and now endeavour to plod through 8km (once or twice per month) in just under an hour. At this stage, you may have smirked at my ‘puny–at best mean–achievement’, as did my sister, an avid marathon fan. She gibed “Hah! I run 8 MILES in about 45minutes 5 times per week!” Lovely for her. However, she does not weight lift, condition her stomach/thigh muscles to absorb impact and fist/shin bones to do damage, stretch, train in martial arts techniques, daily horse stance and last, but not least she does not weigh 110kg. For me running is a breathing and willpower exercise, a meditation, not a competition. I deliberately run slowly to reduce the stress on my heart and joints. However, when I fight, just like when I write all the facets of my training are brought to bear–from the easily-recognizable strength and technique to more illusive attributes such as patience and indomitable will.
Which brings me to the point of this post: to be a complete writer, just as to be a complete martial artist, requires dedication and focus needed to hone a wide spectrum of talents, none of which may be overly favoured or neglected, lest one builds a wonky career. Some of these skills may be a joy to develop, others may feel like a punishment to work at, but it is vital to persevere. Before I got into the vain business of writing with the aim of publishing a book, I was an independent writer/editor and naively believed that the unsavoury (yet necessary) branding task and promotional campaigns would be predominantly organized and overseen by the publishers’ people. Sadly, nowadays it is no longer sufficient to write a great story. Every facet of a writer’s game is meticulously dissected and tested for weaknesses by prospective agents and publishers prior to any commitment. This is where one-trick-ponies falter and break, as they lack the stamina and necessary talent pool, which are needed to stay the course.
My advise to starting writers is to deliberately and diligently work on as much of the ‘big image’ as possible, rather than obsessing over micro-managing one aspect of their career. Be patient. Be dedicated. More on this in my upcoming post “The 8 limbs of writing”. Stay tuned. In the mean time, may your pen never run dry and paper never crease!