Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Writing is Like a Water Slide

Since I'm still not able to ice skate, I decided that I'm going to become a swimmer. Two weeks ago I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA. Granted, I know how to swim, but I didn't know how to do the different strokes or how one goes about swimming laps.

My instructor was the sweetest a girl, a college student, and she taught me freestyle, back stroke, and breast stroke. I tried learning the butterfly, but the dolphin kick motion of the legs aggravated my knee. On the last day of lessons, my instructor made a joke and asked if I wanted my ribbon for completing the course. I laughed and said that I didn't need a ribbon, but was wondering if I could go down the water slide. Hey, the other kids got to, why can't I?

And when she said I could go down that slide, it was like a victory moment. I had been eying that long blue slide for two weeks, thinking about how unfair it was that adult's didn't get to go down it. So at the end of the lesson, my instructor granted me permission to go down the slide. But, I insisted that she join me.

And she did.

We screamed like little girls as our bodies were shot like bullets down the slippery plastic, our bodies bumping back and forth against the sides. The other instructors saw how much fun we were having, so they joined in too. The parents sitting in the beach chairs laughed at us, joining in the fun. It was such a happy time.

And of course as I floated there, wading in the water, I couldn't help but think how this whole swimming experience was like writing. In the beginning, I knew how to swim, just like I knew how to write sentences. But, with time, patience, and training, my ability to swim and be efficient at it improved, just as my writing has over the years. And to me, that slide was like landing an agent. I don't have an agent, but I can imagine that once you sign, you're elated, but then comes the work, and sometimes it might hurt, just as my elbow hurt when it rammed against the side wall of the slide.

Metaphors for writing are all around us, aren't they? What have you experienced lately that reminded you of a writer's journey?


  1. Luckily, my writing did not follow the arc of my swimming. I still swim at snail speed and float with boulder efficiency (I do, however, enjoy water slides :)

  2. I had a swimming experience similar to yours this year...so empowering! Because I learned to swim (something I thought I'd never do), I now feel like I can do anything, overcome any fear. I love that feeling.

  3. Bane- Maybe your swimming can follow the arc of your writing career ;-)
    Anita- it is definitely empowering. It just feels good to do something active again other than therapy.

  4. I love how you switched to swimming because you couldn't skate. Water slides are way fun--like flying.

  5. Excellent analogy! So true. You think you know how to do something until someone teaches you how little you know.